Customers call VIP Occasions "The Elmhurst bridal shop." It has deep sentimental meaning to many people.
"The whole wedding experience was magical for me. I'm still very happy and in love 10 years later," Julie Miller Sheehan said.
Miller Sheehan bought her wedding dress at the shop 10 years ago. She said her heart breaks to see the business gutted by fire.
"I went to up my husband last night and I said, 'I want to donate my wedding dress, is that OK with you,' and he said yes," she said.
Just after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, firefighters returning from a nearby inspection spotted the fire on North York Street near West Grantley Avenue. About 80 firefighters worked to contain the flames, which spread quickly. No one was hurt.
The family-owned bridal shop, which has been in business for 26 years, was closed when the fire started. It is now a total loss.
"There's a lot of combustibles by way of the clothing, the dresses, the gowns. So as a result, we had an inordinate amount of combustibles that were in the building that contributed, internally, to the amount of fire," said Chief Tom Freeman, Elmhurst Fire Department.
Two sisters owned the shop. They have vowed to assist customers. Friday morning, they posted a message on VIP Occasions' Facebook page that said once the area is deemed safe by the fire department, they will set up a temporary shop at a building they own two doors down.
Other suburban bridal shops offered help to brides who may have been affected.
"We are absolutely here to present them with a nice wedding gown and to make them happy," said Fifi Papadopolous of Fifi's Tailor.
The entertainment business located right behind VIP Occasions was also scrambling to ensure happy customers after finding some of their equipment underwater after the fire.
"A few of these are birthday parties and school events. We are very fortunate to have our friends pull together and bring us equipment so we didn't have to ruin anybody's party this weekend," said Lynn Casey, owner.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, the fire chief said it was not yet safe to allow investigators inside the building. The cause and origin of the fire remained undetermined.
Firefighters expected to stay at the scene all day Friday and for at least part of the day on Saturday.