Life Happens: Our Venue Screwed Us Over

Wedding planning isn’t always Pinterest-perfect. There are bumps (hell, sometimes sinkholes!) along the way. And that’s okay because ultimately these obstacles bring you and your fiancé/e closer together.

Life Happens: Because wedding planning isn't always pinterest perfectWith our wedding, the horrible experience I went through turned out to be a MAJOR blessing in disguise. Our wedding was truly a perfect day. And I would have been perfectly okay with it not being perfect, but it was.

Jake and I were married on the edge of Swan Lake in Montana at his family's cabin. It was the perfect setting for our vintage inspired, whimsical, rustic, intimate wedding. While I definitely wanted the ceremony at the cabin, I had picked out this great little spot for our reception. Because I had planned the whole thing from our home in Tennessee, I really wanted the reception to be handled by professionals- to alleviate some of the stress of planning. With my mother-in-law-to-be in tow, I toured the reception venue a YEAR ahead (how organized and prepared I was!). The owner was charming and reassuring. The venue was an elegant-yet-rustic little restaurant-slash-hotel that sat right on a harbor. The food was great! Perfect. I put down a deposit and signed a contract to reserve the venue for our reception. I felt so relieved to check that off my list!

As the year went along and our wedding came together, I thought it strange that I hadn't heard from our reception venue. However, she assured me that she would be getting in touch with me a month out from our wedding to confirm numbers, food, cake, drinks, etc. I received an email, not a phone call four months before our wedding that basically said, “We double-booked our rooftop venue. The other couple booked first and will not move. You can use our ballroom. Sorry.”

The “ballroom” that they offered was their general restaurant area, which we would have been sharing with the public. I was flabbergasted. I could NOT believe that they could just do that. We signed a contract after all! We wanted what we paid for—their private rooftop garden—not a public restaurant. Naturally, my blood pressure sky rocketed. I panicked. I did. I was under so much stress trying to get everything in order for the ceremony and now this. Remember, I was in Tennessee planning this wedding across the country in Montana. I TRUSTED these people. I emailed the person back. This person whom I had never met, never spoken to, didn't know. I demanded a phone call from the owner. Two days went by and I received no reply. So, I called the restaurant. I explained the situation to a not-so-polite hostess who, in a very sarcastic voice, replied, “Oh this happens all the time. You should read the reviews of this place on Tripadvisor.com.” She then explained how poorly that place is run and how she hates her job. Yes. Yes, that is what I wanted to hear about—HER PROBLEMS. For about a week, I emailed back and forth with them trying to reason. Finally, I got a phone call. She apologized, poorly and without feeling. It was then that I knew this really did happen all the time and I was not the first angry and upset bride she had talked to. She reminded me of those people you call when your cable goes out and you have no idea how to fix it. She treated me like I was stupid and unreasonable.

I threw my hands up at that point. I told her she had five days to return our money. Our money was returned, contract voided, and we were at square one. This was tourist season in Montana and every other acceptable venue was booked up. Almost immediately, my brain went to work. We were going to have an awesome reception and we were going to have it at the cabin. That was that.

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I hit the thrift stores. I borrowed things. I researched catering companies. I researched bakeries. We figured it out. We had one week to pull it all together once we arrived in Montana. Jake and his brother and father made the tables and benches. I used vintage sheets as table cloths. I bought plates, silverware and glasses from thrift stores. I found cute vases and décor items from thrift stores. I ordered loose flowers from a local florist and arranged them myself in all of the thrifted vases on our handmade tables. We ended up getting our food from a local grocery store, as well as our (chocolate!) cake. We made a makeshift cooler out of an old canoe. Jake's father strung lights through the trees. I set up our tables the morning of the wedding. With some really great help from family and friends, we put together our reception as well as our ceremony. And somehow, doing everything ourselves made it all the more special.

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It was truly ours—the whole day, every part. Our reception was amazing. And no one had to travel anywhere after the ceremony. It was all there. It was great! Looking back, I can't imagine doing it any other way. Even though that venue and its owner threw me for a terrible loop, I am grateful to her. It was the best thing that could have happened. If that place couldn't handle a simple reservation, what would our reception have been like? If there is one lesson I have learned, and would like to impress upon other couples, it is this—do your research! If I had indeed looked at all of those online reviews, I would have thought twice. But in the end, like I said, our day was perfect. Ridiculously perfect. It really was the best day of my life, with the love of my life.

Have a crazy tale (insane vendors, unbelievable bridesmaids)? We wanna hear from you! Share your story (we’ll keep you anonymous!) and we’ll laugh, cry and shake our fists alongside you. Email us at [email protected].

More from our Life Happens Series:
I Had to Steal My Flowers
Gown Shopping Nightmare

 

author avatar
Brittny Drye
As a lover of all things wedding and a fierce cheerleader for marriage equality, I decided to marry my two passions and create a resource where all couples—gay, straight and lesbian—can be equally represented. Armed with seven years in both print and online lifestyle journalism, I dove headfirst into this passion project in 2013 and Love Inc. was born. I’m inspired every day by the couples that grace our pages, from the can’t-live-without-you grasps to the gentle sweeping away of a happy tear, the love that they so clearly have for each other is intoxicating, and drives me to create the best product possible … while enjoying every second of it.