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When Riki Neice started planning her dream wedding in June of 2019, the thought of a pandemic never crossed anyone’s mind.

She and her fiancé live in Arroyo Grande and found what they thought would be the perfect venue for a large wedding. The ‘Home Sweet Home Cottage and Ranch‘ in Paso Robles was exactly what they were looking for. It was large enough for up to 200 guests, and an Airbnb right on site would provide necessary lodging.

Paid Nearly $16,000 to Secure Date

Neice was so sure this was the right spot that she paid a non-refundable deposit of $2,500. Then, in February of this year, she paid another $13,150 toward the cost of the wedding to be held on September 19th, 2020. In total, she and her fiancé, Cody Hosier, put down $15,650.

But, COVID-19 was the guest they never invited. Neice says the venue told her in July that due to the pandemic, attendance at gatherings like weddings was now limited to no more than 50 people under California’s emergency health orders.

Neice was unhappy, but says she understood the situation was out of everyone’s control. But the venue is now keeping her money — saying she signed and then breached her contract.

So, she’s filed a lawsuit and could wind up walking down a court aisle instead.

“Yes, I did know what I was signing, but they’re not offering what I signed for. Just morally, it doesn’t feel right.”Riki Neice, suing wedding venue

Unacceptable Alternatives

According to the complaint, the venue offered Neice another date for her wedding in 2021, or said she could keep her current date with no more than 50 guests. Neice said both alternatives were unacceptable to her.

She was pregnant and due in early August. She said that is why she had paid so much upfront money to hold the date in September. She wanted to have everything paid off for the wedding so she could focus on the birth of her new son.

“I had to come to terms the fact that I was going to be pregnant right up to the end of basically my wedding and I planned everything out ahead of time,” Neice tells GV Wire℠ by Zoom.

She says needed the venue because of the size of the wedding party, including a large number of family members she expected to attend. 

‘They Could Not Keep Their Promise’

The complaint further states, “Defendants (Home Sweet Home Cottage and Ranch owner Randall and Channon Clagg) advised Plaintiff that due to the COVID-19 restrictions they could not keep their promise; and, they would not be reimbursing her any of her $15,650.00 they were holding.”

Neice says that’s a considerable amount of money for her family, especially since she’s now raising a newborn along with a 6 year old son.

“I have not been served with any lawsuit.  What I do know is that Ms. Neice entered into a binding contract that had very clear terms regarding the use of our property and clear provisions regarding any payments she made.”Channon Clagg, Home Sweet Home Cottage & Ranch

“They offered us a situation where we can have the venue for four hours for pictures and the ceremony, but still no reception,” says Neice.  “And they weren’t going to refund anything, or next to nothing.”

Channon Clagg sent GV Wire℠ a statement by email. “I have not been served with any lawsuit.  What I do know is that Ms. Neice entered into a binding contract that had very clear terms regarding the use of our property and clear provisions regarding any payments she made.  Ms. Niece voluntarily canceled her wedding and chose to cancel our agreement and not reschedule the wedding despite being offered many alternative dates and other options.”

Neice’s attorney, Dennis Balsamo says the Claggs have been served. A court date is scheduled for December in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Read the complaint here.



Dream Wedding Lawsuit (Text)

The Contract

There wasn’t anything of natural disaster in there that I can recall off the top of my head,” explains Neice. She says she remembers her initial $2,500 deposit being non-refundable – which she’s OK with. She just wants the rest back.

“Yes, I did know what I was signing, but they’re not offering what I signed for,” says Neice. “Just morally, it doesn’t feel right.”

The complaint states, “Defendants advised Plaintiff that it was not their fault they could not honor their promise, rather it was due to the COVID-19; and as such, they would not be reimbursing her the $15,650.00 or any portion of it they were holding.”

Future Wedding Plans

“Backyard, under the tree,” says Neice of her new wedding plans. Since she no longer has the money she’d saved for her dream wedding, Neice says she’s just going to try to make do as best she can.

I didn’t picture this when it came to planning a wedding. It had the curve balls right from the beginning when I got pregnant and it just became stressful from there on out.”

Cody Hosier and Riki Neice (Dylan Kyle Photography)

35 Responses

    • TH

      Do the right thing, Give her a refund or this will doom your venue, People will think twice about using you for a WEDDING

      Reply
    • Deona

      What comes around goes around. I would say in this instance that if you want a good name and more people to do buisness with you? I would highly suggest you refund her money and do not make this about money. People like to hear awesome stories like this these days and I would bet that you would get more customers so that refunding Rikkis money would not hurt you. Please!!!! Listen to the voice of reason here. I hope you guys can settle on some kind of fair agreement that will make you both happy. The world needs this right now

      Reply
  1. Catherine Reimer

    Wow – the same thing has happened to myself and my daughter. I also will be filing suit. We should talk.

