I started reading Offbeat Bride before I was engaged. I ooh-ed and ah-ed over the cool dresses, the amazing locations, and the paper flowers. When I eventually got engaged, I had one venue at the top of my list: Brooklyn's reBar.
It offered the non-traditional feel we were looking for and came with an amazing package. We immediately put down a deposit and made monthly payments for 18 months. We high fived over how stress-free our planning was, and that we weren't going into debt for our wedding while having an amazing wedding.
We had 17 days until our wedding, I was freaking out over whether or not my mantilla veil had been delivered, when I got a Facebook notification that someone in the reBar brides and grooms group had posted that reBar was closed. My fiance tried to assure me that it must be a mistake. Then I saw an article on Gothamist and it finally hit me.
The next 36 hours are kind of a blur… I cried, drank my weight in wine, looked at other venues, had a meltdown on the street in Brooklyn, made it on the 11 o'clock news. But most importantly, I got angry.
I started a Facebook group called “Screwed by reBar” and by the end of the week, we had 130 members. Talking to other people who were in the same situation as us helped to alleviate the worst feelings I had — that of stupidity and helplessness.
We discussed our legal options, created a community to share DIY projects. They were there for me when the obnoxious comments on a certain website known for their snark made me cry at my desk. The emotional support has been invaluable.
I was asked what I suggest for other brides to avoid the situation we're in. My advice is this: WEDDING INSURANCE.
Yes, I know how ridiculous and wedding industrial complex-approved this seems, but if we had spent that $250 eighteen months ago, we wouldn't be out $20,000 now. If you have a small budget, please: think about cutting elsewhere to make wedding insurance work.
We rebooked with a new venue, and learned how you can find support and words of kindness in the unlikeliest of places. We've been overwhelmed by the kindness and support from friends, family, and even strangers. Lucky for us, the venue owner was arrested, and while we'll probably never see any of our money again, we know that we'll get to see him in court.
Ultimately, shady vendors can steal our money — but they can't steal our wedding day.