NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The happiest time of their lives was ripped from hundreds of couples after a popular event space in Brooklyn abruptly shut down.
“It was like a piece of my heart had just been ripped out of me,” said Camille Hlavka.
Hlavka and her fiance are just one of more than 200 couples left scrambling after the owner of Brooklyn wedding venue reBar unexpectedly closed up shop and disappeared with their deposits, CBS 2’s Diane Macedo reported.
“They do your DJ’s, they do your flowers, you do your ceremony. They do everything there, they take care of linens — the whole wedding, the whole package was through them,” Hlavka said.
“I called my dad and I called my mom and they both said you can’t panic you just have to find a new place,” said Julie Villar, another reBar victim.
Just one week later both couples now plan to have their weddings at Deity, one of many venues they say are going above and beyond to help reBar victims.
“They essentially have done everything to cut any additional costs for brides,” Hlavka said.
To help even further, family and friends have provided loans and donations, and the couples are also helping each other out, Macedo reported.
“When I’m done with my wedding I’m going to pass on my bouquet and the paper flowers that we made to somebody else,” Villar said.
While the brides-to-be say they’ve been overwhelmed by all the support, they’ve also had to look out for scammers.
“There were people who said they were giving reBar brides discounts and we came to realize they gave someone a price that was actually $5 per person over what they had quoted them less than 6 months ago,” Villar said.
Claire Rosenzweig, of the Better Business Bureau, said these scenarios happen much more frequently than people think, which is why all couples should look into wedding insurance and take other precautions.
“When you pay for a venue like that you should never be putting everything upfront. It should always be a portion of it, and try to use a credit card whenever possible because at least with that you have some place to go if something goes wrong,” Rosenzweig said.
The couples are now looking into filing a class action lawsuit against reBar and its owner Jason Stevens.
Stevens is reported to have closed the venue because of financial problems. Police arrested him Thursday. He is facing tax fraud and grand larceny charges.
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