‘The experience has been ruined’: Couples lose thousands when Colorado Springs wedding venue closes because of COVID pandemic
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The Rustic Lace Barn was an all-inclusive wedding venue located near Old Colorado City. Online reviews boasted glowing praise up until about a year ago.
Brides started sharing the difficulty they experienced with the venue while trying to navigate the ever-changing pandemic. Some one-star reviews on Google and The Knot said the owner and employees were hard to reach.
According to documents filed with the Colorado secretary of state, the corporation that ran The Rustic Lace Barn dissolved on Feb. 7. 11 News obtained two copies of a letter the venue owner mailed out to clients on Feb. 26 stating, “Due to government-mandated closures of certain businesses arising from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Forever Lace Events, Ltd., a Colorado corporation doing business as The Rustic Lace Barn (”Rustic Lace”) is no longer in business.”
The letter went on to say, “At this point, Rustic Lace has minimal assets, primarily consisting of used lighting, decorations, tables, folding chairs, and furniture with an estimated total liquidation value of approximately Six Thousand Dollars.”
Several brides reached out to the 11 News Call For Action team when they realized they wouldn’t be getting the thousands of dollars they’d put down to book The Rustic Lace Barn back.
‘There’s no way we’re the only people that this happened to’
Ashley Humberstone said she and her fiancé, Robbie, got engaged in Las Vegas in November 2019.
“He asked me to marry him at the fountains at the Bellagio,” Humberstone said.
The couple quickly started planning their wedding. Their first stop was The Rustic Lace Barn in January 2020.
“We were so excited,” Humberstone remembered. “We walked in, and it was just this beautiful barn.”
They booked the venue for October 2020 and put down a 25 percent deposit of $2,693.95, according to documents shared with 11 News.
Then, the pandemic hit.
“It just, at that point, became very logical that we needed to reschedule because no one knew what was going on or what was going to happen,” Humberstone said.
So she and her fiancé put down another 25 percent and moved their wedding date to Oct. 10, 2021, according to documents.
Now, with nearly $5,400 paid for the venue and the wedding more than a year out, Humberstone said she felt like everything was on track. She said she was receiving monthly check-in emails from The Rustic Lace Barn and got the last one on Feb. 6 -- just one day before the company dissolved.
Humberstone said she was still under the assumption her wedding plans were moving forward. That is, until she checked her mail at the beginning of March.
“I was furious, and I was distraught, and I was sobbing.”
She said she’d received the letter dated Feb. 26 stating the company had dissolved, which meant she would not be getting married at The Rustic Lace Barn in seven months.
“If you knew this, if you knew you were permanently closing, like, why didn’t you fill your clients in? We had no idea. Not a single solitary clue that any of this was going to happen,” Humberstone said. “It was literally just a complete straight slap in the face.”
The letter listed a new email address to reach the owner. Humberstone said she emailed him the same day she received the letter and has yet to hear back.
Now, she and her fiancé are starting wedding planning from scratch. The couple was hopeful they’d be able to find something for later in the year, but they said everything is booked.
“Everybody who had to reschedule their weddings from last year had to reschedule to this year,” Humberstone said. “So now when we’ve been looking to try to see what we can do or what we can afford now because we’re out $5,400, like, all of these dates are taken.”
Despite the setbacks, Humberstone said she still can’t wait to marry her fiancé.
“My excitement to be his best friend and the person he wants to marry will never change,” she said. “But the experience has been ruined.”
Together, the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
“The wedding can’t happen. That already sucks, but then to, like, add salt to the wound by keeping everybody’s money is just so gross,” Humberstone said. “I’ve never been the person to sit back and just let things happen and not say something when it’s wrong … I just felt like there’s no way we’re the only people that this happened to. But if I’m the one person to say something, to bring light to it and maybe it helps somebody else out, that’s what matters.”
‘We would like to take some sort of action to get our money back’
Another bride, Alliyah Dowell, said she met her future husband while she was working at Bubba’s 33 in Colorado Springs in 2017.
“We ended up talking and went on our first date five days later,” she said. The rest, as they say, was history.
The couple got engaged in May 2019. The next month, they started touring wedding venues.
