EVERETT, Wash. - Couples -- some only days away from their weddings -- were left scrambling Monday after learning Monte Cristo Ballroom, an all-inclusive wedding venue in downtown Everett, suddenly closed.
Breanna Wilbur, who is less than two weeks from being married, said she first heard about the closure from a venue photographer, and later received a message from Monte Cristo Ballroom that said it could no longer operate because of a “recent major decline in the owner’s health.”
Confusion spread as people who said they paid more than $12,000 for all-inclusive wedding packages could not reach anyone at Monte Cristo Ballroom by phone or in person, and the company’s website was no longer active Monday.
“I tried calling them and nobody was there to answer,” said Wilbur.
“We have three kids, like we struggled to pay this off,” said Miranda Barnett, who plans to postpone her January wedding. “Over $12,000 and it’s just gone.”
Another couple, Cindy Perez and Brayan Ortiz, are supposed to get married there on Sunday.
“Silent panic. Silent panic for me is what I felt,” Ortiz said. The venue was supposed to handle everything from catering to the dress. “We planned it out more than a year ago, and because of medical conditions, we planned it with an all-inclusive venue to avoid stress,” Ortiz said.
“And now that’s become the nightmare of it. We had everything and now it’s all gone,” Perez said.
A note posted at the business does not provide specifics on refunds: “We realize that couples have paid deposits, payments, and even full payment for their weddings. We are in the process of getting information on how this money will be paid back, but rest assured that it is our first priority, and we will have more answers very soon, we have all couples’ contact information…”
State records list Anthony Reeves as the Monte Cristo Ballroom owner. KIRO 7 was not able to reach Reeves for comment Monday.
On Tuesday, neighbors of Reeves in Kirkland confirmed the house he lives in, but no one answered the door.
The note posted at Monte Cristo Ballroom said it had booked weddings through 2021 and all were canceled. Planning appointments, dress store appointments and rehearsals are also canceled.
Now some couples are considering a class-action lawsuit.
“I've been getting a lot of calls, probably I would say two to three dozen,” said attorney Moshe “Jeff” Admon.
He said he’s already working on a potential lawsuit and that he’s dealt with this venue before.
“It’s a crazy scenario but it doesn't surprise me based on my previous interaction with the company,” Admon said.
He said in 2017, his clients dealt with a lack of communication, sudden décor changes, and other problems.
“Vey shady,” Admon said. “The first question now is, where is the money? Where’s the money these people paid? And what’s been done with it? And is there a way for them to recoup? None of these people want a profit, they want to get their money back, so they can continue planning their weddings,” Admon said.
Several employees also tell KIRO7 they are missing at least two weeks' pay, and said they also received no heads up about the sudden closure.
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