I’d very much like to discourage anyone in the Southern California area from using Sanya Mitrovic, of Venues in Paradise for their upcoming wedding nuptuals. My wife and I have had the unfortunate displeasure of working with Sanya during our year long planning of our wedding. To say she had been a nightmare to work with is a drastic understatement. Sit back and allow me to walk you through our wedding planning nightmare that seemed to never end.
It all began roughly a year ago when my fiancé at the time (now wife) and I decided we wanted to have our wedding at an Orange County estate, take the ceremony/reception outside of the typical ballroom and do something different. In doing some internet research we came across Venues in Paradise, which specializes in estate weddings around OC/LA countys.
We set up a time to view Las Palmas Mansion, located in Laguna Hills, CA with Sanya. A gorgeous estate that could easily fit our guestlist, we were immediately sold on Las Palmas. We did have a few reservations, one major one being the neighborhood and how the neighbors react to the wedding “atmosphere”. Sanya confidently assured us that the neighbors do not mind, that they are compensated for any troubles (along the lines of loud music), that we can have our reception end at midnight (a huge plus for us), and that they only do 5 weddings per year there, so it wasn’t an overbearance to the neighbors. After doing some other research we came back to the first place we viewed and put our deposit down for Las Palmas…Here is where the friendly customer service atmosphere ended and our planning nightmare began.
Venues in Paradise uses certain vendors for their events, which was fine by us. The food and floral arrangements were through their own vendors. We simply had to meet with each representative and discuss what we wanted (within the budget we were given for the package we booked). Sanya agreed to 3 meetings during our planning.
Our 1st meeting with Sanya was with the florist. We had a budget of $2,000 for floral arrangements through our package and anything over we agreed to pay the difference. Sanya met us at the florist’s shop about 40 minutes late for our appointment (this would become a theme, how late would Sanya show up for EVERYTHING). Once she got there, we had already started and we caught her up on our selections. The entire time Sanya was there, she was on her phone texting/emailing and rarely looked up to see what we were choosing. She would offer little feedback other than “That looks nice”. After our meeting was done, Sanya sent us the invoice for the floral arrangements, which was roughly $4,000 total! THE ENTIRE TIME WE WERE THERE, NEVER ONCE DID SHE SAY WE WERE APPROACHING OR EXCEEDED OUR BUDGET! She would just smile and nod, and never discussed prices or flowers with us. So now we had to go back and rearrange all of our vision because she couldn’t look up from her texting/emailing to keep us in check. We would have had no problem revising things right then and there, but to see it in an invoice 6 weeks later was very disappointing.
Next we had our food tasting, which Sanya did not attend. Sanya told us that all of the food we could choose from was part of our package. After going through the tasting and choosing our appetizers/meals, we receive another invoice from Sanya stating that the Filet we chose was an upgrade and we would have to pay the difference…Why did you have the caterer bring it out if it wasn’t part of our package?! We ended up disputing that with her for weeks on end because she told us it was part of our package and we already ordered the invitations with the meal choices printed on them. She finally agreed to the “upgrade” for no additional cost.
Then we met Sanya (who decided to bring her mother and infant son) to our meeting with our equipment/table rentals to discuss set up and linens, etc. Again, Sanya showed up roughly 30 minutes late and breast fed the entire time! To say it was a bit awkward is putting it lightly. Good thing with the rental place though as there were no hidden charges with her.
Moving along during the year, Sanya became increasingly difficult to get ahold of. She would rarely call my wife or me back and would respond to emails days later. There was a point during the planning where I had to call Sanya and leave a voicemail threatening legal action (I took up advice from an attorney) if she did not call me back because she was not responding to any of our phone calls or emails. Later that day she emailed me back (still waiting for the phone call back). Getting a hold of Sanya in a timely fashion when you are trying to order and plan things was very difficult.
