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“She really is a con”: Brides blame Port Charlotte shop for missing dresses

Brides kept calling Fox 4 to say they paid thousands to the owner of Benedict Bridal in Port Charlotte for dresses they never got.
Posted at 12:26 PM, Apr 07, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fl. — Ask any bride about their wedding dress and chances are they will light up. Sadly, that’s not the case for some brides here in Southwest Florida.

Instead of focusing on their soon to be nuptials they say they’ve spent months trying to get answers about their wedding dresses that never showed up even though in some cases they paid thousands of dollars for them.

Kat Davis says that’s the case for her daughter, Tanner. She’s getting ready to marry the man of her dreams, Maliq, in May. She lights up when she talks about the young couple.

Maliq and Tanner pose after they got engaged in Florida

“They've been together for almost five years and he’s like a son to us,” she shares.

And while the saying goes, ‘Love is patient’, Kat and her daughter say they’re sick and tired of waiting for the owner of Benedict Bridal in Port Charlotte to do the right thing.

“I just don't know how she sleeps at night because she really is a con,” says Davis.

She’s talking about a woman named Elizabeth Brown. Kat says she was the owner of the bridal shop on El Jo Bean Road where she bought her daughter’s wedding dress.

Tanner posing with family and Elizabeth Brown at Benedict Bridal after she said 'Yes' to the dress

She remember the day was lovely and Brown even posed with her daughter for happy pictures but when she started emailing and calling to find out where the dress she ordered was, she got nowhere. Time after time.

“I sent her another email, nothing. My daughter emailed her. Nothing. I threatened her that I was going to hire an attorney. Nothing. And so that's when yeah, I realized that I was out,” Davis explained.

Out $1000 that she says she paid for a wedding dress from Benedict Bridal. A dress, Tanner, was beaming about the day she chose it at the boutique.

I asked Kat, “If you could say something to Elizabeth, what would you say to her?” “I just don't know how you sleep at night,” she answered. “For her to do this on such an emotional level on something that is just so personal and so special for these brides it’s just so sad.”

Notice she said brides… plural. It’s not just Kat and her daughter saying that Brown left them without a dress and out lots of cash. Others have contacted Fox 4 claiming the same thing.

Tia from Englewood said, when we initially spoke with her, that she paid in full for a dress from Benedict bridal but never got the dress. Ashley from Cape Coral says she’s out about $2600 and still doesn’t have the dress she ordered from Brown. A bride named Evelynn shared a similar story with Fox 4 via text.

I reached out to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and detectives confirmed that they have two cases involving Benedict bridal being handled by the Economic Crimes Unit. Kat Davis tells me she filed one of those cases.

“I think that this Elizabeth Brown needs to be found and held accountable for what she's doing to all these hopes and dreams of these young girls,” she said.

But getting ahold of Elizabeth Brown was proving difficult for Kat and the other brides sharing their experiences, so I got to work. A quick search online showed her website was down an replaced with images of architecture. The Facebook page for Benedict Bridal now says the content isn’t available when you try to find it.

I drove to Benedict Bridal on El Jobean Road where the sign and phone number are still up but when I walked in there weren’t wedding dresses, instead, there were pool supplies.

Chelsea with Resurrection Pools next door says they started using the unit when Brown left. She walked us through the open room with equipment and desks and explained what used to be there just a few months prior.

“This was socialite like the proms and the moms and then you come back over here when she bought this unit too and this was the fitting room and the gowns,” she explained.

Chelsea says it’s been a difficult few months fielding brides questions when the walk in the door with questions about the dresses they purchased here.

“We've had several women come in crying we've had the sheriff's office come in looking for her. We've had mom's of brides coming in and they're crying cause this is their wedding it isn't something you want to mess with,” she said.

I wasn’t going to find Elizabeth Brown here so I went back to work and with a little help from some of the brides looking for answers I discovered that Brown used to work at a motorcycle company in Georgia. It was a long shut, but I called and to my surprise she answered the phone and agreed to talk with me.

Brown told me she would send Kat and her daughter a refund if that’s what they wanted. She then told me that checks were already in the mail for 2 of the other brides that I spoke with. Brown said the checks would arrive by the end of the week and that should be the end of it.

She told me that when she decided to close her shop down she offered refunds at that time but she says the brides in question chose to wait for the dresses instead. Again, up until that point they tell me they never got those dresses or a check.

I had to ask her on behalf of these women who feel they’ve gotten the run around what happened?

“The business just failed. I tried to get them out and get them delivered as quickly as possible, I offered refunds at the time of closing they decided not to take the refunds they wanted to wait the dress out,” she explained on the phone.

I appreciated her talking with me and told her that and then said I’d just follow up with the brides at the end of the week to make sure they got their money.

“By Friday everyone should be whole again?” I asked.

“Correct, that should be the end of it,” Brown stated.

That was March 8th. I was hoping that would be the end of the story and the brides would get answers or a check but a few hour later I got a text from Brown saying she got an attorney and any further communication should go through her.

I called Attorney Anastasiya Patel who said her client is being harassed and that from her understanding Elizabeth send refunds to these brides.

One did. Tia got a check with a refund for the dress she bought and never got. $2,343 was mailed to her in the form of a check.

The other brides though, as of April 5th, still haven’t gotten anything. Kat and Tanner, Ashley and Evelyn are all still “out” their money, dresses and joy that came with the experience.

If you have had a similar issue with Benedict Bridal or Elizabeth Brown, I want to hear from you. Email me: amy.wegmann@fox4now.com

You can also reach out to her attorney located in North Port, Florida.

Anastasia Patel Law
https://www.anapatellaw.com
Phone: (833) 365-9529
info@anapatellaw.com