Couples Scramble After Wedding Venue in Flower Mound Abruptly Closes

Couples who paid thousands now scrambling for venue for their wedding

Dozens of couples are searching for wedding venues after a chapel in Flower Mound closed down Wednesday.

The owner of Chapelle Des Fleurs emailed the couples Wednesday morning and said the venue was closed.

Janice Orndorf-Falkenstein said she was a few days late on rent and that the owners of the building had evicted her.

The same message was posted on the business' website.

Becky Tutor's daughter, Yvette, and her future son-in-law, Daniel Bruce, were supposed to get married at the Chapelle Des Fleurs on March 22.

She said she couldn't believe it when she got the email about the closure. She paid $8,000 on June 30 and now fears she'll never get the money back.

"How could she take the money, knowing this was all we had? How could you honestly do that?" Tutor said.

The email and notice on Chapelle Des Fleurs' website lists the cellphone numbers of the building's owners, Sheila and Cliff Hodge.

NBC 5 emailed and called Orndorf-Falkenstein for comment. She sent a text message saying she was "heartbroken and devastated by the lack of compassion the Hodges have shown."

But the Hodges have a different story.

"It's very untrue," Shelia Hodge.

She said Orndorf-Falkenstein, who had been a tenant for eight years, was constantly late on rent, at times a two to three months behind and owing tens of thousands of dollars. The Hodges said they had cut Orndorf-Falkenstein some slack several times over the years, but their patience finally ran out.

Sheila Hodge said they took Orndorf-Falkenstein to court and even drew up a new lease for the business a few months ago. But Orndorf-Falkenstein was already violating the new lease by not paying on time, she said.

Hodge said she is being compassionate with the brides.

"I'm sitting here, meeting with all these people, and she's hiding behind whatever," she said. "She's putting my name on her website to go after me. I'm in the same spot all those people are in. I'm not in the wedding business."

Several families have come forward to back Hodge and said they blame Orndorf-Falkenstein for what happened.

"The lady, Shelia, I think, had more compassion for us than Janice has," Tutor said. "She hasn't given anyone the time of day.

Tutor said she and about 20 other families met on Wednesday with Hodge, who is trying to help the families find other venues.

Lee Ray Benavidez told NBC 5 that he is out of luck after paying $10,000 in July for his Dec. 28 wedding.

Bruce said he had to break the news to his fiancée that their money is gone and that they'll have to find a new place to get married.

"My heart was broken for her," he said. "To me, my mindset has always been, 'Listen, I'm marrying you, and that's all that matters to me.'"

Orndorf-Falkenstein declined an on-camera interview. She released a statement through her attorney that says: "She is devastated and saddened that she is unable to continue operating Chapelle des Fleurs. Her heart goes out to those affected emotionally and financially."

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