It’s wedding season again. With that, I will begin a series of service/product/vendor reviews that we utilized for our wedding. I’ve been considering this for awhile now, and I’ve decided to start with the worst and go up from there.
With this particular review, I sincerely ask only 2 things from you: 1) Please read this in its entirety and 2) Please, share this. If I can keep just 1 person from the misery that we endured here, it will be completely worthwhile!
You might be asking yourself: Why have you waited so long to do this review? Well, speaking the truth – The review is so negative and the woman is sooooo vindictive that I have been a bit fearful of the repercussions of a negative review. She still has our friends/families credit card info and I am worried about what she might do at this point. But then I realized, thats EXACTLY why I need to do this review.
This review is about Panther Creek Cabins, in Cherokee, NC. I honestly do not even know where to begin. From the beginning, I guess.
We were so excited to get married. We really wanted to do a combined trip/wedding since no matter where we were, people were going to have to travel. We were on a very tight budget for everything, so we could not afford the usual destination wedding locations. We found ourselves in a situation where we were going to be visiting the USA and so we decided, wouldn’t it be fun to get married there! And so we set about planning.
When we found our way to the Panther Creek Cabins website, it looked perfect. The mountain scenery, Cherokee has always been a lovely get-away and the people there are so nice! Not to mention, between ourselves and our guests, we could afford it. The website said that they can perform weddings on-site, they have a honeymoon cabin included, and we had the possibility to rent the entire place for the weekend.
We emailed them immediately. Miriam Blakely is the one who responded. Apparently, her and her husband are the owners. This is the woman, with whom we had all of our dealings. Please keep in mind that we had to do a lot of trusting- as we are overseas and were unable to personally supervise things until we arrived for our wedding.
Mrs. Blakely assured us that we could rent the entire place, put as many people as we needed to into the cabins, that they could be paid at a per person rate or however we divided it – so long as the final bill was equal to the contract. She also assured us that she would perform our wedding (as we DID pay her for the basic service $200 alone for her to perform the nuptials – anything else was extra. See blanket, vase, etc. As stated in the contract). We spent a great deal of time emailing, finding out what we needed (licenses, paperwork, etc.). We needed to make sure we had everything done perfectly, as we were all flying halfway around the world to get married there. We had several discussions regarding religion. It became quite obvious that her religious beliefs were of a very strict variety. We were honest in that our beliefs did not fall into line with her own. She accepted that and agreed to perform the wedding. This was 8 months before the Big Day.
After that, things started to get weird. I would receive rambling emails at 2-3 in the morning her time, telling me to ‘calm down’ and not to be ‘a bridezilla’. I took it as maybe context got lost via email, and tried not to worry about it. I can tell you that these bridezilla emails were in response to me trying to get the headcount per cabin correct before we found ourselves with too many people, and too few sleeping places. Not unreasonable, in my mind.
Then, when people began to pay, things started to get nasty. Either A) she would send me a list of people who still needed to pay (at least 3 times, this list had someone on it who had already paid & reserved) or B) Suddenly we would owe her MUCH more than stated on the contract which she provided. We had a few exchanges over this. I finally came to point of frustration where I reminded her that my profession is International business. I am quite capable of determining the price when I’m looking at a contract with a price, a 10% discount and applicable taxes. Mrs. Blakely caused such an uproar, that we decided to pay the remaining balance for the place, and let our guests pay us back for their part.
This is when things get criminal. She demanded $2,000 over the contractual pricing which she provided! My poor mother was so ready to be done with us and give us a good day, that she contacted her and tried to talk her down. Just to be bullied into paying $1,000 over the agreed upon price! (You see, we already had all our tickets, and apparently she was threatened with our removal from the premises) Oh, but it gets better. The next day she woke to an alert on her credit card. Apparently this woman had run her credit card for 3 different transactions = more then $1800 over the agreed upon price! The last transaction was for the $800. She got in touch with her credit card company and they have a fraud count on Mrs. Blakely now. This was the week we left for the States. So you can imagine, how our excitement over the wedding had turned to sheer dread. I cannot thank her properly for ruining one of our most exciting times of our lives. I told her then that I was a blogger and would be posting reviews for the wedding. To shape up, or people would know. Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say.
I am so fortunate to have had a really wonderful wedding planner who ran interference for us as much as she could. Her and her husband actually found themselves doing a lot ‘repair work’ to help camouflage the problems.
