Orlando Weddings / Michele Rapaport
Time Line / recap of Situation
October 29, 2007 – My mother e-mailed three wedding planners to get information on their services. Michele from Orlando Weddings was the first to replay – with information and pictures of a possible wedding site. (My mother was the one planning my wedding as I was on a cruise ship and my fiancée was in the process of moving to Florida. Since I am Canadian and my mother lives in Canada she thought a Wedding planner would be the best route)
October 30, 2007 - Michele e-mailed to my mother the 1st contract for review.
Nov. 14th 2007 - Down payment was made by credit card in the amount of $1500.00 (we are trying to get a refund for this as services were not rendered but still having to send more info to the credit card company)
Over the next few months, many e-mails went back and forth between my mother and Michele with regards to menu, flowers, room blocks, etc. Mom never had any concerns as her e-mails were answered quickly and she always got the information needed.
April 2008 – My Mother (Colleen) purchased two money orders in order to pay the balance of the contract. John and I had gone to Canada for a visit and the money order where sent back with us to give Michele.
May 2008 – John and I met with Michele for the first time at her office. My mother told me to give her both money orders cause she wanted to get her all paid so that we did not have to worry about it later and she felt that Michele was doing a good job. The money orders were for $5000. and $ 2, 338.44 (USD) (as per the contract 80% had to be paid by June 17/08 and the balance by July 2/08 anyway)
John and I did not get the same confident feeling that my mother had during our meeting. And were even more upset as the days went past and my e-mails and calls where not answered.
May 20th 2008 – my mother had decided to surprise us for the wedding by ordering a butterfly release. She contacted Michele and a response came from a new assistant the she had hired – Francesca. A few e-mails went back and forth between them with regards to this before my mother purchased them.
May 28th, 2008 – The butterflies were order and paid using my mother’s credit card.
$240.75 (usd) She was told by Francesca that the company required payment directly but the payment processed on her statement shows the payment went to Orlando Weddings (we were later informed by Tamuel (the wedding planner that took over after the fiasco that our butterfly payment had been actually credited to another wedding and she was unsure where the butterflies went)
During the e-mails sent from Francesca there were also discussion about the cake, flowers, DJ etc. Nothing seemed to be getting done and we had not met with any of our vendors yet.
June 15, 2008 - my mom decided enough was enough she got on a flight and came to Florida to see if we could start to get things accomplished. (this was an additional cost $260.50 for the flight not to mention her time off work and missing her 30th wedding anniversary with Dad)
I had been trying for months for Michele to get me appointments to see all the vendors for my wedding but nothing had been done and then when she said she originally had them no one showed.
When I contacted Michele to let her know mom was on her way and that we need the appts for these days she finally got appointments booked.
June 16th we met at the wedding site (Legends Golf and Country Club) – my mother, Michele, Francesca and myself. Chose the actual wedding location (totally different from what we had planned from the pictures Michele originally sent) We had lunch and discussed the set up of the room as well as other details for the day. (limo, photographer, bar, etc)
We also met with Blossoms to chose flowers, centre pieces, decorations, and a arbor (as we needed this since the original site had changed) I was shocked to learn that Blossom knew nothing about our color scheme, the flowers I wanted or how many I needed. This information was all included in the contract.
June 17th we met with the Cake ladies (Frosting on the Cake), Picked our design and took away some sample pieces to help pick flavors. Again amazed that she had no idea about the flavors we wanted when we had already made this clear to our Wedding Coordinator (Michele)
Things seemed to be back on track and Mom returned to Canada.
July 8, 2008 – I finally met with the Dj.
July 16th 2008, Michele emailed my mom with the final total of what was owed for the wedding. (due to the additional items above the contract – extra flowers, tent/canopy, additional hours for DJ and Photographer) This came to $2006.33.
July 19th, John and I met with Michele for our final meeting where we were to go over all the last min plans for the wedding we met for about 30mins I told her that when my mom comes down for the wedding is when she will bring the final money order for the final amount owed.
July 27th I got an email from another wedding coordinator Tamuel Cowart, (of Remembering When) telling me that Orlando Weddings has closed there doors and she will be taking care of my wedding. I was very confused so I called her and she explained to me that Orlando Weddings had gone Bankrupt and that she would be taking care of my wedding as of that day. I hung up and called my mom ( she was on her way to Florida -driving) I told her what was going on and she asked me to call Tamuel back and make sure we were still going to have a wedding and if we still had vendors. I called Tamuel and she told me she was not really sure that she would start making phone calls on Monday to find out. I told Tamuel I was meeting with Legends Golf and Country Club on the 29th to go over final numbers and she told me that she would meet us there.
July 28th - Tamuel called and asked if we could meet a little bit before the meeting with Legends to go over the Wedding. I was unable to do that, as my parents had not yet arrived.
July 29th - We (my fiancée, mother and I) met with Tamuel, her assistant Val Dailey and Renee of Legends. We started by discussing the menus and our wine selection for the dinner. This was when we got our first big shock…… Renee asked for $ 2, 829.77 for the food. Mom explained that all the funds had been paid to Orlando Weddings for the food and asked what is going on!!
