Rebecca King was going down an aisle at Target when she learned of White Pines Resort’s plan to close and declare bankruptcy.
She sat down and cried in the aisle. She planned to have her wedding there on Sept. 26.
King and 50 other brides had to cancel weddings after Concessionaire Beth George made her decision last week due to COVID-19 business restriction impacts. George ran the resort for 31 years, hosting over 1,200 weddings.
“I was devastated,” King said. "For couples, just because of the sentiment that went into it and the business. A lot of things run through your head. The anxiety of being done planning and just having to wait to say I do and then getting thrown back into planning.”
King has moved her wedding to a venue near the quad cities where she lives. She had to cut down on guests and re-plan most of it with just a four month window.
Part of the reason she and her fiance, Colin DePrez, chose White Pines was its all-inclusive style with restaurant and cabins. Less planning had to be done. They also chose the resort initially due to its proximity for family and its scenery.
“I went to White Pines when I was a kid,” King, who grew up in Rockford, said. “Our dream wedding was Colorado. We love beautiful scenery and that’s something we connected on. White Pines was ideal for that and our families.”
Before White Pines Resort made its decision to close for good. King and DePrez thought their date was safe with COVID-19 threatening only summer weddings. After everything happened, they wanted to keep the same date due to the month being special to them and DePrez and many guests having limited schedule flexibility with careers in firefighting.
Having to schedule a new wedding did not harm the couple financially. Their new arrangements are cheaper and they received a full refund from White Pines Resort. George has been raising money to pay back the brides and guests before she enters bankruptcy.
A GoFundMe page has raised nearly $19,000 to help with those efforts. The resort attempted to hold a gift shop sale to raise additional money, but it was shut down by the conservation police due to the business being nonessential.
The inventory from that sale will be sold at Starved Rock Lodge and Conference center when it reopens on May 29. George says she now has enough money to pay all the brides and guests what she owes.
King decided to attend the gift shop sale Monday before it was shut down, but never made it inside.
“I wanted a memory of our dream wedding that was supposed to be,” King said. “It’s the marriage that matters, not the wedding. But we had dreams of it. If other brides read this, stay positive. Think out of the box and go with the flow.”