Judge awards nearly $1,500 after bridal gown unravels

Bride Samantha Shea wears the white beaded wedding Bride Samantha Shea wears the white beaded wedding gown that was the source of so much chaos at her June 8, 2012, when the zipper broke just hours before the ceremony. (Dec. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Handout

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Samantha Shea's bridesmaids were arranging the bustle of her beaded white wedding gown in June when, to their horror, the teeth of the dress' zipper began tearing apart, one by one, from below the waistline to the neck.

"We just stood there staring for a minute," said Josephine Abbatiello, 24, one of the bridesmaids. "How do you tell a bride that her zipper has broken 15 minutes before her wedding?"

Monday, six months after the Oceanside bride's wedding day fiasco on June 8, Nassau District Court Judge Gary Knobel ordered in the small-claims case that the woman who sewed in the ill-fated zipper should pay Shea $1,499, covering the cost of the $599 dress, the $600 in alterations, and last-minute fixes that Shea had to pay for to cover her backside before her bash.

"It was a complete nightmare," said Shea, 29, of the moment when she felt her gown go loose. "I was two hours late to my wedding. I almost didn't get married."

Abbatiello, who owns the Carle Place salon Studio Novelle with Shea, said they work weddings all the time and are used to last-minute complications. But this was a disaster on a different scale.

"The bride was crying, her mother was hysterical, her husband was knocking on the door, poor guy, probably thinking she's never coming out," she said.

The seamstress, Dalia Cohen, of Bridal World in Baldwin, declined to comment after court, but Knobel's decision says Cohen was remorseful in her testimony, saying she "was devastated" at what happened. She got into her car to drive to their Manhattan hotel to fix the dress, but received a text on her way telling her not to come, the decision says.

Instead, Abbatiello called the lobby and told hotel staff about the nuptial nightmare. They, in turn, sent up two housekeeping employees who spent the next hour and a half sewing the bride back into her dress.

The bride had to tear into her wedding gift envelopes to find $200 in cash for the women, whose fingers were bleeding after jabbing the thin needle through the fabric, Shea said.

Shea said she showed up two hours late to her own wedding to Christopher Falcone, minutes before the minister had to leave for another appointment. He did an abbreviated ceremony, and charged an extra $100 for his additional time, the decision said.

Shea said once she finally arrived at her wedding, she was able to let loose and enjoy her special day -- up to a point. Being sewn into her dress also meant that she could not use the bathroom for six hours, and at the end of the night she had to be torn out of the gown, which now sits in an evidence bag, instead of in her closet.

"We did enjoy the wedding," Shea said. "But the two hours before that could have been the worst of my life."

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