TYLER, TX (KLTV) -The historic Roseland Plantation in Ben Wheeler is closing its doors. That is leaving some East Texas brides, who have already paid thousands of dollars to the venue, without a place to get married.
Courtnee Lowe thought she was six months away from marrying her college sweetheart at Roseland Plantation-- a place she'd admired since she was a little girl.
"It was my dream to get married there," she said. It was her dream, until she heard a rumor they were going out of business.
"I thought that can't be, that's impossible, we've been paying our money.. $10,947 and I don't know what our money went to," she said.
Determined to get it all back, Courtnee said she confronted the plantation's wedding planner demanding answers.
"I looked at her and I said, 'You're going to pay us back every penny.' And then with a smirk on her face she looked at me and she said, 'That's what bankruptcy is. We don't have to pay you back anything,'" said Courtnee.
"When you're paying money into a service like this, you're really depending on the integrity of the person you're paying your money to because you're in a very vulnerable position," said attorney Joe Thigpen.
Thigpen said if the business gives some brides refunds and not others, the court could take that refund back later.
It's all a complicated legal battle and owner Steve Toth said Roseland is trying to make all the right moves.
"How do you close down a business like that in a way as not to harm the brides? It's expensive and we're aware of that," he said.
Toth said after years of trying to get a loan that would allow Roseland to accommodate larger weddings and bring in more revenue, they were denied in early November.
"At that point we said we cannot expand the business, we cannot afford to keep it going. We have to shut it down and that's when we started notifying the brides," Toth said.
But, Courtnee said she wasn't notified by Roseland and now it has put her in a bind.
"My parents paid all of this for me. To give their daughter a beautiful wedding and I'll always have the guilt of knowing they spent all of their hard-earned money on me and I want them to get their money back," she said fighting back tears.
Lowe said she printed her save the dates on her grandmothers' old handkerchiefs. Now she worries they're ruined since as far as she knows there is no June 2nd wedding in Tyler.
Toth said all five of the brides who had their weddings planned at Roseland have now been notified the plantation is closing. But he said refunds are something he just can't promise.
"After Roseland is done I will not have a home, I will not have a business and I will not have an income," said Toth.
Toth said he and his wife bought the Roseland Plantation four years ago. He said they dreamed of running it as part of their retirement. But, two years ago his wife passed away from cancer. He said he invested all of her life insurance in trying to keep Roseland Plantation in business and now it's time for him to move on. He said he plans on doing mission work since he will no longer have a place to live.
And Courtnee is heartbroken, "I may not be getting the wedding of my dreams but I'm still going to marry the man of my dreams," she said.
Leaving Toth able to offer nothing else but an apology, "All I'd like to add is.. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that we were unable to make Roseland self-sustaining so that the future generations could enjoy and appreciate the historic value of what is here," he said, "I'm sorry it didn't work out the way my wife and I had planned."
The former owners of Roseland Plantation, Tim West and his wife, still live on the property next door. They said they feel so bad for the brides who are left without a wedding venue that they're willing to let them get married on their property for free.