CLEVELAND - If you have ever planned a wedding, you know how much the little details matter.
Ernesto Cruz and his fiancee, Elizabeth, know there are long lists of "to-dos" before saying "I do."
The Cleveland couple has been engaged for the last year-and-a-half, planning out all of the details of their dream destination wedding in Puerto Rico.
But a week before their wedding date on September 9, it seemed their best laid plans came crashing down. The wedding planner they had hired in Puerto Rico sent them an email saying that she had gone bankrupt and vendors had not been paid.
"You spend this much time, trying to plan something," Cruz said. "You work very hard, basically your whole life, to do something for your future wife, to give her the wedding of her dreams. Then you find out you've been victimized by somebody like this."
Cruz said they sent the wedding planner, Anita Quintana Sanchez of International Occasions, approximately $9,000 over the last 18 months to pay for vendors like caterers, beverages and a DJ. They are not hopeful they will see that money ever again, especially not in time for their Saturday wedding.
Sanchez said the company has closed and a refund is pending.
She sent News 5 the following statement:
I am so sorry about all of this, I went bankrupt after 10 years in this industry. My family has been trying to help get a loan. Because of the financial crisis and,this economy a lien was put on my house and on verge of homelessness. We are awaiting answer on a new loan from another family member in order to reimburse them. They have however made a claim via PayPal and reversed the charges and recovering their money so they at this point have not lost everything. I don't know if destiny was trying to save them as the hurricane,approaching may make it impossible to carry out their wedding. It may not have been meant to be. I was hospitalized over the collapse of the business through illness and the,zika scare took everything I built over a decade.. I am heartbroken that this has happened to them and all couples,affected. God willing , they will be able to have their wedding and,all matters,settled. I hope one day they will understand that I never meant to disappoint them and that no one will ever know the horror of what it's like to lose everything and be publicly shamed for it. Unfortunately I don't sell shoes and going out of business in this case carries a heavy and painful price.
In the meantime, Cruz and his fiancee's family, friends, and even strangers have stepped up, donating food for the wedding, and even a cake.
The couple had booked and paid for the venue, photographer and pastor on their own, so the hope is to walk down the aisle as planned on Saturday.
They are also fighting against the path of Hurricane Irma expected to hit Puerto Rico.
"We know that this is destined for us to be and nothing is going to stop that. Nobody is going to stop that," Cruz said. "Life is not easy and people are not always on your side. But God is always on your side and things will always work out for the best if you believe."
The groom's sister started a GoFundMe page to help recoup some of their losses. The couple plans to meet with detectives once they arrive in Puerto Rico. Telemundo in Puerto Rico also ran a similar story recently of a couple's wedding woes dealing with the same wedding planner.