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Rhode Island

Don't get scammed at Belle Mer

Don't get scammed!!!!  I had always dreamed of having my wedding at Belle Mer until I really looked at the numbers.  When I met with the coordinator she made it seem like I would have this beautiful wedding with everything I would need flowers, cake, photographer etc. for an amazing price.  That is a load of bull!  Here's how it works.  They have an event minimum of 40k (Friday pricing Saturday would be 55k and 10 k for linens etc) which right off the top they take 9K for use of facility, tables, linens, etc. So you are left with 31K for food, bev, and all vendors (which you must choose from their preferred  vendor list).  Sounds good doesnt it.  Sounds simple.  Well here is the kicker. They charge a 20% admin fee to the ENTIRE BILL.  Yes, including your vendors!  So if you get a price for 5k for flowers you are getting charged 5k + 20%  which is now 6k.    Adds up huh?  So for the beautiful wedding that I was told would be no problem to stay at my 40k  would now cost me 48K.  Dont forget the 7% tax and 1% newport tax.  So I am now looking at closer to 52k.  The thing that really gets me is I asked up front if there was any charge that was added to the pricing from the vendors and I was told NO.  After speaking with some of their vendors and others who no longer do business with Belle
Mer I learned that this was a lie.  Their reasoning is that they sign the contracts with the vendors and feed them with my $125 plate. 
Belle Mer is beautiful but I want to enjoy my wedding day and not worry about how long its gonna take for me to pay for it.  And most of all I wouldn't put $1 into a business that is sneaky, misleading, and a rip off.  Choose wisely ladies 

Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer

  • edited December 2011
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  • umasskdomeumasskdome member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Sorry that you think that Belle Mer is a "scam," but I am a Belle Mer bride and I completely disagree.  First of all, if you read the contract, you will clearly see what the event minimum includes. Plus, you do not HAVE to use their preferred vendors. In fact, I am not using ANY of their vendors - I have contracted all of my own vendors - with no additional fee.  Therefore, I have not had thee 18% administrative fee applied to anything but my food and beverage.  So your statement that the fee applies to your entire bill is completely false.  And for the 1% and 7% taxes - that will be the same at every venue.  I am sorry that you feel Belle Mer is a scam or a rip off - but is seems that you have not read or understand the contract. If you are not happy with the initial contract - I found them to be more than willing to negotiate.  In fact, I have been more than pleased with the cost and the service of Belle Mer thus far. 

    I think it is unfair to mislead other brides with false information. 

    If you, or anyone else, would like any additional information on my experience with Belle Mer, feel free to ask! 
    jwkosek
  • RoyalOrientRoyalOrient member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    I wouldn't call it a scam but I do think they nickel and dime their brides. I know Belle Mer gets mix reviews in general, you can read about the rants online and the biggest complaint is the vendor mark up policy they have on their preferred vendors list. But like someone said, you don't have to choose from their list.
  • kathanddavekathanddave member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I have to agree with mdelgado, I am a local and I wouldn't think of considering Bel Mer for I have heard how they operate.  One of my closest friends use to work there so I know first hand the extra charges, etc.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://newport.weddings.com/main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_rhode-island_dont-scammed-belle-mer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local Wedding BoardsForum:122Discussion:f1b97792-449a-4c6c-812d-2599e67e6d93Post:49b84728-8496-4e92-ad13-39fce07cf6a0">Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer</a>:
    [QUOTE]Sorry that you think that Belle Mer is a "scam," but I am a Belle Mer bride and I completely disagree.  First of all, if you read the contract, you will clearly see what the event minimum includes. Plus, you do not HAVE to use their preferred vendors. In fact, I am not using ANY of their vendors - I have contracted all of my own vendors - with no additional fee.  Therefore, I have not had thee 18% administrative fee applied to anything but my food and beverage.  So your statement that the fee applies to your entire bill is completely false.  And for the 1% and 7% taxes - that will be the same at every venue.  I am sorry that you feel Belle Mer is a scam or a rip off - but is seems that you have not read or understand the contract. If you are not happy with the initial contract - I found them to be more than willing to negotiate.  In fact, I have been more than pleased with the cost and the service of Belle Mer thus far.  I think it is unfair to mislead other brides with false information.  If you, or anyone else, would like any additional information on my experience with Belle Mer, feel free to ask! 
    Posted by umasskdome[/QUOTE]

    I agree 100%. 

    I don't know why everyone keeps talking about a Belle Mer preferred vendor list.  I have never seen one and my wedding is next weekend! 

    You are correct in stating that if you do book vendors through Belle Mer in order to count it towards your minimum, you will pay the 18% admin fee on that amount.  BUT, that includes vendor meals, gratuity for that vendor and the time that your event coordinator spends discussing your event with that vendor.  Do you think a venue should do that for free?? 
  • mdelgado143mdelgado143 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Well Ladies
    I am just sharing what my experience has been with them this week.  I know I wouldn't have to use their vendors soley but this is what was sold to me.  And, the fee I was told they would charge would be 20% not 18%.  So therefore, there seems to be alot of mixed information but again I am sharing what I know from the last few days. 
    Good Luck
  • ayleeaylee member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I was a Belle Mer bride and I admit I have complained a lot about what they were charging me.  And I wouldn't give them 5 stars either in my review.  But I agree with umasskdome about complaing with false information.

    e.g.
    [QUOTE]<font face="Times New Roman" size="2" color="#000000">which you must choose from their preferred  vendor list</font>[/QUOTE]

    I also want to say that I agree with all what umasskdome and summerboston had said.  Have you seen the contract yet? The admin fee (18% in my case) is included in it and pretty much everything else is in the contract.  In the end, I loved my wedding.

