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Re: “Venusian Gardens

I'll start by saying that Eric Ehlenberger, the venue's owner, refunded my husband and me our entire deposit when we decided to change wedding venues after several frustrating months of dealing with Venusian Gardens and a laundry list of red flags that we finally heeded (I'll get to those in a minute). This is to his credit - Eric strikes me as an honest person, and when we met with him to discuss our many concerns, he was willing to do the right thing and give us our money back.

Unfortunately, Eric doesn't run Venusian Gardens - his wife Indra does, and she is rude, flakey, unreliable, and alarmingly unprofessional. My husband and I booked VG a year before our April wedding. It is a beautiful space, and our initial tour and meeting with the venue's manager at the time, Ify, went well. However, a few months later, when I began trying to contact Ify to discuss logistics, I had a hard time getting ahold of her via email. On average, she only ever answered 1 out of 3 emails, and even then only after several days. However, because she usually returned my phone calls, I tried not to worry about it.

Then, maybe 4 months before our wedding, after attempting to contact Ify for several days, she sent me a text message telling me that she no longer worked at Venusian Gardens. She didn't have the name of the new manager. She told me I should call Indra, the owner. After several unanswered calls and emails to Indra, the new manager, Kelly, finally got back to me. Kelly was very nice, but she had no idea who I was and had never seen the contract I'd signed with VG. Clearly, no one at VG had bothered to make sure there was a smooth transition from one manager to the next.

Immediately after that, Kelly went MIA and stopped answering phone calls, emails, and texts. After about a week, when I'd begun to panic, she called me and claimed she'd never received any of my messages. Later that weekend, she texted me to say that she no longer handled VG business, and that I should contact Indra.

At that point, my husband and I were about a month from our wedding. I called the VG office, not expecting anyone to pick up (because my calls almost always went unanswered), but a man named William answered the phone. He told me he was Indra's personal assistant, and that he would be helping me from here on out. And for a while, William was great! He was helpful, responsive, and professional, and he even agreed to meet my husband at the venue on a Wednesday afternoon 3 weeks before the wedding to discuss the floor plan and to show our photographer the space.

The day of that meeting, William called my husband and very apologetically told him that something had come up and that he had to cancel. At that point, Indra took the phone from William and berated my husband for "bothering" her personal assistant. Indra told him that he shouldn't be scheduling meetings without me present, and that they could figure out the floor plan the morning of the wedding because "it's NOT that complicated!" Then she hung up on my husband.

Later that day, when I called Indra to follow up, she claimed that she hadn't spoken to my husband. When I pressed her, she told me that she was very busy and couldn't keep track of everyone she talked to during the day.

My husband and I agreed with William that we would meet on a Saturday 2 weeks before the wedding to figure out the floor plan. The morning of the meeting, I received a call from Indra, who told me that she'd fired William and that she would be handling my wedding. She also informed me that my vendors couldn't arrive at the venue before 5 unless I paid her an extra $1000. William had assured me repeatedly - and in writing - that they could be there at 3:30 for no extra fee. When I relayed this to her, she told me I could take her to court.

Despite our misgivings, we did end up going through with the meeting later that day. However, Eric met us at the venue instead of Indra, which turned out to be a blessing. Eric was honest with us: he told us that his wife was unstable, and though he agreed to manage our wedding in her stead (at that point we wanted Indra as far away from our wedding as possible) he also said he couldn't control her and couldn't guarantee that she wouldn't show up unannounced. At that point, my husband and I realized that we simply couldn't trust VG to follow through on their contractual obligations and we decided to try to find a new venue. Luckily, a great place was available on our date, and we booked it that same weekend.

As I mentioned before, Eric gave us a full refund. Venusian Gardens really is a beautiful space, but Eric needs to hire a professional to run it. If he leaves the business to his wife, she is going to keep driving customers away with her bizarre, rude, and flagrantly unprofessional behavior.

Posted by Antonia Angress on 04/19/2017 at 10:58 AM

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