7 On Your Side helps couple get wedding venue deposit back


This couple was planning a beautiful wedding in an idyllic setting. They signed a contract and paid a non-refundable deposit. Then they found out there were conditions, which put the cost out of their reach. And the result has changed their lives.

If things had gone right, Shery Cesalek and Sean Johnston would be married right now. Instead, Shery's living at her parents' home in Fairfield; Sean at his.

"Our original date was October fifth," she said.

That would be last Oct. 5. The couple was scheduled to be married at the Vezer Family Vineyard in Fairfield. It's a place Shery had discovered 10 months earlier.

"It was really pretty," she said. "I was just like, oh my gosh this is it. This is where I want to get married."

For $3,000 they could hold their wedding and reception here in the garden. They could use the banquet facilities and invite up to 70 guests.

"I said ok we're gonna do it and you know, here we go," Shery said.

The vineyard manager gave them a contract, they signed the deal, and put down a 50 percent deposit. Shery made plans for flowers, dresses, invitations. Then four months later, the big blow.

Shery told vineyard manager Chris Livadas she was still looking for a caterer. He shocked her with his reply.

"He says 'oh whoa whoa whoa you know you can't use any other caterer,'" she said.

Livadas said she must use the vineyard's exclusive caterer, located next door. But Shery said it was too expensive. She was given an estimate of $4,000, way over her budget, and no one had told her she had only one choice.

"Is it in the contract? Because I don't remember reading that," Shery said.

She read each clause and found no mention that she must use a particular company. She contacted the vineyard manager again.

"He didn't respond so I sent him a text message," Shery said.

Shery wrote him an email saying they could not afford the caterer so they would have to cancel the wedding and they wanted a refund of that deposit.

"He never responded," she said. "You know, he never wanted to talk about it."

After weeks of no results she contacted 7 On Your Side. We checked the contract. It does say "no food or beverage may be brought in except as approved by the owner."

Shery admits she didn't notice that. However it doesn't say anything about an exclusive caterer. We contacted Livadas, the vineyard manager.

In a statement he told us, "Normally the catering, food, and wine, are part of the discussion when a wedding customer commits to the venue, but I don't recall discussing the catering at the time she signed the contract."

As for the refund request he said, "I told her we did not want her to be unhappy and committed to getting her a refund. The refund request fell through the cracks. I have apologized several times for the delay."

He went to say, "I got a call from KGO and almost immediately processed a refund to them. There was never any intent to keep their deposit. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience the delayed refund may have caused."

"I was just like relieved I was so happy," Shery said.

So the couple has put their married lives on hold, but they haven't given up. They got their $1,500 back and Shery and Sean plan to get married this coming June in another lovely garden -- this one in her grandmother's backyard.

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