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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Julie Bonney was ready to walk down the aisle, when her wedding planner broke the news. “Don’t panic, but your DJ’s not here,” Bonney remembers her saying. “My friend’s step-dad actually got his iPhone and hooked it up to the speakers and was playing music so no one would realize I didn’t have music,” she said.
Bonney had booked Bryan Stephens, from Firehouse DJ Services.
Three days earlier, he texted her, “My grandmother passed,” a claim Stephens later told CBS wasn’t true.
He assured her he had a back-up DJ ready to take his place.
A replacement did eventually show, but according to Bonney — had no clue what to do.
“He would call me over the loudspeaker… and be like ‘Can the bride come up here?’ He didn’t know my name,” she said.
Firehouse DJ boasted five star reviews until this year, when brides began filling wedding websites with warnings.
Dozens of stories posted online over the last two months offer similar accounts.
After Stephens collected payments for DJ Services, brides complaint phone calls, text messages, and e-mails went unreturned for weeks. One wrote on her wedding day, “he never showed up,” another that he cancelled five days before.
Many more say a stranger showed up to DJ the wedding, claiming he was contracted by Stephens at the last minute to cover the show.
CBS11 spoke to “Ken” a DJ Stephens reportedly hired to work Bonney’s wedding. He then sub-contracted it to a third DJ. Ken claimed he had recently performed several weddings for Stephens. He claimed he arrived to find families surprised to see him and angry he didn’t have a photo-booth or other extras Stephens had promised them.
“More and more events were getting missed, we were hearing he wasn’t following up with clients,” said Rod Baker, a DJ with DFW Parties.
Baker has no connection to Stephens but came to the rescue of two couples left scrambling for a last minute replacement.
“They were panicking. They were really freaking out,” he said.
Baker claims other industry professionals have pitched in too, taking jobs with little notice or cutting prices.
On an industry website, wedding planners and vendors swap stories of “Firehouse disasters”.
Stephens declined an interview, but told CBS11 on the phone he tried expanding his business and got in “over our head.”
He said he’s now closing up shop, only completing jobs he’s already booked.
Minutes after speaking to CBS11, his website was no longer online.
Stephens said he is offering refunds to upset brides.
Bonney, however, showed CBS11 a text message exchange, where he appears to have written her, “I don’t believe refunding your money will fix what happened.”
“It’d make me feel a lot better!” she said.
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