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Wedding Venue Abruptly Closes; Couples’ Plans Ruined

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Montefiori Estate

Montefiori Estate in Lemont abruptly closed, and left people who had already booked their weddings there extremely frustrated. (Credit: CBS)

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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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