“So I had actually had a cousin that had had her baby shower at The Rustic Lace Barn, so I kind of already knew that I loved it,” Dowell said. She and her husband booked the venue and were set to get married on July 26, 2020.
But, of course, their plans were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had decided we wanted to postpone to this July of 2021, but we decided we wanted to do something small last year because we had some family that was supposed to be moving overseas, and we just wanted to do something small and celebrate during that time,” Dowell said.
At that point, according to documents shared with 11 News, she and her husband had already paid for 75 percent of the wedding. The Rustic Lace Barn now had $8,436.66 from them.
Even though her wedding was more than a year out, Dowell said she was concerned about the lack of communication with the venue.
“They were supposed to send monthly check-in emails to see how we were doing, if we had any questions, if we needed anything, and that did not happen,” she said. “December, January rolled around, and we started getting monthly check-ins, and I had reached out a few times and heard back relatively quickly until beginning of March and I had sent an email and it came back that the email was no longer in use.”
Dowell said she tried another email that was listed on The Rustic Lace Barn’s website, but that one bounced back, too.
“That’s when I started to be like, ‘OK, something’s weird.’ So then I just Googled them … because I wanted their phone number and from Google, it said that they were permanently closed.”
Dowell said she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“I was like, there’s, I mean, there’s no way. Like, they would have said something. They would have called, like, I just talked to them, I don’t know, two weeks before. There’s no, there’s no way.”
Unlike other brides, Dowell said she never received the Feb. 26 letter stating the company was out of business.
“We’ve moved twice since we booked the wedding, so, and of course I’ve done change of address, but with two moves, it’s hard to say if I’m going to get that letter or not.”
Dowell said she did her own research online, reading blogs and reviews on different websites. That’s where she came across a copy of the letter someone shared.
“It’s pretty upsetting that they couldn’t send an email, make phone calls individually to people,” Dowell said.
Now out more than $8,000, Dowell said she and her husband are looking into taking legal action.
“The right thing to do would have been to send us our money back so that we could go get married somewhere else, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “As of now, we would like to take some sort of action to get our money back because it was a lot of money, and my parents worked hard to give us that.”
Dowell said her mom also filed a complaint against The Rustic Lace Barn with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
As for her future wedding plans, Dowell said her parents still want to give her and her husband their dream wedding, but she’s pregnant and wants to focus on her baby for now.
“Maybe (we can) do something for our five or 10-year anniversary,” she said.
‘You dream about this day for your whole life and then they just ruin it’
11 News reached out to bride-to-be Nicole Kyle after seeing, through online court records, that she had filed a lawsuit against The Rustic Lace Barn on April 7. Kyle agreed to meet with 11 Call For Action reporter Jenna Middaugh to share her story.
Kyle told Middaugh she met her fiancé at Cowboys in downtown Colorado Springs in June 2017. The couple was engaged at the end of 2019 and booked The Rustic Lace Barn in January 2020.
Their original wedding date was set for Oct. 1, 2021, so they didn’t have to worry about rescheduling because of the pandemic.
According to documents shared with 11 News, the couple originally put down a 25 percent nonrefundable deposit of $2,825.37 on Jan. 29, 2020. The next payment wasn’t scheduled until April 4, 2021, but Kyle said she paid it early.
“We got a little extra money with the stimulus, so I was like, ‘Let’s pay it, get it out of the way,’” Kyle said. “Now I regret doing that because then I wouldn’t have lost so much money.”
With $5,650.74 paid toward the venue by March 5, 2020, and about a year and a half until the wedding, Kyle was ahead of schedule. However, the bride-to-be said she started to become concerned about a lack of communication.
“It’s always been really hard to get ahold of them. Just email, phone call, anything,” Kyle said. “You could never get ahold of them.”
Kyle provided emails to 11 News to show she’d reached out to The Rustic Lace Barn on Feb. 5 to inquire about not receiving monthly check-in emails and to ask about preparations for her wedding, which, at that point, was only eight months away.
Kyle emailed the venue again on Feb. 10 after not getting a response to her Feb. 5 email. An employee with The Rustic Lace Barn replied on Feb. 11 with answers to Kyle’s questions. According to documents the venue owner filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, The Rustic Lace Barn dissolved on Feb. 7. The email response from the venue that Kyle provided to 11 News made no mention that The Rustic Lace Barn was no longer a company.
