Brides left in lurch, thousands of dollars lost as Madera County wedding venue closes

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A popular Madera County wedding venue says it's gone under because of coronavirus, and it can't pay everyone back so a lot of brides are left in the lurch.

"They were very nice and very professional so this coming from them is very shocking," said bride-to-be Selaina York.

Branch and Vine's big barn and rustic setting made it a popular choice for couples planning weddings on a budget.

"When we got engaged two years ago, I was like 'We are getting married at the Branch and Vine,'" said bride-to-be Denia Rivera.

"I had no doubt in my mind that was where I wanted to get married," said bride-to-be Priscilla Gomez.

The pandemic started postponing weddings in March and this month, the venue announced its permanent closure, leaving dozens of families scrambling to come up with new plans for their dream days.

"It hurts me," said Tricia Thomas, who is planning her sister's wedding. "I just, I'm so sad for all you girls."

Action News talked to five brides who said things only got worse when they found out the venue wouldn't return the money they've already paid - hundreds or thousands of dollars gone.

Branch and Vine owner Tiffany Wylie told us they understand how frustrating this is for the couples.

She says they didn't cause the problem, but they've gone above and beyond to find solutions.

She says they don't have the money to pay everybody back in full, but they're even selling assets to offer most couples half their money back.

And as another option, they got the Kings River Winery to honor any deposits.

"It's very disappointing that this is the route they're taking and that they're saying they're giving us options, but I don't feel that's actually an option at all," Gomez said.

"Neither is those options were given us really an option," said York.

Brides say the winery charges about three times as much as Branch and Vine did, so they can't make up the difference.

They're now stuck with what seem like impossible decisions.

"I have to find a venue and get it to work," said bride-to-be Erika Merino.

"At this point, I think we are just going to be canceling it because it's too stressful to deal with," said Gomez.

Attorneys tell us the business absolutely owes its customers every penny it took from them.

The brides are now considering their legal options along with their bridal options.
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