Wedding Review, Bogus or Legit? Floods & High Hills

An essential part of my daily duties as a wedding nerd is viewing the incredible weddings that happened over the weekend. I love seeing what the couples chose, reading about the unexpected issues that came up and how there were resolved. It’s a glorious wedding hangover and I love it. As I am looking up weddings I often come across reviews, some seem fair and some seem biased and completely unfair. The problem with the review system is that there is little to no serious mediation or verification of reviews submitted and the wedding industry business can suffer serious damage by an unfair review. The worst part is the fact that millions of wedding industry businesses pay huge fees to have listings on these sites and have little protection or advocacy against unfair reviews. Some reviews are removed when disputed but many are not. I came across this wedding venue review and thought I would share it and draw attention to the fact vs the feelings in the review. Many times its the feelings in the review that are unfair, unreasonable and should be removed. Please check out the review below and let me know if you think this review is fair and reasonable or if you think this review should have been removed?

I am replacing the name of the venue with “CENSORED”, for those of you who get raving mad when I don’t use the names, I invite you to sign up for VAWENetwork.com membership so we can afford to increase our frivolous lawsuits budget for the year and offer more information in our blogs and posts. Until then, it’s not getting listed here. (ps, I am not correcting the type-o’s in the review below). 

Friend of bride gives one out of five stars and writes:

“If i could rate this place a zero, I would. CENSORED is the worst venue for a wedding. Granted, I was not the bride, I was however a guest. As soon as we pulled up to their muddy parking spot, that’s when the crappiness began. First off, it had rained ALL week, in fact CENSORED Road, the road CENSORED is located on was flooded, so knowing that you would think they would have prepared better for the guests that were arriving. The parking lot was MUD-FILLED and guests were expected to walk from the muddy parking lot in their nice shoes to the barn without a walkway. Most ladies were wearing heels so of course it was hard to walk because our heels sunk into the mud. It would not have been a thoughtful gesture for the owners of CENSORED to put in a makeshift walkway so that the guests didn’t have to traipse mud everywhere!! Secondly, it got dark very early and guests were expected to walk outside in the pitch black back to and from the muddy parking lot, and also to the designated smoker’s area. Have they not heard of lights? Even solar lights that line the paths and driveway would have been a cost-effective method. Considering the outrageous amount they charge to rent the place, i know they could afford to do that. Someone could have a terrible accident not being able to see where they were going. Thirdly, I understand that the theme of the barn is supposed to be rustic, which is all well and good, but when the barn doors are open it leaves the bottom sliding rail exposed and a few people tripped over it that night, myself included. How is this supposed to be accessible to wheelchairs?
Allbeit, i felt bad for the bride and groom because i know they weren’t expecting all these discrepancies.
If you are thinking of renting out this place, save yourself some time and look elsewhere. Save your well-earned money and go find a location that will go above and beyond to make your day special. I will NEVER, EVER recommend CENSORED to anyone. In a nutshell – THEY SUCK!”

Lets pick this apart starting with:

