Shipping wedding outfits home brings heartbreak for Marin County couple

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Have you ever stuffed your suitcase so full while traveling, you decided to ship some of it home? A Marin County couple did just that. They decided to send back some very precious cargo-- their wedding outfits. They thought it was the easiest way to travel light, but in the end, it was heartbreak.

Keith Shaw and Michele Affronte, two Sausalito houseboat dwellers, got married in a fairytale wedding on an island off the Brittany coast, then shipped their wedding clothes back home to Marin. They then whisked off across Europe for their honeymoon-- less encumbered with baggage.

"It was a dream wedding and a wonderful honeymoon,'' Affronte says.

Everything was perfect until they arrived home, expecting to see her wedding gown from Budapest and his white wedding suit, waiting at their door. The package wasn't there-- and it wasn't coming.

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"We thought it would be simple. Just send it UPS home, you know? I mean, what could go wrong?"

Where should we start?

"The label fell off and the package was lost and sent to Germany,'' Shaw said, recalling what UPS told him. "That was the craziest thing."

"That's when we got worried and said, 'Oh my God, it's in Germany in their lost package building,''' Affronte recalls. "We may never see our wedding clothes again."

UPS managed to track it down and send the package back to France, but it still couldn't ship it back to the United States.

"Every time I called (UPS) I would get a different person and I had to tell my story all over again,'' Affronte said. " 'Why was I mailing a package from France to America? Why wasn't I just taking the clothes home in my suitcase?'. Over and over and over again"

"We went through three tracking numbers and several supervisors,'' Shaw said,

"They kept saying they were missing some piece of paper or something,'' Affronte added.

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"We never gave up hope. That package was somewhere,'' Shaw said. However, Affronte wasn't as confident.

"I gave up, I said 'Keith, I can't do this anymore."

Affronte was lamenting the loss of a white satin dress she wore at her rehearsal dinner, and her crystal-studded wedding gown by designer Michal Negrin. The couple had discovered the gown in a boutique in Budapest, saying the Spanish style flare fit her personality.

They also had packed Shaw's white linen jacket and slacks, whose pedigree wasn't quite as special.

"It's from Macy's, but the shirt was designer from a store in Carmel and Michele picked it out for me." Shaw says. "So it was very special to me."

Nearly six months passed, and their package still hadn't found its way back home.

"That's when we enlisted 7 On Your Side,'' Shaw says.

We contacted UPS. The company tells us its office in France could not ship the package to the United States because it was lacking an invoice declaring the contents. The couple had left the package for pickup at their rental house in Brittany, then left for their honeymoon. So UPS in Europe had no way to track them down to fill out the missing paperwork. Once they arrived home, UPS sent them the required paperwork, which Shaw filled out. He faxed it back to UPS, but the documents never reached the correct UPS official in Europe. So, it languished, until we contacted UPS. The package was tracked down, and Affronte was alerted. It was on its way.

"I was sitting here watching the tracking on my phone and I saw that it came and it was in the parking lot outside the houseboat community," Affronte recalled. "I ran down because I didn't want him to get lost and leave it at the wrong house. I got the scissors right away and cut it open and pulled everything out. I called Keith and said, "It's here it's here!"

"I told her I'll believe it when I see it,'' Shaw recalled.

It was there. And they slipped into the outfits once again, modeling it for this report, still fitting perfectly.

"Oh it was thrilling to see it again,'' Affronte said. "It was all there even the jewels. One of the things I said was thank you 7 On Your Side!"

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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