A COUPLE’S dream wedding was snatched away when their reservation at South Parade Pier was lost – and a punk rock festival was booked instead.
John Smith and Tracy Keysell were set to hold their reception in the Southsea landmark’s ballroom in June this year, but now their special day has been plunged into disarray.
Even though they placed their booking in March last year – and were careful to confirm it and leave a deposit in September – it was only by chance that Mr Smith discovered the new management would not be honouring the agreement.
‘I just popped in because I was in the area, and the new manager said they had no record at all of our booking,’ said 45-year-old Mr Smith, from Southsea. ‘And he told me that a rock concert had been booked for the same night and that would bring in more money anyway.
‘I was just gobsmacked; we have already sent out invitations and invited more than 300 people. I don’t know if we’ll find another venue that big at short notice, and it would be awful to have to tell people they can’t come.’
Mr Smith said they chose the iconic pier for their wedding because it was good value, and he and his partner knew people who used to work there.
He said: ‘When we booked they were adamant that it would all be fine, we were told we didn’t even have to leave a deposit.
‘But we just wanted to be sure, so in September I stopped in and left £100 to make sure it was ours, and after that I thought no more about it.
‘I can’t believe no-one even called to let us know, we are in a really tight spot now and could end up paying a lot more to get somewhere else in June.
‘And what if we hadn’t checked? We would have called up the week before our wedding and it would have been a total disaster.’
A former pier employee – who did not want to be identified – said there had definitely been a record of the booking before the pier changed hands in the summer.
‘It was written in the diary with all the other events,’ they said. ‘So I’m surprised to hear it’s not there now. I’ve got no idea what happened to it.’
Current manager at the pier, Daniel Martin, blamed the previous people in charge for the confusion, and said that when he took over the complex in December there was no record of a wedding in June.
He said: ‘We did have a £100 deposit but no information about who it belonged to, and no contract agreement to confirm the booking.
‘The only wedding we have listed is one in May, and unfortunately I have already booked another event on the day Mr Smith wants, which I do have a valid contract for.
‘It sounds like the fault is with Six Piers, the company who used to own the pier, for not recording the booking properly.’