- 8 years ago
- Wedding: October 2010
Since there aren’t really any extensive reviews of Victoria Belle, I wanted to give my honest and complete account of booking with this venue – this is going to be long and detailed.
We booked in late December of 2009 for an October 2010 wedding; we were newly engaged and thought we were getting a really good deal since the catering, bakery, and florist were all award winning. As well as the house is absolutely beautiful (despite not being restored to it’s original contemporary condition). Since that date we have not had a positive moment in the wedding planning process. We went in February to VB’s annual tasting – there we found the truth about her vendors.
The Caterer – is a personal friend of the owner, caterers out of her home, and only does work for Victoria Belle. All of which would be perfectly fine if the food was not absolutely horrid. The food was extremely dry, hard, and cold. Nothing was labeled so we didn’t know what we were eating. Some of the foods had nuts in them, but you wouldn’t know by looking – if someone had a food allergy that day it could have been deadly. When speaking with the caterer herself, she had to consult her menu when we asked what something was. Later when the owner/wedding planner gave us our “day of itinerary” we found that the caterer sets up the food in the serving dishes/chafers approximately 5 hours prior to when the food would be available for consumption by guests – no wonder it’s hard and cold – and approximately 10 hours prior to the end of an event – this is standard practice/timeline for this venue. It doesn’t take much to come to the conclusion that there are dozens of issues with the food service, just given this example. She does have a business license, but nothing else – no website or anything.
The Bakery – is again a personal friend of the owner, works out of their (husband and wife team) home, and lives approximately 3 hours from the venue (they live in the same town in Alabama that my fiancee’s grandparents live in – we know how long the drive is, even though the owner said it only took 30 minutes. The wife told us herself it normally takes them a little over 3 hours to get there – you can google it – Roanoke, AL). When we asked about examples of their fondant work (which is standard in weddings and has been for quite some time now) we were told “why would anyone want fondant it tastes like play – dough.” Obviously, they do not make good fondant, nor know how to work with it. They only brought vanilla, chocolate, and marble cake with buttercream icing to the tasting. As you can imagine transferring a wedding cake 3 hours is just in general not a good idea. Their cakes are good, but by no means exceptional and a good baker in any family could make the same thing.
The DJ – the dj is the son of the caterer. When we met he made it very clear that he almost exclusively works at VB, and prefers it that way – very biased towards the owner. We were relatively pleased with his professionalism and his equipment.
The Florist – is actually a legit florist associated with Callaway Gardens. He and his assistant were the only vendor that we were truly fully pleased with and enjoyed. They do good work, very professional, and very willing to work with you on custom designs. I would suggest them if you’re having a wedding in the southeast (they travel) – Details of the Garden.
The Owner/exclusive wedding planner – evidently this is where most of our problems resided. In our initial meeting she made a few snarky comments about the fact that I have experience in the wedding industry – specially in planning, organization, coordination, and design in very high end settings – but we dismissed them thinking well the venue is so pretty whatever if she’s not totally nice. At the tasting (about 2 months later) she hardly spoke to us as she was catering to the people who obviously were spending more money than we were at her venue (larger guest list). After the tasting, I was really interested in the breakdown of the package prices (since she never would give us anything that said x amount goes to this area), so after several emails back and forth she finally gave me something. It was completely out there to say the least – in no way did it breakdown what we were actually paying each vendor and venue to equal the total amount paid in the package price. It did say that we were paying $4100 for 100 guests for the catering – I was floored to say the least considering the quality of the food.
