BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A Washington woman was supposed to get married here in her hometown of Bakersfield. However, when she showed up at a vacant building, she realized that her big day may not happen the way she had hoped. That’s because Metro Galleries shut down due to the pandemic.
Laporsha Singh, a soon-to-be bride says, “I started shaking. I didn’t see a sign anymore. I saw the door is cracked. There’s nothing that even shows that someone’s even been here for a while. So I was very distraught. I just immediately started crying.”
Singh says the unexpected happened just days leading up to her wedding day. She says she and her fiancé booked and prepaid about $1,000 for their wedding venue at Metro Galleries in Downtown Bakersfield in April 2020. She was hoping to get married by last October, but that original date fell through due to issues surrounding the pandemic.
“I let Don know we didn’t want to cut our guest list in half. Can I change my date? He was offering and willing to. Then we ended up choosing the date for June 25th of this year.”
Don Martin was the owner of Metro Galleries for nearly 18 years, a staple in Downtown Bakersfield. And a place Singh booked events in previous years.
“I trusted him. I thought I was in good hands. I really didn’t have any worries about it.”
But Singh says between that time and now, she’s been directed to three different event coordinators. She also admits she never signed a contract with Martin.
“You're in good hands he reassured me. He told me anything I needed we’d get it handled we’d get it covered. So not hearing from him within the last two months, for sure gave me the feeling that something was wrong.”
Martin tells 23ABC that he stopped booking events last year, sending an email to his clients this past April. In the email, he says in part, “we have made the very difficult decision to close Metro. We simply see no way to continue as the business is bankrupt and Don depleted his savings by paying staff and trying to keep the doors open.”
But Singh says she never received that letter. She drove down a few weeks ago from where she currently lives in Washington. She says she continued to reach out to Martin and did not receive any replies. And it wasn’t until Tuesday that she arrived at the empty building.
Singh says tonight she did hear from Martin, who apologized to her.
Now even though the couple didn't have a contract with Metro we're taking an in-depth look at the legalities of contracts when you are looking for a venue.
In most cases, venues and clients sign a contract that may or may not have a "force majeure" clause written into it.
"Force Majeure" is a term relating to unforeseeable circumstances preventing someone from fulfilling a contract.
Depending on the type of contract and the exact terms either the venue or the client is protected. In some cases, the clause is used to get both parties out of the contract if something unforeseen arises like a global pandemic in this case.
However, this doesn't always guarantee people their deposits back from a venue if an event gets canceled. Depending on how much a deposit is it might not be worth pursuing a refund.
Often times legal fees are more than the value of the deposit.