  1. I was not the bride”. The couple picked this location, toured the venue, reviewed the contract and decided this was the place to have their wedding. That may have been due to the cost of the venue fitting the budget, the location fitting their needs or they fell in love with the features of the venue. What ever the reason, the couple picked the venue and it seems unreasonable for the guests to complain about the venue attributes when the couple decided that was good enough for them and all their guests. If they would have a picked a banquet space instead the mud may not have been a factor but they wanted this barn venue and then invited all her guests and family here, knowing exactly what the parking was like in advance. I am going to make an assumption that they also knew exactly what happens when it rains on a grassy parking area. The couple could have notified their guests, maybe they did or maybe they assumed they would be prepared for muddy conditions when the weeks worth of flooding rain was all over the news – and could be seen when you look out the window (ok, maybe snarky, but come on, it rained for a week and flooded the area!!) 
  2.  “First off, it had rained ALL week, in fact CENSORED Road, the road CENSORED is located on was flooded” –  If mother nature is wrecking the roads and dumping water everywhere, this is not something a venue owner can easily counter. I have been to this venue many times and there is a paved drive way about 3 to 5 feet from where everyone parks in the grass. You may still get muddy exiting a vehicle but isn’t this the responsibility of the guest to make sure they are wearing proper foot wear. This was a flood not a light sprinkle. Accommodations may have to be made by guests, like wearing rain boots until you are in the venue. I have toured over 450 wedding venues in the past 5 years, at least 45% have grass parking, hundreds of local venues dealt with flooding that weekend and mud was a factor for everyone. In this case the “makeshift” walkway request is odd since I know the paved driveway is right there next to the parking. 
  3. “it got dark very early and guests were expected to walk outside in the pitch black back to and from the muddy parking lot, and also to the designated smoker’s area. Have they not heard of lights?” This is a safety issue, however I have been to this venue and there was sufficient lighting when I was there. I did confirm with a venue rep and other vendors who have recently visited this venue and they confirmed that there is sufficient lighting. That is not to say it wasn’t working due to flooding, I have no way to confirm whether or not this lighting worked that day.
  4. Even solar lights that line the paths and driveway would have been a cost-effective method. Considering the outrageous amount they charge to rent the place, i know they could afford to do that.” Many people make wild assumptions about the wedding industry and what is an appropriate fee versus what is excessive. Once again we go back to the couple choosing this venue, agreeing to the fee and passing up other wedding venues to select this one. Most people assume a wedding venue simply opens up the doors and that is the extent of the effort on their part. Venues have tables, chairs, lawn care – this can cost $500 a week depending on how many acres must be maintained, mortgage, lighting, cooling/heating, safety requirements, permits/lic., bug spraying service, insurance, staff, trash, cleaning, etc… The guest who wrote this bad review should remove this part, there is no way for her to verify what is or is not cost effective for the venue or that the fee was so excessive because the couple agreed on the fee. 
  5. Thirdly, I understand that the theme of the barn is supposed to be rustic, which is all well and good, but when the barn doors are open it leaves the bottom sliding rail exposed and a few people tripped over it that night, myself included. How is this supposed to be accessible to wheelchairs?” Again, this is a safety issue if correct. I have been to this venue and do not recall this issue with the door. I can vouch for the fact that they have a ramp for handicap access. This barn was built about 2 years ago requiring architecture, permits, zoning and county approval. The ramp for handicap access as well as the structure was approved by all the required county zoning and permits. So, if there is a rail that causes tripping, the owners will have to address that but it seems unlikely and I base that on the fact that I have been here and never had this issue and the new construction requirements from the county would not approve any structure that has safety violations. Though this could be a recently added feature, I was unable to verify either way. 
  6. “i felt bad for the bride and groom because i know they weren’t expecting all these discrepancies. If you are thinking of renting out this place, save yourself some time and look elsewhere. Save your well-earned money and go find a location that will go above and beyond to make your day special.” In fairness a venue earns their income by hosting weddings at their location. That is well earned income, when they are given a bad review it must be justified, it must be honest and based on facts not assumptions or feelings. Bad reviews reduce the venues ability to book clients reducing their hard earned income. If one should protect the couples hard earned income, one should also value the ability for the venue to have fair access to ensure their hard earned income continues. Feeling bad for the bride and groom in this case is backwards, the bride and groom selected the venue. If the venue is unsafe or poorly constructed the couple would be aware of this when they felt it was good enough for their guests and booked it. As for the comment about finding a venue that will go above and beyond. If a venue provides everything they have a contracted obligation to provide then the service has been fulfilled and there should be no complaints or bad reviews. A business should not get a bad revue because they didn’t provide extra. We love hearing about venues that over deliver, or do more than expected but is it fair to give a bad review to a venue that provided adequate service? One might say the venue went above and beyond by fulfilling the contract at all. I remember this weekend very well because the venue two miles up the road from this venue actually had to cancel a wedding for the same weekend because the venue was flooded. That couple had to find a venue on the Friday before their Saturday wedding. Luckily there were hotel venues available but many couples around the region were scrambling to find solutions to make sure they could keep their wedding date and make accommodations for all the flooding.

In this case where there was so much flooding on the days leading up to the wedding, what should be done by the venue and by the couples? Is this review fair or unfair, please share your feedback!