In April my mother accompanied me to meet with her and on the itinerary for me was to discuss possibly a refund for the catering so we could get another more adequate caterer – food is important. It was really at this meeting that everything fell apart. She would only refund us $2200 which included food, dishes, flatware, and glasses. The reason for the discrepancy between $2200 and the $4100 was the difference between her “retail price verses her whole sale price.” Again many snarky comments about my experience in the wedding industry were made – my mom couldn’t believe that someone would make such comments to a paying customer. I told the owner that my maid of honor would be in honor of my sister who passed (at that point in time the two year anniversary was coming up in 3 weeks, so as you can imagine the loss of a child is very sensitive subject around the parent of the child and any relatives – my sister and I were close she was only 13 months younger than me and I cared for her during her years of terminal illness and double lung transplant). I wish I was exaggerating, but seriously 15 minutes later we were discussing the processional and she goes “and your made of honor, Kim, will walk in from this direction…” time stopped for my mother and I. We were both like “um, Vickie, Kimmy has passed – remember we told you about it 15 minutes ago…” She was like “oh yeah.” Nothing more than that, not oh I’m sorry please forgive my forgetfulness or anything – no apology for stabbing a knife in my mom and my hearts. So about 20 minutes after that we’re upstairs discussing things about my dress and all, and my mom explains to Vickie – breaking down and crying at this point – about the tattoo that I have in honor of my sister (angel wings on my left shoulder with my sister’s initials) and how important it is to both her, me, and my family that we got a dress and did my hair so that it showed. Vickie turns to me and goes “so you’re going to cover it up right? Tattoos are trashy.” Whatever your opinion may be on the topics of tattoos this is not something you say in that moment. My mother and I were in shock that someone could be so incredibly insensitive and just straight up rude so many times in the matter of a 2 hour period – and she works in the wedding industry as a venue owner and wedding planner. It was also at this meeting that she said that the “way it’s done” at her location for the bridal processional is that the bride walks down the stairs ALONE without her father and her father would open the doors from the outside. When I said that I’d really like my dad to walk with me down the stairs for both sentimental and logical reasons (5.5 inch heels + staircase + bridal gown + clumsy = me eating it) and she said “well that’s just not how it’s done here.” Needless to say I was basically done with Vickie at this point, but because of the monthly payment plan that Vickie requires we were already several thousand dollars in to this venue and would lose all of those funds if we canceled.
After this meeting my fiancée and I decided that our wishes for OUR special day were not being heard and would not be carried out on the wedding day, so we hired an outside wedding planner. Of the 3 wedding planners we interviewed 2 were going to charge $300-400 extra simply to deal with Vickie because apparently her attitude is infamous in the area – that’s just sad.
On August 22nd we (fiancée and I) went with our new wedding planner to meet at Victoria Belle and to meet with some the vendors (dj, baker, and florist) despite Vickie’s many protests that it wasn’t necessary for us (she didn’t know about the coordinator at this point) to meet with the vendors – what bride doesn’t want to have an in depth discussion with every vendor about their particular day? So we come and Vickie was very rude to our coordinator from the moment she (new planner) introduced herself as our wedding planner. We went upstairs to the office to speak with the florist, after that concluded Vickie came in and we basically in the nicest way possible said that we didn’t feel that we were being heard and that we would prefer if our planner were in charge of this event. Basically Vickie became very rude, snarky, unprofessional – literally throwing around paperwork like a child. At the previous meeting Vickie had asked me to bring a copy of the ceremony music so we could see how loud it would be outside, when I asked if we could do this she became very snarky. My fiancée at that point called her out, and asked her to be professional and that her snarky comments are not necessary nor appreciated and that she has been the sole cause of stress in our planning process. We calculated that taking out the florists bill, an average estimate for the dj, and the baker we were paying her $9500 to rent the place and she was acting like this? We walked away from that meeting everything okay on our end. On the following Friday Vickie emailed me essentially saying “I don’t know what went wrong with our relationship, why did Fiance verbally attack me, etc…” My Fiance and I responded with a list of very objective observations about her venue, her vendors, and her, concluding with to please communicate with us via our wedding planner. A few hours later my wedding planner called me saying that Vickie was very upset and is considering canceling our wedding – less than two months before the date. I asked our wedding planner to please communicate with her that we would like to have our wedding there – it’s gorgeous – but that we would prefer if she stepped aside and possibly renegotiate considering it’s approximately $6000 to rent the place and we’re paying $9500. Well Sunday we found out that she would not allow us on property, and that she was considering a full refund. Many snarky phone calls and emails later we received our certified check in the mail.
What Vickie never understood was that it wasn’t about the money. It was about the lack of respect, professionalism, and just plain common curtsey.
I want to warn all brides about her and her venue. If you, as a bride, do not really care about the details of your wedding or don’t particularly want to be involved with the planning then this is the place for you – she controls EVERYTHING! Due to the owner canceling our wedding less than two months before the date, I cannot account for what the actual day would have been like. Only my experience up to that point.
There are DOZENS of other venues in Atlanta that offer the same type venue, in a better location, with better vendors, and with better service. I can highly recommend many other locations if you’re interested.