3OYS: Brides get money returned from wedding venue

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

CAVE CREEK, Ariz.-- Some Valley brides say they're facing a dilemma. They paid big bucks to get married at a certain location. But now, they're finding out that they can't have their weddings there at all. One of those brides contacted 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper for help.

Shelly Ullrich and her boyfriend are getting married soon. One of the biggest parts of planning their wedding has been finding the perfect place to have it.

Ullrich told 3 On Your Side that she thought she found that perfect place, called Mystic Ranch, in Cave Creek.

So, she handed over more than $2,400 to Mystic Ranch as a down payment. Ullrich even sent out invitations printed up with location information about the venue. However, after the invitations went out and Ullrich had handed over the money, she found out she couldn’t have her wedding there after all.

"I just burst into tears,” she said. “I just started crying because it had taken us so long to get a venue that we both agreed upon. We just felt that we just felt this was where we were going to get married."

Ullrich had to scramble to find a new place to get married, but it was difficult because she was out of the $2,400 she paid for Mystic Ranch.

“It's supposed to be the happiest time of my life, and she's kind of turned it into a nightmare,” Ullrich said.

3 On Your Side discovered Mystic Ranch is run by a woman named Sheri Roese. Roese told 3 On Your Side that the venue is actually her personal residence.

With a majestic atmosphere and beautiful scenery, she thought her property could be an ideal place for weddings. However, as she started taking deposits and reserving dates, Roese told 3 On Your Side that she may have been way over her head by getting into the the wedding industry.

"It wasn't a scam,” Roese said. “It was me having no background in the industry.”

Roese said the sticking point was an ongoing battle she had with the county regarding weddings on her property. She told 3 On Your Side that she tried doing things right and by the book, but in the end, she was unable to get the proper permits to satisfy the county.

“I did hire a wedding planner because I didn't know anything about the business,” Roese said.”I've been trying to do things right, but in the end, it's not zoned correctly. That's where I got into some issues.”

Roese apologized for the confusion, saying she's already returned thousands of dollars to brides. However, she acknowledged that there have been a few that she’s missed. In fact, during 3 On Your Side's visit, she was returning $4,600 to one man who had secured a wedding date.

And just hours after 3 On Your Side got involved, Roese contacted Ullrich and paid her back around $2,400 in cash.

Ullrich said she appreciated 3 On Your Side getting to the bottom of the issue and getting her money back.

"I am so relieved; I’m so excited,” Ullrich told 3 On Your Side. “I get to finish planning the wedding of my dreams and marry my best friend. Because of you guys I can now do that!"

Roese says she always intended to refund money to all the brides.

She went on to say she'll just have to keep the enjoyment of her outdoor paradise to herself and her family.  She will no longer be renting out her property.