By Sahar Chmais
After losing $3,000 to Saddle Creek Weddings, dealing with an unsure staff and lost wedding plans, Cindy Tucker felt she had no place to turn. She and her daughter are left to deal with an emotional and financial burden.
“We were supposed to enjoy this time,” Tucker’s voice broke while sharing her experience. “Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to resolve this. I didn’t think I was being unrealistic. I wanted my money back. We hadn’t used their services and they didn’t go through any expenses but they had my $3,000.”
Tucker’s daughter picked her wedding venue in December 2019, and within the same month, Tucker paid a $2,000 deposit. In April 2020, after witnessing the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tucker reached out to Saddle Creek Weddings, discussing her concerns about the virus.
According to Tucker, Monica Egan, a representative at the venue, promised her they had one year to reschedule the wedding. Based on this news, Tucker paid another $1,000 deposit.
Back in March, the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch interviewed several wedding venue owners, including that of Saddle Creek, who also told the newspaper that they will allow parties one year for rescheduling.
Plans seemed to be in place — until they fell through.
The wedding venue sent out a letter to couples placing restrictions on who can not attend the wedding due to COVID-19 health risks. One of the restrictions was no elderly people in attendance, which meant grandparents could not attend. Shortly after, in July, Tucker’s daughter reached out to the venue asking how long she had to reschedule her October wedding.
“My daughter said she wanted her grandparents at the wedding,” Tucker said. “So, she emailed them saying she wanted to change the wedding date. They told her they can not. I was shocked because that was not the conversation I had.”
The wedding venue responded saying they will not be rescheduling weddings. And if the couple decided to cancel the wedding plans, they would still owe the full amount because the wedding was less than six months away.
After long deliberations and many phone calls from Tucker and her daughter, the venue said the couple may reschedule their wedding in April, because that is the venue’s slow season. Tucker refused. She pleaded to get her deposit money back – not all of her money, but just the $1,000 deposit she paid after receiving misleading information.
Conversations between the bridal party and the wedding venue continued for months. The venue offered Tucker to refund her money under the condition that she signs a non-disclosure agreement. If Tucker signs, she would not be able to discuss what happened to the wedding, why it was cancelled or anything of the sort.
“I’m like, people will be asking why I am canceling, wondering what is going on,” Tucker explained her frustration with the non-disclosure agreement. “For me to say nothing when they broke the contract.”
Tucker refused to sign under these terms, she kept fighting to get her money back, even sending the wedding venue a letter through a lawyer asking for her money back. Saddle Creek Weddings did not respond to these letters.
The Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch reached out to Saddle Creek Weddings president, Brad Schreiber, on Jan. 8, asking for his thoughts on the issue.
Schreiber said, “I understand the situation, however, we have sold Saddle Creek Weddings to the Walters Hospitality group and I am no longer affiliated with the property.”
Given the news, the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch reached out to the new owners of the venue, three times via email and twice by phone over a three-week period. On the last try, Egan picked up the call and said she could not discuss the matter.
Months into the pandemic, the wedding venue continues to receive one-star ratings on how they treated the wedding parties who have asked to reschedule.
“I just worry about other brides and other families going through this,” Tucker said. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones who have had this struggle. Love doesn’t stop in a pandemic.”
While the canceled wedding plans and financial loss endured left a bitter taste in this sweet memory, Tucker did not quit. She still gave her daughter a wedding.
It was much smaller and humbler than planned. About a dozen of the closest family members attended the wedding hosted in Tucker’s backyard, where the bride and groom said “I do,” under Tucker’s small gazebo.
But Tucker still feels uneasy, waiting for a restitute.
“If I was to talk to the new owners, I would want them to know it’s not too late to make me happy,” Tucker said. “Maybe they just don’t have all the information.”