Plainfield wedding planner offers advice to couples in wake of fire at The Haley Mansion

The cause of the fire at the historic Joliet mansion is under investigation.

Amy Haller of Joliet (right) and her fiancé Craig McNeil of Joliet take a selfie in front of the historic Haley Mansion in Joliet in October 2022, the mansion where they are planning to host their wedding in November 2023.

Amy Haller of Joliet said she and her fiancé wanted to get married only at The Haley Mansion in Joliet.

“I’m born and raised in Joliet. My fiancé was born in raised in Joliet. My dad walked past [The Haley Mansion] when he went to school,” Haller said. “For a Joliet family, I felt that was the perfect place to get married. It’s a gem for the city.”

But after Wednesday’s fire, Haller is worried The Haley Mansion won’t be available for her wedding Nov. 17. But she’s hopeful since the event is still 10 months away.

“I feel awful for the people that are having their wedding in the next month or so. How awful is that?” Haller said. “At the end of the day, I’m just trying to put myself into their shoes. … I’m hoping the owner and the people in the city of Joliet will take notice and, hopefully, try to do what they can to get it back on its feet. It’s a great venue for people.”

Anyone who booked a wedding at The Haley Mansion needs to do two things immediately, said Qiana Turner, wedding planner and owner of Madison Elyse Events in Plainfield.

Qiana Turner is the owner of Madison Elyse Events in Plainfield, a wedding planning service. Turner offered suggestions to couples affected by Wednesday's fire at The Halen Mansion in Joliet.

The first is contact the Patrick Haley Mansion and arrange for getting their money back. The second is to make phone calls to other venues that might be available.

This is where a wedding planner can still help, even if a couple hasn’t used wedding planner services in its original planning, Turner said, because it’s possible to find options, even when timing is tight.

“Couples are panicking and wondering, ‘What are the next steps?’ It gets a little overwhelming,” Turner said. “So they reach out to a wedding planner to help them in the effort of finding a venue.”

Turner said she found several venue options for one couple three days before its wedding when the first venue didn’t offer the most optimal inside alternative in case of rain.

In the case of unforeseen circumstances, such as Wednesday’s fire at The Haley Mansion, people in the wedding industry often are eager to help.

“None of us want to see your wedding ruined because of unforeseen circumstances,” Turner said. “We do everything we can to take the overwhelming stress off the couple and give them the best wedding day we possible can.”

Turner said she advises couples to invest in wedding insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes venue owners can’t return a couple’s money immediately due to legal issues or even bankruptcy, she said.

But in the meantime, the couple still needs to find – and pay for – alternatives, Turner said. With wedding insurance, the couple can “file a claim and get their money back,” she said.

These are reasons why a wedding planner is one of the best assets for a couple, Turner said.

When helping couples plan weddings, Turner said she and the couples “go with the thought process that nothing is going to happen.”

Yet if plans fail, good wedding planners “immediately take action,” Turner said.

“We use our resources as backup,” Turner said. “If the wedding is imminent, then I’d make a conscious effort to make as many phone calls as I can to find the couple a new venue.”

Turner said quite a few couples dealt with the unexpected during COVID-19, more than Turner’s experienced in her 11 years in the wedding industry and five years as owner of Madison Elyse Events.

“A venue may have gone bankrupt or the caterer went out of business,” Turner said. “Or the photographer got sick or someone got sick and was unable to perform the service. It happened more during the pandemic than I’ve ever seen.”