Tamuel explained that the Legends as well as our other vendors had not been paid and that we needed to first figure out how to get the food paid for if we were going to have a wedding.
Mom had the money order she had brought with her for her final payment to Orlando Weddings (but luckily she had not yet made it payable to anyone) so instead gave that to Legends as well as her credit card to pay for the food. ( Renee, I am sure did not give us a total cost as we were also using the driving range for our wedding site and the Grill rest. for our reception – it appears that she only charged us for the food – she did tell us that she had received only a $500 deposit from Orlando Weddings)
We then sat down with Tamuel and discussed our other vendors...she had spoken to most of them by this time. The D.J was willing to comp his price (he had received nothing ), Blossoms had gotten a down payment of $ 809.08 but was willing to comp the remainder owning. The Cake ladies needed funds in order to do the cake and at this time, Tamuel was unable to contact the officiant, Limos or a photographer.
Mom decided to cancel the wine for the tables and the tent (since they would be nice but were things we could cut due to having to pay for them again) Tamuel said she would bring in the wine for our wedding, as she knew someone that would comp that for us.
At that point, it was just a waiting game to find out if we could pull this off
July 30th. - My parents had discussed the situation over night and contacted Tamuel to inform her that the wedding needed to be just right, if it cost additional fund some how they would come up with it. and
July 31st. We met for the Rehearsal at Legends where Tamuel informed us that the officiant (Rev Tim) would be there for the wedding. The Limo, and Photographer had all been contacted and would be there on the 1st.
Dad didn't want people comping the service….. they needed to be paid something …..so the D.J. (A Premier Entertainment DJ Services) got paid $ 600.00 (he is suppose to be $1250.00) The flowers (Blossoms) got paid the remainder owing of $450.00, the Cake (Frosting on the Cake) was paid $180.00 (it was suppose to be $ 262.50), the limos (Crowne Limo)were paid $260.00 ( but this was returned to me as a refund…so I am unsure if they just wouldn’t take it or if they had been actually paid in advance), the officient (Rev. Tim) was not given anything ( again I am not sure if he got his money in advance or wouldn’t take anything) and the Photographer was only given $350.00 (that is only charging us for the 3 extra hours that we wanted to book him for, I don’t know what his reg. wedding package is valued at but I got over 400 pictures and and he was there for 6 hours. We also had to repay for linens which had been in the original contract, they cost us $195.00
Tamuel and Val (Remembering When) were also not paid for all there help, and they just won’t accept any money. We have tried over and over again to give them money for pulling it all off for us. They did an amazing job. My wedding was Beautiful and it was because of them.
We ended up with the wine on the tables that Tamuel got donated and our tent/canopy was there which we assume was also donated with the help of Tamuel.
She even managed to get our butterflies for the release, which we thought, had been lost.
August 1, 2008 – I was married. Tamuel and Val pulled it off in less than a week.
During this whole process from the April, I have been telling my mom over and over again I hate it I hate planning a wedding I hate every minute of it. and everything just got worse and worse but Tamuel and Val stepped in and I tell you they certainly changed my mind in less then the week. I know that if I had them the whole time….I would have been the happiest bride ever!!
After the wedding was all said and done, we called the BBB and told them the problem we were told that Michele had called on July 2nd to report that she filed bankruptcy and was closing he doors and not taking any more complaints. So if that it the case why was she still talking to me and my mom about money on the 16th and 19th.
August 18, 2008 - I got a phone call for The D.J asking why my mom was looking for a refund I explained to her that she was not and that was just wanted to give everyone a fair price. She told me my wedding planner had emailed on Friday asking for it to be sent to her and she would send it out to us. I called Tamuel to question her about it, when she called me back she explained that it was not her that sent the email when she called the D.J. to question about it they realized it was Michele that sent that email so she called all my vendors to make sure no one else got that email and that no one sent out the money.
I have done everything I can I have Phoned the Orlando Sentinel, Called channel 6 and Channel 9 News I have called Opera and Dr. Phil I have also called the Orange County Sheriff’s office and the Attorney General and no one seems to want to help. There are reports on [redacted]s.com there are chats and supports on weddingmapper.com and on youandyourwedding.com there is over 50 brides with the same kind of stories some are even worse then mine. Some didn't have a wedding cause they could not pay for it. I have an e-mail from another Bride to Be who actually met with Michele on July 26th (24 days after she went out of business). This bride was told that Michele would meet her at her hotel since her office was being renovated. They met and the Bride gave her the last payment of $8000 (she paid her a total of $24, 000). She found out in August that Michele / Orlando Weddings had gone out of business.
For me and my family it is not about the money anymore it is just about simply getting the word out and getting this woman out of business. To top it off she is still working as a wedding coordinator and still taking peoples money she started another business called Visionary weddings under a fictisous name with her husbands company. We have got the word out so that one didn't really go anywhere but it is just a matter of time before another one pops up.
Thank You for your time