Kitchener-Waterloo

Weddings saved by companies stepping up for abandoned brides

After a local wedding planner suddenly closed up shop, local businesses have stepped in as Good Samaritans to help 60 brides in distress.

Couples left with little time to find solutions, so Samaritans help out

Cynthia Lean and her soon-to-be husband Sean Freedman needed to quickly find chairs, linens, lights and fresh floral arrangements for her September wedding after months of planning went to waste. (Cynthia Lean/Facebook)

Cynthia Lean was planning her dream wedding until a business she was relying on closed and left her with a nightmare. 

Lean said she started making plans with Waterloo-based Parlour Soiree in January to book chairs, linens, lights and fresh floral arrangements for her wedding set for Sept. 3. All of that planning went awry when the wedding planner closed shop, leaving the Guelph resident in a mad scramble to find new arrangements.

Less than two months away from the special day, she said she saw some Facebook posts from the company. She had made plans with the business before it became clear that some contracts would not be fulfilled. 

"It is extremely frustrating," Lean admitted. 

And the soon-to-be bride wasn't alone. More than 60 couples were told the company would not be able to honour service some contracts and frustrated women lashed out on social media.

"At that point, I contacted other businesses because I did not feel confident that the contracts we had would be continued," she said. 

Lean said she had to find another way to get 72 chairs and enough linens, lights and flowers for her backyard celebration. 

"I contacted several other businesses throughout Ontario because I was willing to travel for these services because I didn't think I would be able to get them with this short of a notice," Lean said.

"One of the companies I contacted was Fresh Look Design in Kitchener and they were able to make sure that I had everything that I need," she explained. "It appears there's been three main companies that have come together to make things happen."

HR Entertainment in Guelph, Betroth the Wedding Store in Cambridge and Fresh Look Design were given details about her plans and forged a way forward to ensure Lean's special day would be memorable for the right reasons. 

'Co-operative effort'

"We had heard about it through social media," Ron Thompson, general manager of Betroth, told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Friday.

Looking at all of the weddings booked up to 2017, Thompson realized this was too much of a task for one company to handle on short notice. 

"It was going to need a co-operative effort of a few different companies," he acknowledged. "These are three solid companies that have the ability to do this."

Thompson noted that in some cases, the companies stepping up were operating at a loss or breaking even. 

"Moving forward, we're fulfilling all of the details up until 2017, minus any of the deposits."

Bump in the budget

Lean admitted she is not sure if she will ever see the $916.66 deposit she said she left with Parlour Soiree, calling it a "battle" for her money. 

"You build a budget that's comfortable and then things like this happen that takes away from the whole point," she said.

But despite her unexpected circumstances, Lean is maintaining a positive approach. 

"Some people are stuck the day before their wedding to try to find these things. I consider myself lucky that I had six weeks notice."

Parlour Soiree could not be reached for comment, but they did write on Facebook that they are "very close to coming to a solution" and are hoping to contact everyone affected by July 30. 

With files from Joe Pavia

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