Local brides said they're out thousands of dollars with no place to get married. Their venue of choice, the Arista Ballroom on Southeast Hawthorne, suddenly closed this week citing an issue with the city's fire code.
But a handful of brides said the ballroom operators still have their deposits and don't plan on repaying them.
"No money, no wedding," said Niki Stephan who plans to marry in March.
She and her fiancé handed over $3,808 in full for the venue, DJ and food, after picking the Arista as their wedding day location last March.
They paid upfront for a slight discount and the contract does mention a "non-refundable deposit," but Stephan never could have imagined the email she received from the operators, Eric and Ronda Barton, on Tuesday.
It reads in part, "We are extremely sorry to inform you that after six and a half years of operating, the ARISTA Ballroom is closed due to the city of Portland changing the fire occupancy and not allowing any more events on the second and third floors."
The email goes on to say, "Deposit refunds are not available as this action from the city forces us completely out of business."
When Stephan asked the operators what happened to her money, she was told, "they spent it. They said they had reinvested it."
A series of emails and phone calls to both the ballroom and city of Portland have left her with few answers and only more confusion.
"It doesn't make sense to me," Stephan said. "It's really hard to decipher all of that in addition to finding a venue and finding money that we don't have really hard."
She and her fiancé had spent nearly a year saving up for their wedding day - a day now in jeopardy.
"The right thing to me is just to return the money, even if you have to set up a payment plan," she said.
Stephan has already sent out her save-the-dates, but now must not only scramble to find new venue, but also worries her money may be gone.
"Our wedding day means the rest of our future," Stephan said. "Now my wedding day just means disappointment, but I'm trying to stay optimistic."
Stephan is not the only bride in a bind. There are other couples who have also lost their deposits.
Fox 12 left multiple messages and emails for the Arista Operators, Eric and Ronda Barton, but they did not return our calls as of deadline.
Fox 12 also contacted the Portland Fire Bureau to learn more about the code issue, but that call hasn't been returned either.
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