Then the thinly veiled threats started. Mainly towards my mom. Whenever we didn’t go along with whatever fancy she was having at the moment, Mrs. Blakely would remind her that she always carries her gun. Apparently, she made one gentleman so angry, that he told her he wanted to punch her. (Not in our group) So she pulled out her gun. We were like ‘Hooooolllyyy shit….this is woman who’s going to marry us?!’ We were concerned about the legality of the marriage (on an international level. They do have very strict requirements for transferring a legal marriage here.) So we made sure that one of our guests had the legal right to marry us there, just in case things went weird. I cannot tell you how fortunate we were to have him there!
When we arrived to check out the cottages & grounds before the weekend, the first thing she did was insult my husband. Luckily, he just kept his mouth shut & smiled. The place was booked, the tent was coming in, this was happening… She walked us around the property. Explaining that this grass will be cut the day the tent comes in, the bushes will be trimmed and pretty, how to work with the keys and those kinds of things.
Imagine our surprise a few days later when we arrive the day before our wedding. On my way to the mountains, I received a email from Mrs. Blakely and a call from our friend who had just been told, that she would not be performing our wedding due to religious differences. I couldn’t believe it! 8 months. 8 months earlier, we had this discussion with her. 8 months ago, she agreed to marry us. 8 MONTHS! And now she’s acting like it just occurred to her?! HOW DARE YOU! I had a fit. I provided her with copies of all emails in which we had discussed this. She did not care. Fortunately, I had about 45 minutes remaining in the car ride to figure out something. I spoke to our friend who could marry us. I spoke (ok, cried) to our wedding planner – who got right on the phone and contacted the only person in Cherokee who is actually able to perform the Cherokee ceremony. (Funny thing about panic, you find out so much in such a short period of time) Apparently, Mrs. Blakely is breaking the rules by performing Cherokee ceremonies. I put a lot of faith into our wedding planner and our friend. They really made it wonderful for us throughout the whole thing! We decided not to tell people that she had waited until the last few hours to pull out of the wedding, but instead we wanted everyone to enjoy the weekend. But we were screaming inside!
Once my heart finally began to beat normally again, we arrived at the venue. Another surprise. The grass was overgrown where the reception tent (& games area) would be, the bushes had not only been groomed, but cut down to only sticks! I’m not kidding, here’s the pic! This is only 1 small area, but all the bushes were like this.
*Our photographer did his best not to get them in the pictures, so this is the only evidence of what those (formerly beautiful) bushes looked like all over the property, when we got married. We used them as hola-hoop stands.
As for the uncut grass; If it were just slightly grown, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue. However, it was high enough that my new husband got to witness first-hand, a copperhead slither right past his feet. This is where we had games for the kids! NOT OK!
Despite Mrs. Blakely’s best efforts, we did have a wonderful wedding. Even without our gun-toting, destroyer of weddings. Our wedding planner enrolled her entire family to get us going and they did so much work! Even having the one man who can perform the ceremony, send exactly the ceremony to our friend so that he could perform as much as he was allowed, without the things that needed a certain blessing. And they did an amazing job!
Mrs. Blakely has since flatly refused to give us any kind of refund. She will not return even the $200 which we paid her to perform the service that she cancelled. I have all the emails to prove it. Including the final one where she asked my mother for her address (about 5 months ago) and we are still waiting for her post to arrive.
I have never in my life met anyone so hateful, vindictive and selfish and to go to such lengths to ruin a persons wedding. Especially not in the service industry! This woman didn’t care that 50+ people had travelled from all corners of the globe to patronize her establishment for a weekend. No. She just wanted to make a point. What point, I’m unsure. But she made one and we will NEVER go back to Panther Creek Cabins again!
Luckily, the site of our actual wedding is off the property, so we can visit there.
I do feel the need to emphasize that we have found out that this woman is not Cherokee. She is, in fact, from Florida. She claims Cuban & Italian heritage, so it seems she is just playing dress-up there. The people of Cherokee have always been some of the kindest, most helpful people you will ever meet. My husband and I were so surprised because so many people of the Cherokee nation came out to help us in this awful situation. Not because we had anything to offer, but because we needed it & they were there for us – in force! So please, although I hope that this will open your eyes to this establishment and the woman who is running it – please do not let this review shine a negative light on Cherokee. They have done nothing but try to help us in any way possible, and for that, we are eternally grateful!
As for me, I want to press charges. I want this woman nailed with everything she has done to us! We cannot take back our wedding day. If there is anyone here who may be able to offer some advice on this matter, please contact us!
Thank you for reading & please, please share this