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Tampa Bay brides say they paid local florist thousands, but he never delivered wedding flowers

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Posted at 6:18 AM, Oct 25, 2021

TAMPA BAY — Newlywed Jacqueline Ruby envisioned a fairy tale wedding. Her search for the perfect floral designer led her to Jason Saunders, owner of Jason’s Creations Wedding & Event Floristry LLC.

“His name kept popping up everywhere every bridal shop was recommending him,” Ruby said.

According to her contract with Jason's Creations, Ruby agreed to pay the floral designer nearly $5,000 for her wedding flowers. Ruby told ABC Action News that Saunders wanted the bill paid in full, two months before her big day.

Bank records show Ruby paid Jason’s Creations most of the money before she began seeing other brides’ online complaints about Saunders and his company.

I-Team investigator Jackie Callaway found brides filed similar complaints with the Attorney General, The Better Business Bureau and consumer protection offices in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

A review of court records shows Jason Saunders is a convicted felon. In 2017, he pled guilty to dealing in stolen property and providing false information to a pawnbroker.

Several brides who contacted ABC Action News say Saunders used a mobile software application to request payments even after they say he stopped answering calls about their order.

Jason's Creations was located in downtown St. Petersburg until late 2020. Court documents reveal Saunders’ former business partner, Antonio Bell, filed suit against him in December 2020 for acting fraudulently and misappropriating funds. In August 2021, Jason Saunders filed for bankruptcy.

The attorney for Bell says he was a minority owner who handled administrative duties. Bell is classified as a victim in the lawsuit.

ABC Action News confirmed Saunders is currently working for a florist in Lynchburg, Virginia.

He responded to our messages in an emailed statement. In short, Saunders claims he’s worked with some brides to get their money back, but did not respond when we asked for the names of those brides. He also blames his former business partner for locking him out of the business account which he says forced him to miss weddings.

Below is Jason Saunders’ statement:

"It has been brought to my attention that you were investigating a story dealing with myself and Jasons Creations. I wanted to share some details with you as you asked what my side of the story was. Obviously, due to this being an ongoing (sic) battle I have been dealing with my ex-business partner, who happened to be my life partner/fiancé, I have to keep it minimal. In a nutshell, I was the creative force behind Jason’s Creations and 51% owner and my ex was the business side owner at 49%. He was the one who dealt with contracts, any monies received or refunded. All of my log-in credentials were changed, which originally they denied, but it came out in court, as well as his statement, that he did in fact change everything over so I couldn't (sic) access it any longer.  I cannot see any contracts or any info on any bride.  This resulted in missed weddings, which of course caused an uproar amongst many brides, rightfully so! The last words I heard were, “I’m going to watch your business Crash and burn” and that’s exactly what they did. There’s so much more to all of this that I would love to shout from the rooftops, (sic) but as I have been harassed, threatened, and told to watch what I say, this is the extent of what I am able to share when it comes to that. I provided an email to ANY bride who has reached out to me, for them to give their banks and credit card companies to reverse the funds, and everyone has thanked me and told me it worked. If there are more brides out there who had (sic) hired Jasons Creations, please allow them to reach out to you and you give them my email directly, versus plastering it on the news, so I can too provide them with this letter in hopes to gather any lost money. These accusations have been addressed in court in all attempts for the ex-partner to gain pretty much anything, and have all been dismissed and ruled in my favor. Meanwhile, everything that I have built and worked so hard for, any inventory that I owned, was told to the judge that it’s sitting in a storage unit that only they have a key to. I made the choice to leave Florida once my life was threatened and came to visit a sister and a childhood friend. Now almost 1 year later, the shop that I was helping out seasonally, (sic)  is still being harassed while I wasn’t even there.. All of the time and energy, along with money that was put into the new studio space in St Pete Fl, that we signed a lease on and paid for renovations, that was never opened.. My entire world changed in the matter of a couple of months due to again, things I just cannot discuss at this time. I will however say to everyone, I am extremely sorry that this happened, that I trusted the wrong person in my life and it resulted in this business closing. And again, if there are any brides that have contacted you and have not received a refund, please let me know so I can send this letter to hopefully help in any way. It’s extremely sad thinking about the years I put into growing my business, the passion that my clients saw when I would set their wedding up, the 5-star ratings I maintained by going above and beyond for my brides, to have it all come crashing down by something completely out of your control…This truly was a nightmare and again I apologize for my part in this but I also want to thank the brides who have continued to be supportive, forward the trash talking amongst the same few who are wanting to keep this messy, versus trying to help connect any lost bride to me in hopes for their refund.”

Veteran wedding planner Stephanie Voth, who is not connected to Jason's Creations, says many brides did not see signs of trouble until it was too late. Voth advises brides currently in the throes of wedding planning to:

  • Ask their wedding planner for a list of their trusted vendors
  • Pay by credit card if possible so you are protected in the event of trouble
  • Negotiate a smaller deposit and avoid paying in full months before the event

Several brides who contracted with Jason's Creations say they were forced to hire other vendors and pay for their flowers again after Saunders' business shut down.

Jacqueline Ruby just wants the extra $4,000 she had to spend on a second florist.

“You don't do that to a bride on the biggest day of their lives,” she said.

Consumers who feel they have been defrauded can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s fraud line 866-9NOSCAM, and or with local law enforcement.