Brides report wedding planner ‘ghosted’ them before they said ‘I do’

It started out as a dream wedding but quickly turned into a nightmare.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:29 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 7:49 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It started out as a dream wedding but quickly turned into a nightmare.

In a lawsuit filed by Kala Colbert, she stated she thought she hired someone she could trust for the happiest day of her life. But when she couldn’t get a call back from her wedding planner, her lawsuit alleges things started to turn sour.

“So all the red flags that were in front of my face, I was kind of just pushing to the side,” Colbert said. “I don’t want to believe this. I don’t think she’s doing this to me… Until about 18 days to my wedding, when she completely ghosted me,” she added.

In 2018, Colbert signed a contract with Sweet N’ Southern Events, owned by Kyle Grommersch, for a “Day Of Coordination” service package priced at $1,400 for her Lowcountry wedding.

Six days before the big day, Colbert and her then-fiancé made the decision to fire her and hire a new day-of-coordinator at the last minute.

At the time, the company did not have a license in either North Carolina or South Carolina to operate. It later rebranded as KG Wedding and Events.

Three years later, under the new name, Sam Dalzell, from Chicago, hired Grommersch in 2021 for her romantic Southern fall wedding.

She said Grommersh promised her she didn’t have anything to worry about. When she too stopped hearing from the planner in January 2022, she decided to cancel the contract too.

“We’re so happy and someone is just like feeding you into that and,you know, saying you’re amazing and it’s gonna be beautiful and you guys have a love like she’s never seen before and all this stuff,” Dalzell said. “When it all turned around to realize that was all fake I felt really gross. I felt very victimized,” she added.

Dalzell said that vendors had not been contacted and unlike promises made, their quotes were well out of their price range. The wedding is back on track scheduled for later this year, but not without extra dollar signs.

“It is more than double of our budget of what we were originally told by Kylie that we could do. And that kind of disservice from the very beginning, is just, it would have changed some of our decisions,” she said.

All of the clients Grommersch took on were required to pay a 50% deposit, as stated in their contracts:

After services have been agreed upon by all parties the contract has been submitted to KG Weddings and Events, LLC (KGWE), the client agrees to pay a minimum retaining fee which is equal to 50% of the total invoice within 72 hours of submitting the contract. Failure to do so will result in a voiding of the contract and the date will no longer be held.

Unlike Colbert’s contract, Dalzell’s had a stipulation that the deposit could only be refunded within three days with “zero exceptions” after that time period.

Brides found Grommersch on the website The Knot when looking for a planner to work with and stated that she had glowing reviews and awards.

There is also a Facebook Group called Victims of Kylie Grommersch (Wedding Planner) where there are more than 200 members sharing their stories, hoping to prevent another couple from experiencing what they did.

But in court filings, Grommersch claimed the members of this group have made “objectively false statements” and have harassed her family and friends.

In January 2020, after Colbert filed her lawsuit against her former wedding planner in small claims court, Grommersch filed a police report against Colbert for harassment because of the posts Colbert was making online.

Grommersch complained that Colbert was posting her address, phone number, and family member names. Police advised Colbert to refrain from doing so.

At this time, no charges have been filed against Colbert.

Additional members of the group expressed interest in speaking on the record about their personal experiences but chose not to out of fear of retaliation.

Several former clients state they have not received any of their money back.

Other local wedding planners stepped in to help finish the jobs, offering great discounts and working overtime to make sure the weddings happened without a hitch.

“We have a new planner who is absolutely wonderful. Her name is Kate and she’s taken a lot of us,” said Dalzell. “She’s saving a lot of us. So now it’s good, now we’re back to the happy stuff.”

Legal troubles, Unpaid dues

In October 2020, a Charleston County judge ordered that Grommersch pay Colbert $2,786 for the money owed and attorney’s fees.

Colbert says she still has not seen that money.

In April 2021, Grommersch filed an appeal claiming she had never been informed of a rescheduled trial date and that the contract was “clearly… nonrefundable.”

Her appeal was denied.

Late last year, four lawsuits were filed against Grommersch in small claims court in just two months.

Two were dismissed because of incorrect party filings, meaning Grommersch was named personally but not the business, which no longer exists.

Those may still be refiled, but it’s unclear if they will be.

Marc Gaskins, the owner of Event Kitchens, also filed a lawsuit against Grommersch for failing to pay for two convection ovens needed for a wedding last minute.

He stated in court documents that he sent the invoice 11 times. When he tried to serve her papers for the case, he did not have her correct address. But Gaskins said his dispute has been resolved because Grommersch has paid the tab.

Another suit, filed by the mother of the bride Denise Degnan, is still pending. In her claim, she said that despite hiring Grommersch no plans were finalized within six months and they had booked nearly all of their vendors on their own.

She also wrote it was very difficult to schedule meetings and when they did have them, she felt nothing was accomplished.

The mother attempted to send a termination letter twice, after losing all communication with Grommersch nine months after signing the contract.

In a motion to dismiss this lawsuit, Grommersch claimed she has “suffered physical, psychological, reputational and emotional injury” after Degnan showed up to her home to get her money back.

Consumers should make sure they’ve got ‘layers of armor’

It’s easy to get swept up when planning the happiest day of your life.

“The reason you might be more susceptible [to scammers] is you know you’re going to be spending a lot of money. So you might not think twice when a contractor, an event planner, whoever they may be says, ‘you’ve got to pay for this upfront,’” South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs Communications Director Bailey Parker said.

But it is important to do everything you can to protect yourself. References are key, Parker said, because online reviews are less than trustworthy.

She also said you can find these at wedding expos, through friends and family or through the wedding planner you’re interested in hiring.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate contracts to include language that protects you from having to pay if services aren’t completed or ask questions.

If they give you a hard time, Parker said it’s best to just walk away.

“Nobody is forcing you into that and if a business is giving you a hard time on the front end about something, some things that you’re concerned about that’s a pretty good sign that they’re gonna give you a hard time on the back end. So it’s probably not a business you want to work with anyway,” she said.

Though consumer due diligence is important, it may not always be foolproof.

“You can put on all of these layers of armor, it’s not going to completely save you from everything,” Parker said. “But does that mean you don’t put on any layers of armor? No, you still want to do all of the things that will protect you,” she added.

Grommersch had requested most of her clients pay her for the packages through a personal Venmo account. When they disputed the service for their money back, Venmo representatives informed them the money was gone.

Parker said offering only one form of payment can be a “red flag.”

“Businesses will give you different options of payment. It’s not just going to be one form of payment,” she said.

As for The Knot, many members of the Facebook group have been in contact with the company over reviews they tried to leave for KG Weddings and Events.

“[The Knot] said you have to redact this, you have to redact that, you cannot have this. And ultimately all our reviews didn’t get posted,” Dalzell said.

A request for comment from The Knot has gone unanswered.

Grommersch and her representation have declined to comment for this story.