    Reply
  2. Jonathan

    Bride signed a legal contract and backed out. I support the venue! Many options were given and bride changed her mind. I’ve never seen a contract that you can change your mind and expect refund when alternative and reasonable efforts have been made by the Venue. Best of luck to Home Sweet Home. Our community supports you.

    Reply
      • Kristie Fowler

        I agree, with Covid no one could of ever expected this. I believe they should give her her money back minus the non-refundable deposit! Do the right thing!

    • Karen

      FYI, She did not back out! They could not fulfill the dream wedding that she had paid for and agreed to. She was okay with giving them the non-refundable deposit but they would not refund any of the other payments, despite everything falling through.

      Reply
  3. Jessica Kuipers

    They had a legal binding contract, period. They were given options that they chose not to take advantage of. Everyone is affected by this and all parties need to make compromises. The venue could have sold that date to another couple who were OK with having an event of 50 people or fewer, and they technically were willing to give them a second date with no penalty if they wanted. In no other situation would ignoring a contract be allowed. They were just upset that the scope of their wedding had to change. Well guess what, we are all having to pivot. Getting married is a right, but having a wedding is a luxury, and it’s not ok to assume all parties forego their contracts and reimburse all monies. They wouldn’t be able to survive. The money that is paid to any vendor goes towards the running of their operations. Upkeep, insurance, staffing, etc. So that money isn’t just sitting in a bank somewhere, its assisting in the running of the business. I fully support the venue and wish them luck in this difficult time.

    Reply
    • Wine Lover 1964

      I support the bride. She paid for a dream wedding where 151-200 guests would be able to attend. Everything was changed by COVID19, not the bride. Since HSHC was unable to fulfill what was promised COVID19 or not, still I think to be fair, the majority of the big deposit should be refunded. I understand that expenses were incurred by HSHC but in the end the bride received nothing. All she wanted was her wedding that she paid for in advance on the date she and her guests counted on or the majority of the deposit already paid refunded. Now instead of resolving this matter amicably, this will be looked at by everyone who considers using HSHC and they will lose the people’s trust. It’s only my opinion.

      Reply
    • Tracy Clark

      You cannot honestly tell me that if you had paid that much money so far in advance and then used Covid as an excuse to not fulfill the terms agreed upon originally that you would not ask for your money back!! That’s ridiculous!! Why should she have to downsize her wedding? If I paid almost 16,000 for my dream wedding and the venue could not accommodate the originally agreed upon terms I would ask for my money back too. The deposit is to secure that date for the agreed upon terms. They can’t accommodate 150-200 people then they default on their terms period!! She isn’t the first person that has had this happen too either and I hope the others fight just as hard!! As a business owner they should be ashamed of themselves! I am certain this is going to be really bad for their business. Give her her money back!

      Reply
  4. HSH 2021 Bride

    I actually had to postpone my own wedding date of 9/5/20 to 10/30/21, and as heartbreaking as it was, Kari gave us our last set of options because we couldn’t risk losing 2021 dates. What shocks me with this whole story above is that it feels more of a buyers remorse where they’d rather get married on top of a hill and back out of a full blown wedding because now a baby is coming. If you knew you were going to be bringing a month old newborn to your wedding as it is, why not post-pone til next year being you were already going to be carrying a child regardless? Enjoy the happiness that you prepared for and now you have more time to make sure your dress is how you want it, you’re not stressed last minute because an unexpected “curve ball” came out of nowhere and now you’re knocked up so close to the wedding, and you can wind down a little more knowing your baby is older and not literally newborn to need much more attention on your big day. Think about all the pro’s out of this that most people can’t say they got! All of this just sounds kind of selfish just so that they can get all the money back to now financially support a “curve ball.” I mean if this all didn’t happen, would you still be suing for all your money back if Covid didn’t interfere? My gut says you still would. Like you said, “morals.”

    Reply
    • Ri

      This isn’t just some curve ball or buyers remorse. They weren’t offering her what she signed yet they’re trying to nab her for breaching contract? 16K isn’t a drop in the bucket. Her whole savings went to that wedding date/reception/ceremony/guest count etc. COVID throwing a wrench into that is not the brides fault. Postponing a wedding might work for some families but not all families. She got everything ready and was fine to have a wedding with a newborn. Especially with the amount of support her friends and family were offering. Also a newborn is much easier to deal with than a 1 year old. They are asking for the money back because refunding them back what they paid (keep the non refundable deposit) but like if they didn’t front all that cash they wouldn’t be in this mess. So for them to be considerate and pay everything upfront the morally right thing to do is give them the 15K back and sell the date to someone else who is going to have 50 people. It’s not reasonable to tell someone to cut their group down from 200 to 50 people. The venue said they would accommodate her group on that date. If they can’t do that, then they should give them the money back.

