One month ago, Noah’s Event Venue, a national chain, closed the doors to its Charlotte space suddenly, leaving countless couples without a venue.
In many cases, these couples had wedding dates just weeks or months away.
Noah’s had 42 locations in 25 states when it filed for bankruptcy last year, including its Charlotte space on Yorkmont Road not far from Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Despite the filing, Noah’s Charlotte location remained operational until February.
According to bankruptcy documents, the Utah-based company is $53 million in debt. An attorney for Noah’s has given interviews explaining that refunds are unlikely and that as many as 7,500 people may be affected by these closures.
Search the name Noah’s on Facebook and you’ll find several groups dedicated specifically to couples impacted by the sudden closing of the brand.
Sadonna Smith is one such bride. She and her fiancé were planning a wedding for May 1 at the venue. She says they paid $6,000 to secure their spot, only to get a call from one of their vendors about the closing. She says she hadn’t had any direct contact with Noah’s about the issue before the phone call.
When Smith learned she would have to find a new venue less than 90 days before her wedding, she says, “my heart went to my ankles.”
Before then, she says, “I was so proud of myself for having such a stress-free wedding planning process.”
Smith says she was also frustrated with herself, as she had heard that several other Noah’s locations had closed earlier in the year. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s probably a smaller town. This is Charlotte. This isn’t going to be a problem here.'”
Shortly after learning about the closing, Smith says she drove to Noah’s to try to get more information. There were still employees inside, though they were as clueless as she was. “I said, ‘What is going on?’ And bless their hearts they were like, ‘Ma’am, we know just as much as you do and we just lost our jobs.'”
Since then, Smith has received an email from Noah’s about the closing, which didn’t offer a clear answer on whether refunds would be available.
“It didn’t say specifically if you were getting your money back, but it didn’t say you weren’t,” she says.
The Agenda attained the email from Smith. In it, the venue says it has “has worked extremely hard to reorganize operations in order to continue hosting events, however negative publicity, along with the court order, has made it impossible to continue current operations.”
Noah’s had been open in Charlotte for 3 years and has hosted more than 10,000 events, according to the email, “including hundreds of couples who, with short notice, had lost their event date at other venues. We were always willing and happy to assist these couples and feel confident that your community of vendors will do likewise.”
When we tried to reach out to the venue, the phone number listed was out of service and an email went unreturned.
Nazneen Ahmed, a communications and policy advisor with the North Carolina Department of Justice, tells the Agenda that they’ve received six complaints about Noah’s so far.
“Unfortunately, due to the bankruptcy automatic stay, the current stage of the bankruptcy proceeding, and the fact that the bankruptcy trustee represented that the business is effectively over, we are very limited in what we can attempt to do to resolve the complaint with the company. Our office has shared the complaints we received with the Utah Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office for review, as the matter involves a Utah company in Utah bankruptcy court,” Ahmed says.
To couples who have been affected, Ahmed advises filing a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office.
Smith and her fiancé, who’s an attorney, haven’t given up, though. They’ve begun disputing each monthly charge from the venue with their credit card company in hopes of getting their $6,000 back. So far, they’ve gotten $1,000 back.
The couple has managed to find an alternative wedding venue without having to move their May 1 date. Smith says it helps that they wanted to get married on a Friday.
Though they’ve managed to salvage their wedding, the unknown financial ramifications of Noah’s sudden closing continues to impact the couple. They had intended to take a honeymoon, but after losing the Noah’s deposit and having to start over, that won’t be financially possible.
“Of course we’re disappointed, and it was very stressful. It’s taken us some time,” Smith says, trying to remain optimistic. “But we just want people to come celebrate with us and be happy with us.”