Jilted brides and grooms are still demanding answers from the owner of Inspirador, a Chandler wedding venue that is closing its doors after this weekend. Many couples had put down large deposits and are being told by the owners that refunds are not likely.
Is there anything these couples can do now to get their money back, and how can others just starting to plan their weddings protect themselves?
As far as the 60 couples in this situation, a civil lawsuit appears to be their only real option. The owner of Inspirador did file bankruptcy last year, but that case has been dismissed. If the company should file again, these couples would most likely be considered primary creditors and be first in line to receive assets - but only up to $2,600; the rest of their deposits would likely be unrecoverable. Customers of Inspirador need to know if the company refiles and how to get on the list as a creditor.
To do that, stay in touch with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix. Every few weeks, check to see if the owner refiles for bankruptcy by calling the court at 602-682-4000. Ask if a new, active bankruptcy for Inspirador is on file.
You must take action and file a "proof of claim" form at the site to get on the list of creditors.
For couples just starting to plan who want to avoid this kind of mess, consider wedding insurance.
"We never really thought about the financial viability of this company," Scott Bonomo said.
Bonomo and his bride-to-be have $5,000 on deposit with Inspirador. Bonomo says he's tried to think of how he could have avoided this mess, but the idea of wedding insurance never came to mind.
"Insurance never came up because it's a wedding, and we never considered that they would go bankrupt," Bonomo said.
But independent insurance agent Geri Custer says wedding insurance can be a lifesaver. You can purchase a policy a year in advance of your wedding date and it's a great value.
"First of all, it's very inexpensive, agents don't make money on it, so it's not like we're out there promoting it every day, but it gives you that added protection against those financial losses that are out of their control," Custer said.
Custer says for less than $200, couples can get full coverage for things like dresses that don't arrive, photos that get ruined and even a lost deposit on a venue that closes. She says buy the insurance before your first outlay of money on a venue.
"What you buy today will help you down the road, eight months along the line. You're going to be accumulating costs as you go forward, and as long as you can have a reasonable estimate of your total costs, you can buy that insurance today," Custer said.
For people like Bonomo, it's too late for wedding insurance, and he's not confident that Inspirador will come through with refunds.
"They're not trying to help us. They're very broad with their communication out to the press, but they're not following through," Bonomo said.
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