“They literally emailed me three days after their business was dissolved and told me to proceed as if I was still getting married on Oct. 1, and that’s, like, just the worst part,” Kyle said. “Like, why even reply to my email? You don’t reply to any of the other ones. Why reply to that one?”
In an email the venue owner sent to 11 News, he stated the employee who sent the email to Kyle was one of the last to know the company wasn’t going to make it.
After replying to the Feb. 11 email and not receiving a response, Kyle said she looked The Rustic Lace Barn up on Google to find a phone number to call the venue.
“When I Googled, the website said ‘permanently closed.’ So then I start digging. Looked for their Facebook, gone. Looked for their Instagram, gone.”
Kyle said she received the Feb. 26 letter stating the company had dissolved a few days later. Around that same time, Kyle, who works as a paralegal at Kanthaka Law, said she sent a demand letter.
“I have been planning this wedding for over a year,” she said. “I had sent out save the dates. My family lost money that was flying in out of town. I lost money from my photographer who’s also a single mom who has to give me some of that money back and that takes away from her kids, and that’s not OK. It’s not fair.”
Even more than the money, Kyle said she’s upset about missing out on potential memories.
“You dream about this day for your whole life and then they just ruin it,” she said. “My 7-year-old was going to walk me down the aisle, and now I don’t have an aisle to walk down. My 2-year-old now, she was going to be the flower girl. There’s no aisle to throw flowers down anymore.”
Kyle said she doesn’t anticipate getting much from her lawsuit, but she said she filed it to make a point.
“So they know that they hurt people, and they can’t get away with it.”
As for her wedding plans, Kyle said she and her fiancé plan to have a smaller ceremony in the mountains this summer.
“We have picked July 14, so it’s like 7/14/21, so it’s 7-7-7,” she said. “Hopefully it’s a little luckier than Oct. 1.”
Response from The Rustic Lace Barn
11 News first emailed The Rustic Lace Barn on March 17 and received an automatic reply the same day that said, “Your message will be responded to within 10 business days.”
On March 18, 11 News called the number listed on The Rustic Lace Barn’s website and left a message. No one ever called 11 News back. The phone number is now out of service, and the website is offline.
The owner of the venue replied to our email on March 24. 11 News and the owner went back and forth over email several times over the course of a month trying to set up a time for an interview, but the owner did not commit before the story deadline.
In one of his emails to 11 News, the owner said, “... COVID wiped out a lot of very viable small businesses and caused a lot of pain for those who were affected by it -- on all sides. Nobody is walking away from this unscathed ...”
While looking through court records for The Rustic Lace Barn, in addition to Kyle’s lawsuit filed on April 7, 11 News also found a small claims case filed Aug. 8, 2020, that appears to be from another couple that had booked the wedding venue.
According to the ruling in that case, The Rustic Lace Barn was ordered to refund the plaintiff $7,500 because of a clause in a wedding contract that states, “A party will be relieved of its obligations under this Facility Rental Agreement in the event that the performance of those obligations by the party is made illegal, abnormally di cult (sic), impractical or impossible as a result of any event beyond the reasonable control of that party. Events that are beyond the reasonable control of a party may include, but shall not be limited to, … outbreak of infectious disease…”
The court ruled the COVID-19 pandemic is defined as an outbreak of infectious disease, which entitled the couple to a refund. The order was filed Jan. 28. The Rustic Lace Barn dissolved 10 days later.
Court records also show the venue owner filed for bankruptcy on April 20. Online records list 154 creditors for the company, including all three brides who spoke with 11 News for this story.
Couples taking action against The Rustic Lace Barn
Humberstone and Dowell both told 11 News their fiancé and mother, respectively, filed complaints with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office against The Rustic Lace Barn.
11 News reached out to the Attorney General’s Office and was told the office can’t confirm or comment on complaints or investigations.
Since The Rustic Lace Barn dissolved, 11 News asked the AG’s Office if they can investigate companies that are no longer in business. We were told “it depends” because the Attorney General’s Office operates on a case-by-case basis.
The AG’s Office said people can call 800-222-4444 to file a complaint. People with concerns about a business can also contact the Better Business Bureau.
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