HARDIN COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – A scam conning wedding couples out of thousands of dollars is the focus of a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andy Beshear this week. Nicolle Thompson-Staples, owner of Gabriella Farm, is accused of canceling ceremonies and pocketing the cash.
Zach and Deanna Mattingly are one of the seven couples she’s accused of stealing from. The two said they have been saving practically their entire lives to throw an unforgettable wedding ceremony.
When they visited Gabriella Farm last year, they said Thompson-Staples seemed like the perfect person to plan it.
“I just remember getting in the car leaving her place the first time we met her thinking she was amazing like we need to have her do our wedding,” said Deanna.
The date was set for September 22, 2018. Over the year, they said Thompson-Staples worked closely with them to figure out every detail. According to the lawsuit, Thompson-Staples would provide the couples with invoices from the vendors, but, the couples were asked to send her their payments.
By the beginning of September, the Mattinglys had sent her $11,173.
At that time, they started coming across negative reviews of Gabriella Farm online. Couples called the service a scam, complaining that everything from the DJ to the cake to the flowers were all wrong. So, Zach and Deanna contacted the vendors directly.
“The bartender told me they had cancelled our wedding due to lack of payment, the photographer told me he did not photograph weddings, and the caterer had never heard of us,” Zach said.
Each of their vendors either knew nothing about their wedding or had already cancelled since they hadn’t been paid. The complaint against Thompson-Staples shows that only $750 from the Mattinglys went to one of their wedding vendors.
Their ceremony was just three weeks away.
“It just kind of blows our mind what she thought was going to happen because knowing that you hadn’t paid for any of that stuff yet, knowing that none of those people were going to be there what did you think was going to happen when we showed up to our wedding and there was nothing?” Zach said.
When the Mattinglys questioned Thompson-Staples, they said she gave them the run around—making false promises and excuses that didn’t make sense.
Thompson-Staples limited their communication to text messages, and now, even that has stopped. The couple was able to have their wedding but they had to scramble to come up another $11,000 to afford it. Plus, they said it was very stressful to arrange all new vendors under the tight time crunch.
“I mean we still had a great day and it was still the happiest day of my life, but she stole joy from the time that was supposed to be the happiest for us,” Deanna said.
The Mattinglys and the six other couples are owed a total of $30,000 in restitution, according to Beshear.
The website for Gabriella Farm is no longer active and Thompson-Staples has not responded for comment.