ST. CHARLES – For the past nine years, Bella Bridal and Formal Wear has been Sandy Ryan’s dream fulfilled.
But Ryan, 48, has made the decision to close her West Main Street shop so she can have more time with her daughters, Sara and Emily.
Sara, 15, was 6 when Ryan opened the St. Charles store, and Emily, now 14, was 5.
“I look at how fast my daughter’s freshman year just went, and I’m missing their lives,” Ryan said. “Three more years, she’s gone. Four more years, my baby’s gone.”
To thank its clientele, Bella Bridal is giving away 10 prizes, including a 50-inch TV, computer tablet and digital camera. Visit the story for details.
No purchase is necessary, Ryan said.
A closing sale began June 6, and Ryan expects it will last a couple of more weeks, she said, noting everything was reduced to 50 percent off Wednesday.
She and her seamstress will work limited hours until November to take care of existing customers, she said, adding she has seen many bridal stores close overnight, leaving brides in a lurch.
Ryan knew she wanted to open a bridal shop at age 16, when, she watched Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding, she said. She proceeded to study fashion design – specializing in bridal design – at Northern Illinois University, she said, adding she made her prom dresses, wedding dress and dresses for her bridal party.
Bella Bridal and Formal Wear
Address: 2000 W. Main St., St. Charles
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Closed Tuesdays.
“I finished at 1:14 the morning of my wedding,” said Ryan, noting hers was the last one done. “It kept me calm. It made everybody else stressful.”
Ryan opened Bella Bridal and Formal Wear in downtown St. Charles on July 27, 2004, and outgrew that location in three years. It has since occupied about 5,700 square feet at 2000 W. Main St., just east of Randall Road.
Some of her first customers – teens shopping for prom dresses – are returning to Bella Bridal for their wedding gowns, she said, noting that contributes to the sadness of closing.
“We developed a lot of friendships over the years,” Ryan said.
Ideally, she said, she would like to sell the business because it has a strong customer base and good reputation. Interested parties can call the store at 630-443-9226.