Wedding planner goes missing with wedding gifts
Couple say wedding planner disappeared with $17,000 deposit and gifts a week before wedding
After dating for three years and saving for a year, they were finally ready to get married.
But a week before their big day, their wedding planner allegedly fled with a deposit of $17,000 and a tray full of wedding gifts which included shoes, wallets and watches.
Madam Syafiqah Salleh, 23, and Mr Jumali Majuri, 25, weren't the only ones allegedly cheated by the wedding planner - three other couples were also left in the lurch.
Newlyweds Syafiqah and Jumali engaged the services of Urbane Wedding Concept in September 2014 after visiting a bridal fair at the Singapore Expo.
The wedding planners, Madam Noorsidah A. Rahim and her husband, had suggested a package with a combined reception for about $22,000.
The couple agreed.
Madam Syafiqah, a process technician, told The New Paper that the first sign of trouble came when the invitation cards were sent out late.
She said: "It was scheduled to be out by last November but it was ready only on Dec 26, less than a month before our wedding.
"After they sent out the invitation cards, they also took the wedding gifts we bought for each other for gift-wrapping."
The wedding gifts, worth more than $1,000, were supposed to be ceremoniously exchanged between the bride and the groom.
On Jan 8, the couple were scheduled for their final fitting but their wedding planners didn't turn up.
Madam Syafiqah said: "One day before the fitting, I texted them to ask about the details of the fitting but I didn't receive any reply. I tried calling but no one picked up.
"At that point, I knew something was wrong. My husband called, texted, sent them Facebook messages and e-mailed them but they were gone without a trace."
In an attempt to retrieve their wedding gifts and deposit, Mr Jumali, a production technician, also went to the bridal company's registered address at 66, Tannery Lane.
It was vacant.
"I broke down. I worked a lot of overtime just to get the money and it was all gone," said Madam Syafiqah.
With a week left to the wedding, the couple's family contributed money and food to help out with last-minute preparations. They also engaged the services of A.R Ruhana Creations to help out with the food catering and decorations.
Mr Jumali said: "I left most of the decision making for the wedding to my wife. But when (this happened), I quickly engaged another bridal company because we didn't have time to waste."
The wedding ceremony was held at the void deck of Block 745, Jurong West Street 73, on Jan 17.
"I was so happy that the wedding turned out better than I expected. I am utterly grateful to my family and my husband," said Madam Syafiqah.
Another couple who were supposed to wed on the same day suffered the same fate.
Berita Harian reported on Feb 1 that Mr Husni Mubarak Kamaruddin, 27, and Madam Nurshila Mansoor, 26, had paid Urbane Wedding Concept $33,000 and handed over wedding gifts worth $2,800.
Like Madam Syafiqah, Mr Husni was also scheduled for a fitting on Jan 5 but the wedding planner did not show up.
The couple engaged another bridal company just a week before their big day to help out with final preparations.
Madam Syafiqah hopes the incident will be a lesson for other couples.
"It's hard to differentiate wedding planners whom you cannot trust from the ones you can," she said.
"But just be wary of the ones who are not punctual in fulfilling their promises."
Both couples have reported the matter to the police and the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).
Case told TNP it received three complaints - including from the two couples - about the company last month.
An online search with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority revealed that Urbane Wedding Concept was registered on Jan 9, 2012.
But its licence expired on Jan 9 this year. The status of the business was listed as "live".
When TNP visited the company's registered address at Sindo industrial building on Feb 2, the unit had already been occupied by another tenant. Other tenants occupying units on the same floor were not even aware that there was a bridal company in the building.
A security guard, who declined to be named, said the couple who ran the business had moved out from the unit about six months ago for unknown reasons.
Madam Noorsidah's flat at Bedok South also appeared to be vacant as flyers littered the gate.
A neighbour, who declined to be named, said he had not seen the couple for about two months.
"Just two weeks ago, there were four people knocking on my door, looking for them," he said.
"The couple don't usually mingle with the neighbours, so none of us know where they went."
I broke down. I worked a lot of overtime just to get the money and it was all gone.
- Madam Syafiqah Salleh, 23
Case: File a claim
Consumer Association of Singapore (Case) executive director Seah Seng Choon said customers can consider filing a claim against the business at the Small Claims Tribunals if their deposit has been paid and the business owner becomes uncontactable.
The business has to be listed as "live" on Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
"If the business owner fails to turn up for the consultation or hearing, or defaults against the court order, the consumer may engage a lawyer to enforce the order," said Mr Seah.
"If the consumer suspects fraud, he may want to report the matter to the police for investigation.
Consumers who are unsure about their options can approach Case for further advice and assistance."