Engaged couples scrambling for new wedding venue

SEATTLE -- Stephanie So found the perfect man. They met in a church youth group. She found the perfect gown. It was a deal at Seattle's Wedding Expo.

And the 25-year old thought she'd book the perfect venue for her August wedding.

"I should not be dealing with this right now. It is unfair that any bride, any family, anyone should go through something like this for such a special day," she said.

Stephanie is now scrambling to find a new place to get married after receiving an email from Amanda and Roland Crane, the owners of EM Fine Art on Dexter Avenue North. The Cranes terminated their agreement and wrote, "We do not have an obligation to make any payments to you. We also do not have the resources to do this."

The Cranes claimed their location had an electrical fire that caused $100,000 worth of damages, and despite pushing for repairs, they say the owners decided to demolish instead of repair. The Seattle Fire Department said it doesn't have any records of a response to that address.

Stephanie and her fiance worked six days a week to save for their wedding. They are now out their $1,300 deposit and had budgeted $2,500. They don't know how they'll afford another venue on such short notice.

"I am so desperate to find a date, I am willing to do it on a Friday or a Sunday or a Monday that week," Stephanie said.

She's also considering switching to a less expensive dessert-only reception.

Dozens of engaged couples are facing the same frantic problem and have joined forces on Facebook, even creating a spreadsheet of how much they've lost together in deposits. That total topped $59,000. Florists and photographers are offering suggestions and backyards, venues are offering discounts.

But the Cranes aren't offering relief.

"We can't reach him, his voice mail is full, his PO Box has been cleared out, he's not responding by email," Stephanie said.

She now has to reprint and resend her invitations once she books a new venue, and she has one wish besides a dream wedding.

"I would love it if Roland and Amanda would come forward and be honest and truthful and return our deposits. Not just for myself but for the other brides," she said.