Bride-to-be Rachel Montague-Ebbs was shocked when the owner of the prestigious barn where she hoped to be married in May emailed to warn her that her wedding might have be cancelled.
A week later it was cancelled.
Rachel, 33, who lives in Wadhurst, told the Times: “I was in the gym in Tunbridge Wells when I got an email from the owner of the wedding venue, Mr Bob Camping, which started with ‘This letter is extremely hard to write…’ I immediately sat down on the floor and said ‘Oh God!’
“We were due to get married on May 28,” explained Rachel. “To my shock it said that due to licensing issues he couldn’t guarantee any weddings after April 10. He said there was a licensing hearing on January 28 and advised us not to do anything till then.
“He also said at this time he could not afford to pay back any deposits. We had paid £2,840. He added that he was putting everything on the market, and if he could he intended to repay the deposits once the bank and Inland Revenue had been paid.
“I crumpled, I couldn’t believe it, and when the shock wore off I couldn’t stop crying. It’s like the rug has been pulled out from under you and you think ‘Oh no, I’m not going to have a wedding!’”
Rachel and her fiance, Steven Letham, 32, were one of about 50 couples due to be married at the East Hampshire venue. Mr Letham works for the BBC and lives in Surrey.
“We looked up the licensing and there were a lot of complaints from villagers about noise and drunken behaviour,” said Rachel.
On January 28, Mr Camping’s premises licence was revoked by East Hampshire District Council.
The Manor Barn in Buriton was Rachel and Steven’s dream venue. But there is a happy ending. Luckily the couple had taken out insurance.
“The wedding insurance was the best £100 I have ever spent,” said Rachel. “But they would only pay out if he cancelled, not us, so we went through an awful period of uncertainty. Others were not so lucky.”
After receiving that first email on January 13, Rachel – who writes the fashion blog Lady M Presents and has just launched a business consultancy – ignored the request to wait until January 28 and reorganised her wedding in a single morning.
“I am very organised,” she said. “After a sleepless night I asked my boss for the morning off to sort it out. In the space of three hours I rebooked the whole wedding at a new venue!
“When we were looking for the Manor Barn we happened on another gorgeous wedding barn by mistake, and now we are getting married there instead.
“We have been very lucky indeed. Hopefully this will serve as a warning to all those couples getting married – take out wedding insurance.”
A word of advice from bride-to-be Rachel to others getting married:
- Check out who owns the wedding venue and how long they have had it
- Find out if they have all the appropriate licences and for how long
- Take out wedding insurance before paying deposits
- Pay absolutely everything by credit card for added cover (over a certain amount)
- Make sure your guests do the same