As the planning days ticked by, Sanya would again dispute menu options, though this time we had her because she put in writing that we were getting the menu at no additional cost. From that point on we aksed for EVERYTHING in writing for fear of her coming back at a later date and saying something different. She always tried to paint the picture that she was doing us a favor with costs but it was my wife who phoned the florist and caterer directly to “negotiate” with them. Sanya did little to help us, just caused more tension.
Here’s where it gets really fun. About 3 weeks before our wedding day, my wife emailed Sanya to discuss our wedding timeline. Sanya wrote back and said let’s meet up to discuss the timeline (Which she then made my wife do ALL BY HERSELF). During that meeting Sanya tells us that a few weeks before the Laguna Hills Police were called by the neighbors of Las Palmas to shut down the wedding and music at 10pm.That they were in violation of city ordinance. She tells us right there that we either need to move our wedding to the daytime, end it earlier, or find a new venue! MIND YOU SHE KNEW ABOUT THIS WEEKS BEFORE!!! You would think she would have called us with this urgent news! No, she waited until we emailed her to tell us. We were heartbroken as we wanted a night wedding and also loved the venue. We couldn’t believe she was telling us this 3 weeks before the wedding. We had family coming in from in/out of the country who were already traveling. Sanya suggested we use one of her other estates. We set up a time to look at it and liked it, didn’t love it, but liked it. It was entirely different from the Las Palmas Mansion. It would be inside now, totally different color schemes, and the reception room was much smaller so we now had to sit a few tables outside while others sat inside! We were so embarrassed but we had few options. After she shows us the contingency plan (she showed up 30 minutes late to the apt.), she then says she needs to make sure she can get the estate that day…shouldn’t you have checked that out before offering it up as a solution! We waited another 2 days, got the approval from the owners and now had to send out new notifications that our venue has changed. This new venue was further away for our out-of-town guests staying at the hotel block we booked and a complete different vision then what we originally chose. Through this whole process we became so tired and frustrated with arguing with her we just let it be at that point.
We finally get to the rehearsal, 2 days before the wedding and we are all standing outside the estate while we wait for Sanya to arrive, 25 minutes after the scheduled 5pm time, she showed up. The walkthrough for the ceremony rehearsal was anarchy to say the least and Sanya had no control. Yes, we had a large wedding party, with nieces/nephews who were younger involved as well and Sanya had no control over how the ceremony would proceed. Yes we would ask questions and she became very whimsical about the process, just kind of trusting things would work out the day of. It was complete chaos with each rehearsal being different than the time before. Finally, thank goodness we had one of our bridesmaids there who is a wedding coordinator take charge of the group while Sanya stood off in the background, not helping at all.
Two days before the wedding my wife gets a text from Sanya that the tables we chose do NOT fit inside the room of the new venue and we would have to rearrange the tables (order long ones instead of round), and line them up in a completely different order. So the day before the wedding we were redoing everyones seating arrangements and now had to reprint place cards! I said the new arrangement looked like a school cafeteria, with just rows of tables, but a day before the wedding there was little we could do. My wife was in tears finally at this point…she broke. She had to stay home all day with her sister and redo table arrangments while I entertained out-of-town guests. Sanya had been a terror and it was still going to get worse…
Our wedding day arrived and Sanya we no where to be found during the entire reception. We put a lot of time/effort into our entertainment (mariachi band during cocktail hour, and a band/DJ alternating during reception). Because of all of the entertainment, the timeline needed to be followed strictly…she just let it get away. We started a few minutes late and we found time after the ceremony during the reception to cut in order to get back on track. All Sanya needed to do was tell the DJ we were cutting 30 min of dancng before dinner and to instead go right to dinner…she couldn’t remember to do that! The DJ followed the timeline we gave him and went into music after our first dance. After about 20 min I found Sanya and asked her why we didn’t cut this to catch up and she said “we forgot to tell the DJ the new plan”…no YOU forgot to tell the DJ!!! We had to cut our band’s setlist by a full 40 minutes because we couldn’t find Sanya during the reception to do the cake cutting. For the amount of money we paid for this band, I wanted the full experience! But we lost so much time because Sanya could not handle the transtions of the ceremony and was MIA. My wife and I were having to make way too many decisions that night even though she was the one who was supposed to be coordinating. Even the bridesmaids were put to work by Sanya although they were obviously not being paid to do so!