    I'm sorry your first experience with Belle Mer wasn't that great.  Looking for a venue is the most stressful part of my planning.  So I want to wish you good luck!
  • edited December 2011
    I agree with mgdelgado143 on many of the issues she's brought up.  I also looked extensively into Belle Mer and State Room (which is under the same company) and what I think most brides get suckered into is the idea that there is an event minimum, which is really unique to Belle Mer's venue and service. 

    At first it seems like a good idea, but you soon realize that venue fee/food/drinks alone don't always add up to your event minimum.  Thus leading you to book vendors through Belle Mer in order to meet the event minimum...which actually hurts the brides as there is an additional fee on top of the vendor's normal service fee. 

    But, keep in mind if you can easily meet the event minimum, then you can always book your vendors on your own and you avoid the additional fees.  It really depends on many factors, particluarly guest count. 
  • edited December 2011
    I'm also a Belle Mer bride, and while there are things that I wish I could change with the contract. With that said, I've had an amazing experience so far. They do change their contract and that's probably why people have different numbers, people have vendor fees, etc. Just like any other venue, BM gets rants and raves, but it seems like the rants only come from people who actually aren't getting married there. 

    When I was looking for a venue, I looked at many places that had event minimums. At Castle Hill I had a 50K, just for food and beverage! At least at BM, I could apply it to vendors if needed. We didn't go that route because of the mark up and taxes. But we never had a preferred vendor list, we were always told they work with everyone. 

    Good luck with picking your venue!  Always read your contact several times and ask many questions. 
  • mary106mary106 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    You are clearly paying for the view (best in New England) and the gorgeous, well-kept lawn in the back. But I used to work there - and can tell you that it is wayy overpriced. I'm sure you ladies who had your weddings here had a beautiful day - but the way they operate IS really messed up. I know that they've contacted vendors asking them to work for a certain fee because their bride has a budget- and you know they're still making a profit on just BOOKING that vendor- so really, they're not helping their brides out because vendors will not offer Belle Mer a discount. Money hungry! Think about it....
    jwkosek
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.weddings.com/Sites/Weddings/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_rhode-island_dont-scammed-belle-mer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:122Discussion:f1b97792-449a-4c6c-812d-2599e67e6d93Post:6fc68277-7314-407e-ae16-d37ea0cae896">Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer</a>:
    [QUOTE]You are clearly paying for the view (best in New England) and the gorgeous, well-kept lawn in the back. But I used to work there - and can tell you that it is wayy overpriced. I'm sure you ladies who had your weddings here had a beautiful day - but the way they operate IS really messed up. I know that they've contacted vendors asking them to work for a certain fee because their bride has a budget- and you know they're still making a profit on just BOOKING that vendor- so really, they're not helping their brides out because vendors will not offer Belle Mer a discount. Money hungry! Think about it....
    Posted by mary106[/QUOTE]

    This is actually not true.  We booked our linens and other rentals through Belle Mer and the company we are using gives them more than a 10% discount.  That discount was passed on to us.  I've seen the emails and quotes directly from the rental company because I'm on the emails.  I see the discount! 

    In our case, the event minimum at Belle Mer works.  We are having a fairly small wedding and we could not have met the minimums at many of the locations we looked at.   Ocean Cliff for example has a 40K food and beverage minimum for weekend night weddings.  40K would be a ridiculous amount of F&B for 85 people!  Our minimum is less at Belle Mer and we can count some of our vendors towards it....perfect!  We booked our band, ceremony musicians and rentals through BM and we came in about $100 over our minimum.  The rest of it we booked on our own.  So for some people, the event minimum works well!

    Not saying that Belle Mer isn't making money on us....of course they are, they are a business.  Every business should be trying to make money!!
  • RoyalOrientRoyalOrient member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_rhode-island_dont-scammed-belle-mer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:122Discussion:f1b97792-449a-4c6c-812d-2599e67e6d93Post:16b6842e-4bce-46ff-be2c-83d1578a15c8">Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer</a>:
    [QUOTE]BM gets rants and raves, but it seems like the rants only come from people who actually aren't getting married there.
    Posted by NewportBride710[/QUOTE]

    Not true. Weddingwire  has a number of negative reviews from brides who got married at Belle Mer. And what Vsha said about Belle Mer is right on the money...literally.
  • edited December 2011
    I think the argument could go back and forth forever...we can't influence how other people feel.  I will go on the record as saying BM was upfront with me about how they operate and the details of my contract and I chose another venue where I had more freedom and no markup on other vendors.   At the end of the day, it's a personal decision and I'm sure everyone has strong feelings based on their experience.  I'm hoping you guys will agree with me and end the thread.  =)
  • scubascaffscubascaff member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In actuality, what high end wedding venue DOESN'T have hidden costs? At Mt Hope, it was surprise after surprise... Bottom line, if you want to get married at their venue, you have to play by their rules. 

