BLACK FOREST, Colo. — A Colorado Springs bride will finally say ‘I Do’ in front of her family and friends in September. This after changing the date three times and joining a lawsuit suing her original venue.
Kimberly Hickenbottom said 28 brides collectively lost more than $2 million and never had the chance to walk down the aisle at the venue The Black Forest Retreat” or Go Black Forest.
Hickenbottom got engaged on February 2, 2018, and planned to have her big day on April 18, 2020. She never thought when she said yes that wedding planning would turn into such a nightmare.
She met 42-year-old Richard Reynolds at a wedding expo at Elegante Hotel. Hickenbottom won $500 off a wedding package for the venue.
“All said and done he said it was a $34,000 wedding that he was going to give to us for about $12,000,” Hickenbottom said.
The all-inclusive wedding was pushed back another year due to the pandemic but while Hickenbottom waited she also looked into the owner of the venue.
“At that time, I had found about 9 other brides that were looking for him and they asked me if I would like to be in a class-action lawsuit against him to see if we could get any money back because everyone was out,” Hickenbottom explained.
She later learned Reynolds didn’t have a business permit and the venue had to be shut down by the government over zoning compliance issues. El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) has an ongoing investigation into Reynolds and The Black Forest Retreat.
“I later found out that he had a cease and desist a week before he took my final check placed on him. He took my check knowing willingly that he was stealing money from me,” Hickenbottom added.
She decided to have a courthouse wedding during this debacle and almost gave up on having the ceremony of her dreams with her closest friends and family until the manager of a different venue called.
“He said I would like to offer you my venue and our cottages for your family to stay in,” Hickenbottom cried.
“Our thought is that she already paid for the wedding, she hasn’t paid us but she has paid for the wedding so someone should step up and take care of that and we wanted to be those people,” Black Forest Lodge Manager James Moss said.
Hickenbottom will now have the ceremony on September 5 at Black Forest Lodge. She warns brides to do their research before putting down any downpayment on a venue or vendor.
“It took me five minutes to find out that this man was not a good man and I kick myself all the time still to this day to take that brief moment so blindly going in would have saved us so much time and hassle for sure,” Hickenbottom said.
There is a Blessing Room for brides where she is getting married in September where brides can leave decorations for future brides. Hickenbottom wants to pay it forward by leaving her decorations to bless other brides.
A GoFundMe page was set up by Hickenbottom’s sister to help fund her wedding after losing about $20,000 the first go around. Hickenbottom wants to thank Dunrite Photography, Complete Wedding & Events, and Black Forest Lodge for helping her with discounts.
Reynolds claims his company has been closed since March of 2020. He added that he began filing paperwork for bankruptcy and the property has been in foreclosure for almost six months. Reynolds said existing litigation for lawsuits has caused all the money to be exhausted and to no avail. He said after COVID the operating costs exceeded available funds. When asked if he will repay the brides, Reynolds responded, “we have no monies remaining everything we had we used in the litigation process or was paid to vendors… we have hit rock bottom.” He plans to send letters to creditors and brides within the next 30 days.