Finally towards the end of the reception her husband (who is in charge of security) pulled me aside with about 30 min left in the night and says I need to clean out the groomsmen room right now because it will lock at midnight. Dude, it’s my wedding! Can you let me enjoy the last 30 minutes and I will do it at midnight?!...No. Sanya’s husband I came to find out was very rude to our guests, my sister-in-law in particular. He was very short and aggressive with the guests (I learned this the next day). So I had to leave the reception to go clean out the groomsmen room before it locked at midnight. I was able to catch the last 10 minutes or so of the party.
I apologize for this post being so long, but I wanted to give you the reader a taste of what we had to endure with Sanya and Venues in Paradise for this past year. I never have been treated so unprofessionally and rudely by a company. They lack the class, drive, and professional atmosphere to coordinate weddings the way couples want them to be. I am in the process of filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but there’s not much else I can do other than express our thoughts to everyone who may consider Venues in Paradise for their wedding. For all of the money we paid, you would think we would get top notch service. This was not the case at all. Our wedding planning experience is one we wish to forget and we hope others out there will not make the same mistake.
Venues In Paradise: The Perfect Combination Of Luxury Resort Decadence & Private Estate Charm
Escape the ordinary! We specialize in turn-key weddings at Southern California’s exclusive private estates.
Your privacy and time are highly valued. Hosting only one event per weekend and without the peering eyes of hotel/club guests assures perfection and world class service.
We take your vision of event in paradise and make it your reality...complete with stunning photos & memories to last a lifetime.
Visit us at www.VenuesInParadise.com for our portfolio of private & exclusive venues.
About Villa d’Este: Italian Renaissance… Captured In Its Truest Form
The winding cobblestone driveway and abundance of rosebushes at the entrance is charming, albeit somewhat unassuming. But when the perfectly aged, 12-foot arched wooden doors open to reveal a Venetian-style ballroom with cut marble mosaic flooring and Austrian crystal chandeliers, you soon realize that nothing is as it appears at Villa d'Este.
Stepping foot inside the 18,000-square-foot villa grand entranceway, you are immediately transported back in time...into an Italian Renaissance era fantasy Villa. Its grand palace, gardens, and water features (pools, fountains, ornamental basins, etc.) serve to create this truly unique venue, an Italian 16th-century Villa masterpiece replica here in south Orange County, CA.
Wedding couple and guests will revel in the photo ops that abound at Villa d'Este. The grounds are fashioned with several Italian-inspired gardens, loggias, marble pathways, fountains, statues and lily ponds which showcase the stunning pool, spa and rock grottos, pool house, fire pits and "al fresco lounge" areas. The outdoor ambiance lends luxe entertaining from the pool and fountain pavilion grotto and dining areas.
The artwork, artifacts and furnishings, which were collected worldwide, include furniture from the Vatican. The gallery entry has 26 hand-picked original paintings inspired by the masters.
Following Italian tradition, Villa d'Este has its own chapel situated among fruit trees and roses. It is authentically designed with custom-made pews, gold- and silver-flake 7-layer textured walls, and grand marble altar representing motifs of Italian Renaissance.
The flagship and newest venue at Venues in Paradise, Villa d'Este is truly unrivaled along California's coastal venues, and is an extraordinary culmination of romantic vision, passion and Italian tradition. For those who demand perfection, and nothing less, Villa d'Este affords you and your guests the perfect combination of luxury resort-hotel decadence, with three stunning venues in one. From an intimate ceremony in the chapel, to the gardens and fountains for cocktails and dining, to the Grand Venetian Ballroom for dancing into the late hours, Villa d'Este will accommodate the most discriminate clientele.