A Miami couple who hoped to make their dream wedding a reality instead saw it become a nightmare, and they say the venue's to blame.
“And then they told us,” said bride Ely, “the options were to have it in the sandwich shop, in the basement or in the lobby.”
“Words can't explain, I went through so many emotions, I cried, I yelled, I just didn't know what to do,” said flabbergasted groom Max.
In truth, the hotel was informed ten days earlier, when the Miami Beach fire inspectors shut down the hotel ballrooms. Yet the Lippmans say the hotel management did not tell them until it was too late to move the wedding and the scores of guests to another hotel.
Lippman says the hotel tried to blame it on the city’s failure to free up an inspector to come certify the improvements. But, in fact, NBC Miami has learned fire inspectors went to the hotel several times just prior to the July 10th wedding, including the day before the wedding itself, and failed the hotel every time.
The city said it ordered the hotel not to hold any event in any ballroom on June 30. Yet the hotel helped the Lippman’s wedding rehearsal two days before the wedding, July 8, in the same ballroom, the Lippmans claim. The large, red violation poster put up by fire inspectors had, according to the Lippmans, been covered by an advertisement for the sandwich shop.
“They covered it up,” said Max. “Literally.”
Miami Beach fire officials say they will now investigate that allegation.
Hotel management declined to comment today, saying the person authorized to speak was not available.
And so, right there amid the lobby couches and hotel guests they didn't even know, the Lippman's had their ceremony. Video shows the lobby grew very hot and overcrowded.
The hotel put up a lot of fancy stuff to cover up the fact that it was in the lobby. But it was still in the lobby.
“We're livid,” said Ely, a month after the event. “Our friends didn't even get to hear our vows because the acoustics were so bad in the lobby. Obviously, people were rolling their luggage and checking into the hotel right next to where we were getting married.”
Even her official photo, as beautiful as it is, shows a bellhop in the distant background.
And the reception? It was held in the sandwich shop in the basement.
The Lippmans demanded their money back but the hotel, they say, refused. The Lippmans were able to stop payment on the third of three $9,000 payments to the hotel. The Lippmans said the hotel did not agree even to a discounted price.
The Deauville Hotel, in the 6000 block of Collins Avenue, was built generations ago and has had a legendary run, peaking in 1964 when The Beatles performed for Ed Sullivan, live from the Deauville ballroom.
A recent renovation has not stopped the Deauville's precipitous slide.
City of Miami Beach authorities say the code and fire safety violations and fines are so immense that the hotel has been ordered not to hold any large events, and no use of any main rooms. Miami Beach Assistant City Manager Jorge Gomez said if the hotel doesn’t rectify all the problems by the end of August, the city might begin the process of closing down the hotel.
As lovely as the wedding video and photos seem, and as touching as the ceremony was, Ely Lippman just wants her wedding day back.
“It was the most important day of our lives, and were never going to get it back," she said. "They've done nothing to make it better. They haven't apologized, they won't even return our phone calls.”