    If you can't afford to get married at Belle Mer, get over it and move on... I would also probably be more considerate of other bride's feelings here- brides that are really looking forward to their Belle Mer weddings. I'm sure the BM bashing wasn't appreciated...
    jwkosek
  • eileen2817eileen2817 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I agree with SummerBoston10 that Belle Mer is a business and it's reason for existing is to turn a profit.  We too were surprised at the admin fee but there it was - in the contract!  Luckily we are only using the space, caterers and bar.  

    Our issue right now is that they have changed the bar menu drastically prior to our event.   Most premium liquors have been eliminated.  Wines have been changed and the artisan beers are gone.  The last one has the groom really upset. As usual our coordinator is unresponsive.  Guess we'll have to go over her head.  

    To be fair they have made some concessions so far.  I'll let you all know how this turns out.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.weddings.com/Sites/Weddings/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_rhode-island_dont-scammed-belle-mer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:122Discussion:f1b97792-449a-4c6c-812d-2599e67e6d93Post:1556af62-940e-4c23-a34f-e75351daa133">Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer</a>:
    [QUOTE]I agree with SummerBoston10 that Belle Mer is a business and it's reason for existing is to turn a profit.  We too were surprised at the admin fee but there it was - in the contract!  Luckily we are only using the space, caterers and bar.   Our issue right now is that they have changed the bar menu drastically prior to our event.   Most premium liquors have been eliminated.  Wines have been changed and the artisan beers are gone.  The last one has the groom really upset. As usual our coordinator is unresponsive.  Guess we'll have to go over her head.   To be fair they have made some concessions so far.  I'll let you all know how this turns out.
    Posted by eileen2817[/QUOTE]

    There were some changes made to the bar list between when we booked and our wedding as well.  We were upset about some of the changes and we requested that they add back those missing items.  They did so with no problem and no extra cost. 

    Good luck!
  • edited December 2011
    The food prices were changed also for 2011. I'm not sure if anyone has looked. I went there and took a new menu I saw laying around.. when I got home I noticed that the entree price ( say $70 for fliet) now includes salad and desert! ( when I booked, everything was a la carte for the same $70.) You can choose from either menu so if this seems more attractive to you I would talk to your coordinator about it. I did and I think it is a much better deal. Plus if you don't want the desert you can realocate the $$ to somewhere else on the food price.
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  • eileen2817eileen2817 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/local-wedding-boards_rhode-island_dont-scammed-belle-mer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Local%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:122Discussion:f1b97792-449a-4c6c-812d-2599e67e6d93Post:09d34321-9f49-4f6f-9398-00469a487473">Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Don't get scammed at Belle Mer : There were some changes made to the bar list between when we booked and our wedding as well.  We were upset about some of the changes and we requested that they add back those missing items.  They did so with no problem and no extra cost.  Good luck!
    Posted by SummerBoston10[/QUOTE]
    <span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:12px;" class="Apple-style-span"><span style="background-image:initial;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;background-color:transparent;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;font-size:12px;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;vertical-align:baseline;font-family:Arial;border-width:0px;padding:0px;margin:0px;" class="Apple-style-span">They completely accomodated us as I thought they would.  Pre-event and with all the jitters I would recommend this venue to anyone looking for a beautiful site for their wedding.<div style="background-image:initial;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;background-color:transparent;border-style:initial;border-color:initial;font-size:12px;outline-width:0px;outline-style:initial;outline-color:initial;vertical-align:baseline;border-width:0px;padding:0px;margin:0px;">
    </div></span></span>
  • Hello, I am considering having my wedding at Belle Mer. This is my second marriage and my fiancé has never had a wedding so he really wants one. We are having a small reception with around 60 guests so we are considering off season which would be the beginning of April, 2014. I was informed that at off season the site fee would be $2,000 and the least expensive meal plan is $65 pp so with that and site fee it comes to around $90 pp and that's the least and that bare minimum. If any on has more recent info on Belle mer I would love to hear. I am not always on the site but I do check in from time to time. Thank you Anna
  • Question is, are they giving you an event minimum?
  • So, I didn't go with Belle Mer, but the issue you explain with alcohol is EXACTLY why I had my venue write RIGHT into the contract that the menu and pricing would be the same on the day of our wedding as it is in the brochure they gave me. There was no way in hell I was going to abide by a bait and switch.

    As to the OP: it sounds like you really just needed to read the contract more thoroughly. Contracts are LAW people. They're there to protect the venue, sure, but they're also there to protect YOU and you totally have a right to negotiate the contract once you get it so the terms are as you want them.
  • Funny - I'm reading here how the vendors get paid a $125 meal, yet I've talked to several vendors who have specifically told me that Belle Mer is one of the worst venues in terms of vendor treatment; I'm talking being thrown a PB&J sandwich 30 minutes after dinner is over.  Wonder which story is true.
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