'To have to tell my fiancée on Valentine’s Day was horrific' - venue's sale leaves couple's wedding day in ruins (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Harpenden House Hotel's sale leaves couple's wedding day in ruins
With only eight weeks until their big day, a couple planning to get married in Harpenden House Hotel were given the "horrific" news that the venue was being sold.
Hotel staff telephoned Gary Pitts, from Biggleswade, on Valentine’s Day to inform him that he would need a new venue for his wedding, due to be held on April 17.
The 31-year-old and his fiancée Stefanie, 32, were then left with the task of rearranging almost all of their plans with only two months to go.
Mr Pitts said: "I was at work and I got a phone call at about 2pm from the events planner saying the hotel was closing and that they were unable to stage our wedding.
"It’s the kind of thing you never anticipate hearing. We had sent the invites, guests had booked rooms, we’d even done the wedding tasting.
'She just burst into tears'
"The meals, the DJ, chair covers, everything was arranged. They must have known when they were taking our booking.
"I’m in shock with the whole situation. To have to tell my fiancé on Valentine’s Day was absolutely horrific. She just burst into tears."
Mr Pitts said he and his fiancé fell in love with the Harpenden hotel’s painted ceilings and Edwardian features, as well as the option to host the ceremony, dinner and reception there.
They booked the venue with a year to go and then set about arranging the rest of their perfect day.
He said: "My fiancé and I had been joking because everyone moans how stressful a wedding is and ours hadn’t been. Everything was nice and straight forward."
Mr Pitts said he was able to secure a new booking at Sopwell House in St Albans over the weekend, although "at a significant increase in cost".
He said: "All in all it’s going to cost an extra £1,500. You budget an amount for the wedding and we knew how much we were going to spend. If it was a £50 increase you would take the hit.
"I’m trying to claim compensation back as they have a signed contract with me from May last year. We have wedding insurance so I’m trying to find out whether that covers us.
"As long as I’ve got Stephanie beside me, with all of our family I don’t care where it is. It’s her day and I want her to be happy."
Kath Webster-Brown, general manager or Harpenden House Hotel, sent the following statement from Fairview New Homes Limited.
"Fairview New Homes Limited has unconditionally exchanged contracts to acquire the Harpenden House Hotel. Completion of the purchase will take place on 3rd April 2014.
"The current owners and occupiers are responsible for providing vacant possession of the hotel prior to Fairview acquiring the freehold. The hotel will be winding down its operation between now and completion.
"While we continue to operate the hotel and up until its closure date, we will endeavour to offer our guests the highest standards of hospitality and care and work with those future guests that this effects to ensure that any disruption and concern is kept to a minimum."
Staff at Luton Hoo Hotel said they were working with couples who could no longer get married at Harpenden House Hotel, and where possible would honour existing contracts.
Have you arranged a wedding or event at the hotel? Telephone the newsdesk on 01923 216372.