For most couples, the biggest wedding planning checklist item to tackle was finalizing the seating chart… until their venue suddenly closed. For 7,500 engaged folks across the country, a nightmare scenario played out in real time in late January with the bankruptcy of Noah’s Event Venues, a corporate wedding venue company with locations spanning the U.S.
A month later, the scenario continues to affect swaths of couples, many of whom are just now in the process of securing alternative spaces for their nuptials, while accounting for financial losses upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. When Noah’s Events filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2019, many couples didn’t even imagine that eight months later, a Utah-based bankruptcy judge would order the company close all locations and cease operations.
What Happened to Noah’s Events?
On January 20, Noah’s Events had 42 event venues across dozens of states, leaving to-be weds scrambling and befuddled. More than 500 employees were also suddenly left without jobs. The outrage and the heartbreak abundant. Resolving dilemmas from location sourcing to finances left couples—many of whom used their entire savings to secure their venues—in a state of confusion and panic.
As seen with previous bankruptcies (the Alfred Angelo shuttering for one), those across the wedding industry closely monitored the situation to see where and how exactly they could help. Dozens of venues immediately stepped in to offer assistance to couples during a time of wedding planning crisis, many even offering discounts to help alleviate additional burdens.
Local Vendors Are Stepping in to Help
“The first thing we recommend to couples impacted by the closing is to check their local Facebook wedding groups, or even the Noah’s Event Venue Closure Support Group for lists of available dates at other venues in their area,” says John Brooks, who owns and operates three venues in Columbus, Ohio. Brooks and his team were among wedding industry pros to help local couples. Anyone in the region who was suddenly without a venue due to Noah’s Events closing was offered a credit of $1,500, along with a waived fee of typical in-house and catering charges, at Brooks’s three Ohio-based venues The Estate, Brookshire and WatersEdge.
His team has also found themselves in a unique position of doling out advice to couples as well. “Take a moment to check [as many] sources first,” he advises. “That’ll help eliminate the phone calls or emails to find venues with open dates or scheduling breaks close to the couple’s original wedding date.“
Couples Have Financial Options
Financially speaking, couples should know they have options. First, we encourage couples review their contract again and dispute charges with their credit card companies and financial institutions. “We’ve seen former Noah’s clients dispute charges with their bank and receive refunds,” says Brooks.
Second, follow all necessary steps to file a claim since the company is bankrupt. “Noah legally owes (refunds) to everyone, there’s no dispute about that,” Salt Lake City-based attorney Kenneth Cannon told the Des Moines Register. “The problem is that there’s nothing that I know of, there’s not very much, to be able to repay people with.”
Those Affected Are Starting GoFundMe Pages
If waiting for repayment is still creating issues for you and your partner, select couples impacted by the closing are taking financial matters into their own hands during this difficult time. Some have started GoFundMe pages to raise money to offset the costs of venue deposits (or full payments) they’ve now lost to Noah’s Events. Take for example Iana Amsterdam and Tevin Hester of South Carolina, who set up a GoFundMe page for their wedding planning woes.
“They literally took all of the money we had saved up for our wedding,” Amsterdam tells The Knot. “My fiancé is a volunteer track and field coach for Clemson University and he drives Uber and Lyft part-time. I am currently a graduate student at Clemson University with a part-time job as a Starbucks barista. We pretty much used every paycheck to make monthly payments to Noah’s in order for pay for our wedding venue. Our family paid the initial deposit of just over $1,000 to Noah’s but they also have tight finances and aren’t able to help as much as they would like. We ultimately ended up paying them a little over $6500.”
Together, the couple created a site explaining their situation. “I honestly was so devastated when I found out about the bankruptcy because I literally saw our wedding go down the drain,” Amsterdam says. “We decided to start the GoFundMe because we were already so far along in planning, and had so many people who were willing to help us in any way… We didn’t want to just give up our dream of having a wedding.”
The couple was ultimately able to fundraise enough for a deposit for their new venue, The Barn at Sitton Hill Farm in South Carolina. “The owner gave us a discount and has been so understanding and helpful to us,” she reveals. “Though this situation has been tough, I believe everything happens for a reason and God will work everything out the way he intended for it to be. I pray every couple and every family impacted by this event is able to have the wedding of their dreams and that other venues learn from this and don’t make the same mistakes that Noah’s made.”
“It sounds cliché, but do your best to focus on the positives,” says Brooks. “There has been such a togetherness that has been cultivated within the wedding community to support these couples who have been affected by the closing of Noah’s. Everywhere you turn, there are people and organizations willing to help out. We have yet to run across another wedding professional who is not providing some sort of special service or discount to these couples. By keeping a positive outlook, you will be amazed to see the generosity of our industry professionals.”
If you’re a couple who’s still in search of a venue, we recommend checking out our marketplace for a detailed overview of local options, plus ratings of vendors and more.