With seven weeks before the big day, Rosanna and Austin Markman had all their wedding plans set. The invitations were printed. The gown was purchased. The food was selected. The venue was booked.
Then Rosanna turned on the news and saw that their venue, the luxurious Griffin Mansions in the Clark County desert, was closed after health officials discovered the business had been operating for years without permits.
“Austin and I went to a bar that night and had a few drinks,” Rosanna said. “We didn’t even talk. We just sat there in shock.”
Rosanna—whose brother-in-law works for Vegas Seven’s parent company, WENDOH Media—was one of more than 50 brides from 12 different states who saw their matrimonial plans torpedoed when Griffin Mansions closed its doors and refused to refund their money, according to Today News. Health officials shut down the mansion in May 2012 after 60 wedding guests became ill from norovirus, says a Southern Nevada Health District report released Jan. 30. The story attracted national media attention after a health district investigation revealed that the business had none of the correct permits to host weddings.
“They never told us anything,” Rosanna told Vegas Seven. Griffin Mansions even sent the couple an email confirming all the wedding’s details a week before news of the closure hit.
Unlike the Markmans, who paid with a credit card and were able to get most of their money back, many couples did not get a refund. Today News reported that Griffin Mansions owners Anthony Lopez and Portia Latawiec spent the money from their business account on shopping sprees at Victoria’s Secret, Barney’s and Louis Vuitton, as well as spa and fertility treatments. They filed for bankruptcy in July 2012, according to KSNV.
Rosanna never suspected the business of any wrongdoing. When planning out the ceremony, the staff was helpful and all the online reviews raved about the venue, she said.
The Markmans were luckier than most of the other couples, some of whom only had days to find a new location. As part of their $20,000 package, Griffin Mansions provided the couple with all the catering, entertainment and photography. Rosanna even bought her dress in their boutique.
When the bad news hit, they had to start at square one.
“I had a few breakdowns,” Rosanna said.
Dragon Ridge Country Club in Henderson was able to squeeze their ceremony in on the same day planned. Many other vendors gave the couple a discount due to the circumstances.
“It was almost a blessing in disguise,” Rosanna said.
The couple was married on Aug. 25, 2012.
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