      Reply
    • Karen

      She is not selfish She paid all up front so she didn’t have to deal with the wedding. AS it is she had to pay for another place. So she is out more money. But she will have the wedding she dreamed of.

      Reply
    • Tracy Clark

      Really? Buyers remorse? This is a joke right? I’m not even sure where you pulled that straw from. So what if she had a baby…She paid for her entire wedding many months in advance! The venue cannot use Covid as an excuse to keep her money. The original terms will not be met regardless of the other options they offered. I’m guessing the contract did not state if some pandemic should arise we reserve the right to keep your money and offer you lesser accommodates that you must agree to or we keep your money. Also Maybe she didn’t want to wait a whole other year to get married. Maybe certain family members won’t make it another year. There are so many reasons why she may not want to wait another year. In any case she does not need to justify her reasoning for wanting her money back. I know if I had planned my wedding for an entire year and spent that much money on a venue I most certainly would be doing the same. Just because you are ok with it doesn’t mean everybody else has to be. This venue should be ashamed. Not only that they are going to lose a whole lot of business in the end.

      Reply
  5. Andyfab

    My can company, Fabulous Audio, had a couple schedule a wedding and paid a $250 non-refundable deposit for the date. When Covid-19 hit and they called to cancel I refunded their deposit in full not because I had to, but because it was, morally, the right thing to do. If GVWIRE would contact this lady to give me a call, I’d gladly do it for the price of gas to and from the event. Just give her my e-mail address.

    Reply
  6. Ciss

    The venue is being unrealistic. Keep the 2500, however, the remainder should go back to the couple. The venue had no out of pocket expense on this event nor could they have rebooked it given the restrictions to recoup their money . Bottom line, I’m guessing they don’t have the money and spent the cash to maintain their property during the pandemic .

    Reply
  7. Sheridan

    Give their money back
    COVID changed everything
    That’s a lot of money to lose
    I will not use your venue establishment
    I highly doubt others will either
    Keep the $2500 deposit & REFUND those kids $$$ … It really is the right thing to do under the curcumstances

    Reply
  8. Perspicacious

    Both parties got screwed by the plannedemic. However, in this case, the bride is getting screwed worse. The venue keeps saying they offered alternatives but that is NOT what the bride paid big money for. Of course the bride chose not to take the alternatives.

    Reply
  9. Tara

    Morally they should give it back. I had to cancel my wedding at Rava Winery and they offered me my money back without me even asking. It’s called being a good person. It’s been tough being an upcoming bride in 2020. It’s tough to even pick a new date because no one knows what will happen with the Covid rules. It changes constantly.

    Reply
  10. Tony R.

    I support the bride. She paid for a dream wedding where 151-200 guests would be able to attend. Everything was changed by COVID19, not the bride. Since HSHC was unable to fulfill what was promised COVID19 or not, still I think to be fair, the majority of the big deposit should be refunded. I understand that expenses were incurred by HSHC but in the end the bride received nothing. All she wanted was her wedding that she paid for in advance on the date she and her guests counted on or the majority of the deposit already paid refunded. Now instead of resolving this matter amicably, this will be looked at by everyone who considers using HSHC and they will lose the people’s trust. It’s only my opinion.

    Reply
  11. DTC

    My fiancé and I lost money from this venue as well. We battled back and forth with them and they only gave us the deposit back instead of the larger amount we put down after Covid started. We were hesitant paying anymore money because we weren’t sure if we would be able to have the wedding this year. But they insisted it had to be paid to keep our date, and now that money is gone!! Other wedding venues are giving full refund of couples money back, they should have too. Such a disappointment in how this was handled.

    Reply
  12. Brittany Tollison

    Riki Niece and her fiancee should get their money back. Nobody foresaw covid-19 occuring and her and her family shouldn’t be penalized for planning to get married during it.

    Reply
  13. Irene

    Keep the non refundable deposit. Give the rest back. You are unable to provide what she paid for and if you make her have to go to court to get it back you are just being unnecessarily cruel and i hope others take this into consideration and you lose some future clients

    Reply
  14. Jenn

    She should get her money back since she isn’t able to have the wedding she was planning for

    Reply
  15. Michelle Jensen

    She deserves her money back. I know people who booked with other weddings and they received full refunds

    Reply
  16. Frank M

    Give them their money back. Binding contract means BOTH SIDES HONOR THE AGREEMENT. If the event coordinator could not honor the agreement as first agreed upon, then they should give back the funds. It’s not the bride and grooms fault either if COVID -19 played a part in this situation, but you take the non-refundable and give the rest back….PERIOD!

    Reply
  17. sharon

    Seriously???? You must work for the venue or something because NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would feel this is fair. My friend in Southern California had the same thing happen … THEY GAVE HER BACK EVERY SINGLE PENNY!!!!!!!

    Reply

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