People & Places

New Bohemia wedding venue falls through, couples seek refunds

Couples left in the lurch

(from left) Elli Wieneke of Ely and Karen Liechty of Palo discuss booking their wedding receptions with the yet to open 1202 Venue and Bar in Cedar Rapids. Both say they have been unable to get their money back when the facility was not available for their respective receptions. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
(from left) Elli Wieneke of Ely and Karen Liechty of Palo discuss booking their wedding receptions with the yet to open 1202 Venue and Bar in Cedar Rapids. Both say they have been unable to get their money back when the facility was not available for their respective receptions. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — Elli Wieneke is far from a Bridezilla, but when she learned two month before her July wedding the reception site wasn’t going to be available and the vendor didn’t immediately return her deposit, she was indignant.

“Our budgets were obviously tight to begin with which is why we booked this ‘great deal’ of a venue and now we have even less money to work with,” the 32-year-old middle school gym teacher said. “What was supposed to be one of the best days of our lives, suddenly turned into a nightmare.”

Wieneke and her fiance, Dan Netolicky, 43, both of Ely, are one of at least four couples who booked their wedding receptions for a venue on the upper level of 1202 Third St. SE, above Brewhemia, in the New Bohemia district.

The couples signed contracts and put down deposits on what Jordan Farley of Manifest Events LLC described as the 1202 Venue & Bar, a live music venue still under construction, the couples said.

Karen Liechty, 39, of Palo, saw the 1202 site in October and put down $1,375 to hold her wedding date of November 25 — more than a year in advance. In February, Farley contacted Liechty again to see if she and her fiance, Josh Merta, were interested in a promotion to pay another $2,500 that Manifest Events would match for alcohol for the day of the wedding.

“We decided that sounded like a great deal since we were paying ourselves for the cash bar at the wedding,” Liechty said.

Wieneke paid $1,500 — the full cost for her event — on Dec. 23. She proceeded to book a caterer, photographer and videographer and even ordered invitations.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Additional Read: Protecting your wedding investment

Farley told Wieneke last month the site wouldn’t be ready for their weddings.

“Unfortunately one partner/investor above us ... has caused us to basically miss our opening timeline and has caused us to rethink your event timeline,” Farley wrote in an email. Farley offered to issue a termination agreement, but when Wieneke asked for a refund, he stopped returning her calls, she said.

“My invitations were delivered to me on the same exact date that Jordan sent me the email about it not being done,” Wieneke said. “I had 350 invitations printed with 1202 Venue on them listed as my reception site. My fiance wouldn’t even let me open them because I would just get more upset.”

Wieneke laughs as she tells this story, describing how she and a bridesmaid burned the bulk of the faulty invites in her backyard firepit.

Wieneke’s mom didn’t take the news well either. She called Farley and got him to tell her the names and phone numbers of other couples who had booked 1202. That’s how Wieneke found Liechty and Joe Alger, 28, of Mount Vernon, who got married May 20 to Sara Alger, 28.

The Algers had to scramble to find a new reception site, but A Touch of Class Wedding and Banquet Center had an opening. Likewise, Wieneke and Netolicky told their story to DoubleTree by Hilton and the downtown hotel gave them a deal so they could rent the space for their July 8 wedding. Liechty’s and Merta’s reception will be at Hunters Ridge Lodge.

The couples all are considering filing small claims cases against Farley to get back their deposits.

Farley hasn’t responded to messages left on his phone. He did tell KCRG-TV9 news the allegations are false.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“I do want to let you know you did end up miss-reporting on a story last night,” said Farley in a message last weekend. “There were actually four or five lies straight up lies which is defamation and libel if you guys have heard about it.”

Pivot Real Estate, which owns 1202 Third St. SE, said Manifest Events no longer is renting the space.

Additional Read: Protecting your wedding investment

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.