A young bride-to-be whose sweetheart died two weeks before their big day was told by two wedding suppliers: 'No refunds'
12:22 GMT, 23 August 2012
Debbie Smith had planned a fairy-tale wedding, but instead of the 25,000 ceremony she had
dreamed of, she walked down the aisle in a funeral procession at the
church she and her husband were due to marry in the next day.
The 24-year-old from Southport lost fiance Matthew Cottrell in June when the 24-year-old soldier was hit by a coach in Dorset after a night out with Army friends.
She was still grieving his death when she asked Southport wedding photographer Adam Peter Thorpe for a return of 2,000 the couple paid for him to capture the special day.
Debbie, a tragic bride-to-be lost her husband on his stag night and now wants her money back for her wedding dress
Debbie lost the love of her life in June when he was hit by a bus, they had planned their dream wedding together
He refused to pay up until pressure from other sources secured a partial refund.
And Lancashire wedding dress company, The Bridal Gallery Group, today maintained it would not refund her 2,500 unused designer gown because it was 'made-to-measure'.
Debbie deeply regrets not fully insuring her wedding and said she has learned a valuable lesson.
She took a policy that covered 6,000 but saw the cost of her big day balloon to 25,000 – leaving her well short.
'I never thought I would need it,' she admitted.
Wedding insurance usually costs
between 50 and 100 and covers if you have to postpone the big day for a
host of reasons or if a supplier goes bust.
She said: 'Matthew and I paid everything in full, it was going to be quite a big wedding.
'It would have been amazing. The vast majority of suppliers have been fantastic given what happened. They completely understand and have given me the money back.
Debbie was due to walk down the aisle with her husband-to-be but instead had to don her black outfit for his tragic funeral
'But the dressmaker and the photographer has been a different story.
'It was a designer dress but they won’t take it back, they’ve told me to sell it myself. I just want to get rid of it. It was the perfect dress but now it’s tainted. I don’t ever want to see it again.
Matthew Cottrell was killed by a coach whilst celebrating with his fellow army friends
'With the photographer, I signed a contract and he was within his rights to keep the money. But given the circumstances I thought there might be some compassion.'
After being contacted, Mr Thorpe initially said that although the situation was 'desperately sad', a contract was signed that meant refunds 'could not be issued for late cancellations'. But he later said that he wanted to speak to Debbie and make an offer of a partial refund.
Mr Thorpe confirmed: 'I will be making a payment back to her today.'
Eric Stables, from The Bridal Gallery Group, said a refund of Debbie’s veil and underskirt had been made but that he could not refund a 'made to measure dress with extensive alterations'.
Hollywood Dream, the dressmaker, refused to take it back.
Mr Stables said: 'Normally we would look at it but the size is so unique to this bride that potential purchasers would be very few and far between.
'We could put it with our ex-sample dresses within our shop and on our website at a price set by Debbie and if it sells we will pass the proceeds in full to her, but it may take quite a while to move on.'