THE COLONY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A wedding company is facing a class action lawsuit after asserting it would not reschedule events set for the summer.
Brianna Connaughton and Rex Simmons filed the lawsuit after they were unable to secure a $12,000 refund from Walters Wedding Estates, which declined to postpone their July 18 wedding to another day.
Now, the pair said they want to help other customers who may be in the same situation.
Walters Wedding Estates operates Chapel at Ana Villa in The Colony, where the Plano couple was planning to get married in front of 120 guests.
But the bride and groom said the pandemic has changed everything.
“I don’t want to risk the health of anyone, including my family,” Connaughton said.
Connaughton and Simmons said they never expected to navigate COVID-19 when they signed a contract with the vendor.
So they were frustrated to learn the company was still upholding the agreement, despite their concerns the gathering could jeopardize the health of their guests.
“It’s hard to believe someone will treat you that way in an unprecedented time,” Connaughton said.
The couple is not alone.
In a recent email to a bride at another venue, a representative said the company will not be issuing alternate dates or refunds for summer events.
Walters Wedding Estates runs 20 venues throughout the state.
“In other GREAT news, reports are showing that we are seeing a huge drop off in COVID cases in Texas, so that means we are on our way to knocking this pandemic thing out!” read the message, which was sent to the bride in late May.
Currently, North Texas is seeing an influx of COVID-19 cases.
But president Keith Walters said the company is ready to move forward with weddings scheduled for this month and beyond.
“Are you putting people at risk when you continue to schedule these weddings?” asked CBS 11 reporter Alanna Autler.
“We’re following all the health guidelines, so we don’t believe so,” Walters said. “If the governor or health department comes out with new guidelines, we will beef that up.”
Walters said he’s already rescheduled 500 events since March — a hit he claims could cost his company $5 million.
“I have to think about the bride that has a wedding booked in June 2021 to ensure we’re in business,” Walters said. “In all our contracts, we state we highly recommend you get wedding insurance. If they would have paid that, then they would have gotten a payment from the insurance company.”
Walters also said the company will need to enforce the “act of god” clause in the contracts in order to stay in business.
“It becomes a business issue if you refund too much, you’re going to have to lay off people to offset that,” he said, adding Walters Wedding Estates employs about 200 people.
Walters said he is confident he can seat every guest at the Simmons-Connaughton wedding while maintaining social distancing and operating the Chapel at a reduced capacity.
“We’re following all the CDC and government guidelines,” Walters said. “Cleaning, masks, everything we need to do to be safe.”
But the couple wonders even if the show can go on, should it?
“It’s so disappointing that they would take a young couple’s money, not be able to provide a service and not think they have to provide that money back to them,” Simmons said.
Walters said he is still reviewing the lawsuit but intends to “vigorously” defend his company.