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Kleffner Ranch in Helena is bad news

Hi there all you Montana Brides, and especially the ones in Helena.
I recently had a wedding reception at the Kleffner Ranch in East Helena, MT. While the location is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a wedding/reception, the customer service is terrible. The owners, Denis and Stacey are very rude once they have your signed agreement and money (they seem very nice prior to that in email and phone correspondence).
Specific Issues:
They try to double book wedding events there (there are 2 seperate buildings in which you can have a reception) and it results in a confused mess for vendors and guests.
 They nickel and dime you: charge for each table, each chair, each little thing, and over charge for linens compared to what you can get by ordering them yourself. They will charge you if you want to come decorate the location the day before the event: $50 per hour. They charge you to use the kitchen in an adjacent building for your caterer at $75 an hour. This is on top of $1500, which is a ton of money for a MT venue.
They had water running allover the parking area the day before and day of our reception, creating a ton of mud that our guests had to park in, which indicated no consideration for us.
They ignore emails, and have a poor system for keeping records and reservations, so you have to "stay on them" about everything.
The worst part was that the owner, Denis, showed up at 11:05pm (we had the venue booked until 12:00pm). He began milling around oddly looking at things and directing our wedding party to come get mops and start cleaning. We were still in the middle of dancing and enjoying ourselves! When my husband and I left, Denis reportedly began bossing people around to start cleaning up (even though everyone was already doing that at that point, tables were being broken down, garbage picked up etc) and was extremely rude to my little sister, to whom he began gruffly barking orders at.
He followed people around rudely barking orders, and then made people go and sweep/mop the entire 100x100 square foot area (not sure what the $1500 we paid them was for?). He told my sister to go pick up cups in the parking lot because people were "tail-gating," however , a non-related-to-us rehearsal dinner had occurred simultaneously with our reception that night in another building on the other side of the parking lot, so he blamed us for something he wasn't even sure we did. It was 35 degrees and dark outside when he told my little sister to do this, while she is wearing a cocktail dress and heels.
Other brides who have been married there have told me the same types of awfule stories/experiences. They also took way longer to send my deposit back than they had said, and they kept $100 dollars of it, with no explanation. I would assume if there was an issue they would have said something the morning after the event, and not just let it go until weeks later to discuss. They also sent the deposit back to my stepmother instead of us, even though we are the ones on the agreement.
They are rude, rude people. My friend (another bride) said that Denis also walked down to a reception and began going through the buffet lines eating the guest's food. He then began loading up containers of leftovers, until the father of that bride told him to put it back. Very, very unprofessional.
He also made another bride and groom I know come back the day after their wedding to pick up flower petals off the ground from an outside wedding, down by a creek. Seriously?
Just a warning ladies. I wouldn't do business with them ever again. The Lakeside Ranch is a much better option, from what I have heard.
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Re: Kleffner Ranch in Helena is bad news

  • thank you so much for that input, as I had considered this venue!
  • Sometimes there are brides out there that are bad news.  Like the saying goes: "damned if you do damned if you don't. There is no pleasing them! Don't decide on a venue based on one bad review.  There are always going to be people out there that will find something to complain about.  I happen to know that Kleffner Ranch is an affordable, beautiful venue with many happy brides who would tell you that their experience was very positive and would recommend Kleffner Ranch to their closest friends. I'm sure you would find 10 good responses to 1 bad one. I'm sure if what this bride said was all true Kleffner Ranch would be out of business!
  • jth34 jth34
    First Comment
    edited February 2012

    This venue is beautiful and Denis has put alot of hard work and time to make this a memorable place for Brides. In fact, he has received national recognition for this at: http://helenair.com/business/local/down-to-business-kleffner-ranch-to-get-national-tv-exposure/article_330b8fd6-077b-11e1-9dea-001cc4c03286.html.

    I have heard from many locals who love this venue. Denis not only holds weddings but everything from retirement parties, to festivals. He works hard to ensure everybody has a positive experience and keeps the place emaculate. The new updates to the Ranch show how much he loves this place and how much he wants others to enjoy it too. He has given back to the community time and time again.
    If I were to guess, this was a girl, who paid her dues, decided to have a party, and throw trash all over the place. She was asked to pick it up, as stated in the agreeement and decided to post a comment like this.  I would highly recommend doing your research before taking this comment to heart. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Go out, take a tour, ask questions and make your own assessment.

  • What exactly is overcharging? Of course you save money by DIY'ing it, but if someone is to do it for you it will cost you. People cannot and do not work for free. Chair rentals: consider this, for every time a chair is rented it is worn down a little bit more, if this venue didn't charge for rentals they would only be able to supply crap. Nothing in life is free. Even when you DIY it. 
  • I just had a reception there September 14 2013. We also have had friends say they had a hard time . I loved the venue. So we booked with them anyways. We were ready for anything and surprisingly we had a great experience with them. Everything was done in an orderly fashion we were treated very well got all of our deposit back. As long as you COMMUNICATE key word here you will have no problems with Dennis or Stacy and when they have a wedding the next day they are going to need you out by 12 wich they state in the beginning and If you don't pay the exclusive use fee they can double book but considering the fee is 500 which is half a days cost and they lose 500 because they charge 1000 for the other venue it really isn't that bad of a deal. My now husband and I took the chance at not paying the fee we were up at the barn and fortunately we didn't get double booked. To avoid this fee you might get away with not paying it in September but may - July it's a very popular place. I tried booking for a July wedding in September of the previous year and they were booked solid till September of the next year. So book early . A great perk to this place is it is mostly decorated you just have to add a few personal touches . And the area around it for the ceremony is BEAUTIFUL. The barn also has indoor bathrooms and Dennis has heating lamps TO RENT because if you use it you pay for it like at most wedding venues. I really do think they are working really hard to improve on communicating better and making it better experience for the bride and groom. I really think it is worth having your wedding here and don't let the long winded review discourage you from booking here. It's a great place to have a wedding!
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