Needing to vent a little to fellow brides but also would love your suggestions on how to handle this situation.
Due to living in Iowa but having the wedding in Terre Haute, Indiana, we decided to hire a wedding planner - we'll call her "J." We have been working with her since February 2012 thru the entire planning process. At that time, she let us know she knew this developer in the area who was renovating an old bank building into a new reception venue, specifically targeted to weddings. She let us know she was the only planner that knew about the venue since it had not yet been publicly announced, and was actually a consultant for its design to really make it the dream space for both clients and vendors.
We visited TH in March and got to see the bank building. We were apprehensive of it being completed on time since it had not yet even been gutted at that point, but knew we had over a year for it to be completed, plus our planner said she wouldn't even suggest it unless she knew it would be done in time.
In May we asked for an update on the reno progress and J let us know the space would be completed by October. In June we visited TH and the bank space again and altho it had made progress, it wasn't by much. After that visit we were kind of nervous about its progress and then in July we received pricing for its rental, bar fees, etc and were even more nervous about whether it would fit into our wedding budget, so we asked for other venues and their prices, just to compare. J explained that any other place would be more expensive after figuring in all the included items with the bank space.
We received the pricing info and the contract for the bank space, but still couldn't bring ourselves to sign it yet. We asked J multiple times for pictures of the space or more details on the progress. She did not supply them but let us know that she had been hired on as general contractor and designer and for that reason, could GUARANTEE that the space would be ready by the end of November.
Based on that information, we trusted that she was right, so we sent in the contract and deposit to secure the date. We visited TH again in August and the space had been gutted, but aside from extending an exterior wall (to remove an old store front), there had been no real progress. In September we went back and forth waiting on the final number for how many people the bank space could fit with dance floor. In October I asked again about the max capacity and asked for another update of the bank space. J told me the space would fit 170 people, but never said anything about the status of the bank space.
November 5th I called J because I wanted to speak verbally about wedding stuff and especially the lack of info about the bank space. No answer, so I left a voicemail message and sent an email (which has really been our main communication) updating her with some details on my own progress, but requesting a callback.
Friday Nov 9th I receive an EMAIL explaining that J had checked out the bank space that morning and saw that demo was done but that there hadn't been much completed reconstruction. Apparently the Owner of the bank space didn't realize that the architect had to submit new plans to the State and have them approved before they could continue with the reno. Given that government stuff is typically slow, J basically told us that our reception space will NOT be completed in time and that we need to find something else ASAP. The owner will refund our money, but SURPRISE most good venues are already booked...or outside our price range...or just not what we're looking for.
I was livid. I read this email on my phone while at work and couldn't do anything about it right then - I work in a call center. As soon as I got home I called J's cell and let her know that she cannot tell me this kind of information in an email and requested a call back immediately, no matter how late. Nothing. Nothing on Saturday. This afternoon I received an email from her that she broke her phone yesterday and couldn't access her voicemail. I work in a call center for a wireless carrier so I know you can access your voicemail from a landline. Regardless, she obviously didn't listen to my voicemail beforehand because I called her on Friday!
So obviously FI and I are livid. We never had the best feeling about her from the beginning, but figured it was probably a personality difference. She was busy. She was far away and we didn't mind handling everything via email, so the general time spacing between communications was fine. Except this. If she were really the contractor for the project, she would have known a LONG time ago what the actual progress of the space was and when it would be completed. Maybe she did know and has just been holding out on us - that's how it feels and it's even worse that the blame is all being placed on the architect. Both she, as general contractor, and the owner of the space should KNOW all details of progress at all times.
We are trying to find other spaces in the area or closeby. We already have the cake, officiant, ceremony venue, photographer, DJ, hotel, Save the Dates (we were just about to send them out). We really don't want to change the date or the location, but we might have to revamp everything for this.
I know this isn't a local board, so I don't really expect suggestions for specific venues or anything, but what should we do?
We've paid her about 2/3 of her total fee with the remainder due in January. We hadn't really planned for another visit to Terre Haute til January or so -- I work Saturdays and vacation time is difficult to coordinate. FI's family lives in Indianapolis, so we will likely ask his mom and sister to visit TH with J for options. But we don't even know if it's worth keeping her at this point. We do have a contract with her and I'm not sure exactly what our options are, but we've lost every bit of trust and confidence in this person.
So ready to bring our families together and PARTY on April 13th, 2013!
53 Are ready to party!
18 Will be missing out!
154 Are MIA!
Reply requested by March 23.