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Couples claim agency ruined their weddings TheStar.com – GTA – Couples claim agency ruined their weddings

RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR
Rachel Welham and Andrew Oh lost thousands when a decorator cancelled contracts days before their wedding.

TROUBLED TIMES

October 22, 2008: Affairs With Flair is registered as a business. The company had been operating under a vendor’s licence for three years prior, Parisotto said.

July 18, 2009: Affairs With Flair invoices bride Shayna Wilks.

July 20: Sara Nassif deposits $825.38 into the Affairs With Flair account via money transfer. She had previously made deposits of $663.23 and $250.

July 23: Nassif deposits $250 for Parisotto’s services as a coordinator on the day of her wedding.

July 24: Parisotto fails to appear at Nassif’s wedding rehearsal after agreeing to attend the day before.

July 25 at 1:04 a.m.: Nassif receives an email from Affairs With Flair stating: “Please note that Affairs With Flair has filed an assignment in bankruptcy … For more information please email us.”

July 25 at 2:18 p.m.: Affairs With Flair emails Natalie McFarlane, asking whether she had paid her outstanding balance.

July 25 at 2:30 p.m.: Nassif marries Rob Hutchinson. No sign of Parisotto, who had been contracted to provide decorations and act as wedding coordinator.

July 25 at 8 p.m.: Shayna Wilks receives an email that claims to be resending a message Parisotto sent July 17, in which the decorator informed the bride of her company’s bankruptcy.

July 25 at 10:48 p.m.: Natalie McFarlane deposits $1,000 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 26: Affairs With Flair tells Natalie McFarlane they have not yet received payment.

July 27 at 6:54 p.m.: McFarlane deposits $500 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 27 at 8:01 p.m.: Rachel Welham receives an email from Affairs With Flair informing her she owes the company $574.

July 28: Welham’s fiancé, Andrew Oh, deposits $574 into the Affairs With Flair account.

July 29: Affairs With Flair informs multiple couples that the company has filed for bankruptcy. The message says: “If there are any funds available a refund may be made.”

July 30: In an email, Affairs With Flair tells McFarlane that they had “no funds available to be returned to clients.”

Source: Documents supplied to the Star by clients of Affairs With Flair

Decorator denies she solicited new clients while telling others she’d gone bankrupt

August 08, 2009

Nick Kyonka

Staff Reporter

More than a dozen couples say their weddings have been fouled up by a Toronto-area wedding decorator who left them hanging – some just hours before their ceremony – after collecting thousands of dollars in payments.

Seventeen couples contacted in a Toronto Star investigation say they doled out payments totalling more than $19,000 to Mississauga-based Affairs With Flair, which began to cancel some contracts two weekends ago, while appearing to continue requesting and accepting payments from other clients.

“It was supposed to be my dream day,” said Shayna Wilks, who says she lost more than $1,900 to the company, which was contracted to provide the linens, backdrops, flowers and other decorative items for her July 26 wedding at The Old Mill Inn and Spa in Toronto.

“I worked so hard and saved a lot of money for this day. And then this person came and took it all away.”

Anna Parisotto, the company’s owner and operator, said in a telephone interview this week that her business is in trouble and she is filing for bankruptcy. She denies taking payments from some clients while informing others she was going out of business – and cancelling their contracts.

“I was setting up weddings and I was having major panic attacks,” Parisotto said of the final weeks in July, adding, “There is no money. My bank records will show that.”

Wilks said she was given no hint of the trouble plaguing Affairs With Flair until July 25 – the night before her wedding.

That evening she received an email from the company. Attached to it was what appeared to be another email, dated July 17, informing Wilks that the company was filing for bankruptcy and would be unable to service her wedding. The message in the new email said simply: “resending to ensure e-mail was received.”

Wilks says she never received an email dated July 17 warning of impending bankruptcy. She did, however, receive correspondence from the company after that date, including an invoice and email on July 18 requesting payment of the $933 outstanding on her account – which Wilks says she paid in full two days later.

“I literally stopped breathing,” Wilks said of the July 25 message. “I was in a huge panic.”

Between July 25 and July 29, other couples received similar messages from Parisotto, stating she was filing for bankruptcy.

Copies of email money transfers by clients indicate Parisotto’s company continued to request and accept payments from some clients even as she cancelled services for others.

Bride Natalie McFarlane paid $1,500 in two transfers: one on July 25 and another on July 27. She was told of the company’s bankruptcy on July 29, days ahead of her Aug. 1 wedding. McFarlane says she lost about $2,700 in total.

Another couple, Andrew Oh and Rachel Welham, said they made a $574 payment on July 28, a day after Parisotto had petitioned them to pay up or lose her services.

“She kept on telling us that (July 28) was the last day for us to pay her,” said Oh.

“She just started demanding the rest of the balance.”

The next night, July 29, Oh received the same email Parisotto had sent to other clients, informing them that Affairs With Flair was going bankrupt. The couple’s Aug. 1 wedding went ahead as planned, but they had to scramble to find another decorator and florist.

Another bride emailed Parisotto on July 28 to say the Affairs with Flair website was down. Parisotto replied: “I know it’s being updated. I will be sending you the updated invoice shortly. Will you be able to place another deposit to catch up?”

Parisotto, who said she has been in the wedding planner business for four years, insists she stopped receiving payments after she began to email clients to inform them of the bankruptcy on the morning of July 25.

In an email to the Star this week, she said: “Since the notice has gone out to brides about the bankruptcy there (has) been no deposit made to my account.”

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada said there is no record as yet of a bankruptcy claim, but that it can take up to 30 days to process. Records show Parisotto filed for personal bankruptcy under her maiden name, Anna Maria Francavilla, in 2001, listing $38,797 in liabilities and $900 in assets.

Parisotto said the 2001 bankruptcy was related to a divorce.

Parisotto has sent several more emails to couples, asking for patience while she sorts out her financial mess. The couples say Parisotto has refused requests to speak to her trustee, whom she said will keep them abreast of her situation.

Some couples have sought help from police, but were told the matter is a contractual issue for the courts.

Sara Nassif, who reported her loss of nearly $2,000 to both York and Peel police, said she wouldn’t want her money back at the expense of another couple.

“If she were to pay me back, it would be dirty money,” said Nassif, whose father paid $4,000 for replacement decorations after Parisotto cancelled her contract 13 hours before Nassif’s July 25 wedding ceremony.

“It would just be another bride’s money.”

As a result of the money lost, some couples were forced to settle for a wedding short of their dreams.

Others, like Wilks and her now husband, Chris Carson, were forced to cut back on their honeymoon.

“There’s no excuse for what I’ve gone through or what other brides are going through,” said Wilks, adding she felt sick to her stomach and cried every day for a week after her less-than-ideal wedding. “She’s taken more than (money) from me. She’s taken the first days that I’m supposed to be happily married.”

Nick Kyonka can be reached at nkyonka@thestar.ca


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