Couple Fumes Over ‘Costco’ Wedding

NBC BAY AREA RESPONDS

A Vallejo bride and groom are emphatic: Don’t judge our wedding reception by the photos.

“The pictures look fine,” explained Mia Bennett, who married J.R. back in August.

Photos of the Bennett wedding reception are artfully shot, showing a colorful array of food. But the bride and groom say don’t be fooled by these creative angles. This party was subpar for the price they paid.

“It was embarrassing,” Mia Bennett said.

She points to the plates.

“Plastic,” she says.

She points to the cups.

“Plastic,” she says.

She points to the flatware.

“Plastic,” she says.

She points to the food.

“Cold, store-bought food from Costco,” she says. JR Bennett nods in agreement.

The Inn at Benicia Bay hosted Mia and J.R.’s reception. The Bennetts paid $3,800 for fewer than three dozen to dine and drink beer or wine.

“We had 30 guests, plus ourselves,” Mia said. “So 32.”

That breaks down to $118.75 per person for a meal they thought would include hot, heavy hors d'oeuvres – served on china.

Instead, they say their guests dined with plastic and ate a spread of cold meatballs, hummus, cheese cubes, and vegetables that resembled the sample tables at a warehouse store.

“Hopefully you’re a fan of variety,” JR said. “Hopefully, you’re the guy who likes walking around Costco getting every free sample.”

Mia and J.R. expected more for their money but admit a specific menu was not spelled out in their contract. All the contract says is that food “shall consist of heavy hors d’oeuvres at the choice of Shorelight Inn/the Inn at Benicia Bay.”

After the reception, the couple complained about the ambiguity in their agreement. They say they got nowhere. So, they contacted us.

When we called the Inn at Benicia Bay, a manager said the inn “did the best we could.” She said $3,800 isn’t a big enough budget to furnish a 32-person wedding reception with china, glassware, flatware, linens and hot food.

Later, an attorney for the inn wrote us and said, “The Inn at Benicia Bay fully performed its contractual obligations.” She said negative reviews that the Bennetts had posted on social media included “false and misleading accusations.”

We wanted to help settle the dispute. And we tried. But the two sides have chosen to let American Express handle it, since Mia paid with her Amex card.

 “A full refund is fair because you can’t redo it,” she said. ”That was our one wedding reception.”

The Bennetts told me part of the reason they called NBC Bay Area Responds is to educate others.

“We wanted our story told. We don’t want this to happen to other people,” Mia explained.

If they had it to do all over again, they’d spend a lot more time writing up the contract.

“Go over details,” JR advised. “Our contract is vague.”

They said be sure to nail down dos and don’ts. Be specific – especially if you’re particular about things like the china, stemware, utensils and such.

“It cannot be plastic; no plastic allowed,” J.R. said.  

“Add what it cannot be, just as much as what it should be,” his wife suggested.

The key point to remember from the Bennett reception is that when you sign a contract – even if it’s for a party – details matter. Get all the particulars in writing. Both sides should want the contract to be as clear as possible.

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