Couples in 'wedding limbo' seek answers

January 4, 2011 3:09:22 PM PST
More than 70 couples went to a meeting in Montgomery County on Tuesday looking for answers after their wedding venue went into bankruptcy.

The meeting was held by the bankruptcy trustee for creditors. Unfortunately, they left without getting their questions answered.

The brides, and grooms-to-be, were scheduled to tie the knot at Elkins Estate over the next two years. Many of them paid the Land Conservancy of Elkins Park, Inc., upwards of $5,000 in rental fees up front.

"They can't guarantee our date of June 18th, 2011, so we're really left with no real recourse," said groom-to-be John McConnell.

The problem is the conservancy has filed for bankruptcy and is fighting to get back the property's deed. It lost that deed to the estate's former owner and lender, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de Ricci.

"If we're successful in negotiating a resolution, then all these people who are here today would actually get their events," said Edmond George, the attorney for the conservancy. "That's why we're putting in so much effort in the negotiation with the sisters."

The sisters say, while they're sympathetic to the cause of the couples, they can't honor contracts they didn't sign - and the property is rightfully theirs to take over considering the conservancy hasn't made a mortgage payment since June.

Consumers we talked to say the conservancy should issue refunds.

"They can't perform the services. Why don't they just give the money back to the people so they can move forward and plan their wedding day?" said Sue Graff, mother of a bride-to-be.

The attorney for the conservancy says the money is gone, already mixed in with the estate's operating funds.

"You can't say 'Your dollars went to pay this bill or your dollars went to pay another bill," said George. "The money has been spent."

"There's so many hurt brides in that room. It's just so sad and, I think, these people should be ashamed of themselves," said Graff.

We talked to a bankruptcy attorney about advice for consumers in situations like this. He says that it's critical you do get on that list of creditors and make sure the creditors committee knows you exist and have a right and interest in the outcome.