Flower Mound wedding chapel leaves couples in a lurch

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 23 at 7:01 PM

Chapelle des Fleurs

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FLOWER MOUND — Dozens of couples who planned to tie the knot at a Flower Mound wedding chapel must now find a new place to get married... and they money to do so.

Most of them are out thousands of dollars after Janice Falkenstein — the woman who ran the business — was evicted for failing to pay her rent.

Angry couples and their families converged on the now-closed Chapelle des Fleurs. Most had just received an e-mail from Falkenstien.

Rodrigo Mondaca and Samantha Esparza's wedding was set for Saturday.

"What do I do?" she asked. "I don't have anything else to do. I don't even know how to explain how I was feeling."

Becky Tutor says after her husband died, she used the money he left her to pay for her daughter's wedding at Chapelle des Fleurs.

"She wanted a special wedding. We wrote the check for $8,000 and it's gone... it's all gone," Tutor said.

Falkenstein posted a letter on her website admitting her rent payments were late many times over the last few years.

"My heart is broken and to my precious brides I want you to know that I will never, ever get over this. I am so very, very sorry that this happened to your most special day in your life. I care deeply for every one of you – you were the daughters I never got to have. I know that words are not enough."

Falkenstein posted a list of other venues that have "graciously offered to help my brides in any way they can."

"You put money down on a place. You're excited. You're telling family, 'OK, we're going to get married here.' You invested money. What are you going to do?" asked frustrated bride-to-be Sadie Mullins.

Building owner Sheila Hodge talked with the couples and families on Thursday afternoon, explaining why she had Falkenstein locked out. Hodge told us the chapel's owner had been late on her payments for the eight years she leased the space.

"She hasn't paid me, and she's got their money," Hodge said.

Hodge said she will permit Samantha and Rodrigo's wedding to take place as planned on Saturday. She told us she wishes she could do more for the dozens of couples who now must start over and find another place to get married — and who likely won't get their money back.

"It's not fair," Becky Tutor said.

Janice Falkenstein's attorney said her client wants to fulfill her obligation, but can't since she's not allowed on the property.

The attorney also encourages the families who paid by credit card to file a dispute with the card providers to get their money back.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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