Wedding Venue Abruptly Closes; Couples’ Plans Ruined

UPDATED 12/09/11 6:57 a.m.

LEMONT, Ill. (CBS) — Some Chicago area couples who were ready to get married at a Lemont wedding facility are running into some major frustration since the venue suddenly shut down.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, over a year ago, Mary Kate Farnan of Brookfield booked her wedding next spring at the beautiful Montefiori Estate, at 11250 Archer Ave. in Lemont.

The promotional video for Montefiori shows beautiful gardens and lawns that would make for the perfect romantic setting.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

But last week, Farnan suddenly received a letter from Lifescapes Productions, the company that operates Montefiori, informin her that because of financial troubles, the venue has gone out of business and has canceled her wedding.

“First, it was upsetting that I wouldn’t be able to have my wedding there, because the place is beautiful,” Farnan said. “But after reality set in, it was a little bit more upsetting a couple of days later,” when she became concerned about whether she would get her $6,000 deposit back.

Even before she found out the Montefiori Estate had closed, Farnan says paying for the wedding was going to be a struggle. But with her deposit gone, she says it’s going to be even tougher to afford the wedding.

Another bride, Emily Reed of Lockport, has found herself with her planned June 8 wedding up in the air.

“I’m ready to go to an island,” she said.

Reed and her fiancé, Casey Karkowski, thought they had found the perfect venue the beautiful Montefiori Estate, and they put down a $10,000 deposit back in May. They are now committed to the date.

“We’ve booked our DJ; we’ve booked our flowers; we’ve booked our videographer; we’ve booked our photographer and each of those places required a non-refundable deposit as well,” Reed said.

She figures in all, she’s spent about $14,000.

But unlike other brides and grooms, Reed never even got a cancellation letter from the owners of Montefiori. She found out the venue had shut down when a nearby hotel where she had booked guest rooms wrote to say it was sorry about what had happened.

Reed told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman the person on the line said, “‘We’re so sorry to hear about what happened at Montefiori. Let us know if you’d like to look at our venue for your event.’ And I said, ‘What?’”

She ended up consulting a lawyer about trying to get back her $10,000 deposit.

A spokeswoman for Lifescapes Productions confirms foreclosure, saying property value at Montefiori declined 65 percent since 2005, and taxes tripled.

She says they let customers know as soon as they could.

Registered letters went out saying, “Returning your deposit is our top priority,” and “please accept our deepest apologies.”

Even though she didn’t get the letter, Reed did hear from an owner on Thursday.

“He did promise us that we were going to get our money back within 20 days,” she said.

But with the date set, Reed said, “I’m a bride without a plan.”

For her wedding now, Reed says she and her fiancé might end up just going to a courthouse.

The Lifescapes spokeswoman said over the next 72 hours, the owner will be phoning each and every person who booked an event at Montefiori in 2012. She reiterated that the company is not going to rip anyone off.

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  • RBGG

    Please take the time to write to state representatives & attorney general, Lisa Madigan about theivery like that.

    Businesses know well in advance that they will be going out of business but still book dates and take tens of thousands of dollars in what is a legal agreement, then go belly-up. That’s criminal. They don’t need a gun to rob you.

    The same goes for landlords that have buildings in foreclosure and never tell the tenants. While the tenant(s) are at work, they are evicted and return home to find their belongings at the curb and picked through.

    Businesses that know they are going to file for bankruptcy and landlords who are foreclosed should file notices with the state ASAP and send notices to everybody they do business with.

    Write to the state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan.

  • Ashley Nicole

    Anyone affected by the banquet hall’s closing please contact George at Gaslite Manor Banquets. We are located in the western suburbs and we can accommodate many 2012 dates. Our number is 630-851-2300. Visit:

  • dan

    When you write to the law makers suggest that they require facilities that collect fees or deposits to hold a date and such TO REQUIRE THE MONEY BE PUT IN AN ESCROW ACCOUNT HELD BY A THIRD PARTY

    Just like a real estste deal. Deposits for banquets should never be allowed to be used for operating expenses today when the event is a year out!

  • Kyle

    Yes, this is a story but……….what I think the real underlying story should be is why the Montefiori closed. In her on air report Thursday night on the 10:00 news, Kristyn Hartman very casually mentioned since 2005 the Montefiori proeprty taxes have tripled. Do you think this might be the real story? The cause of why Montefiori really closed? Property taxes triplilng in six years is a travesty of justice and emphasizes the mismangaement of Cook County government and its inability to be just and spend within its means. This is disgusting at best and corruption at its worst.

  • Steve

    Yep, I agree. There is always more to the story…I heard they also had an impossible time trying to get any bank to secure finances. Thank President Obama for this one! All businesses are in the government’s cross hairs.

  • Roni

    What an insane amount of money to spend just for the VENUE for a wedding…

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