Distraught wedding couple hit by Harrogate St George Hotel closure

A distraught Knaresborough couple who work in the NHS whose wedding plans have been ruined by the collapse of a national hotel and holiday chain say their "hearts sank" when they heard the news about St George Hotel.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 4:35 pm
Let down by hotel chain collapse - NHS staff members Ali and Ben Farr whose wedding reception was meant to be at St George Hotel in Harrogate.

Ali Farr, 32, and Ben Cross, 31, who first met in 2006 while at university, say it's the second time they have had to postpone their big day and the cancellation may leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Until the weekend's bad news about Specialist Leisure Group, which owns Country Living Hotels, they had been looking forward to welcoming more than 100 guest suppose to their wedding, some from as far away as Australia.

A community nurse for the Knaresborough and Boroughbridge Community Care Team, Ali said: "We then found out via a post on a Facebook site that the hotel had gone into administration.

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"My heart just sank. We haven’t heard anything from the hotel itself.

"We appreciate this has impacted many people and not just us but an email would have sufficed.

"I’ve had to send messages to all my guests telling them to ignore my invites."

Ali was scheduled to marry paramedic Ben at St John’s Church in Knaresborough with the wedding reception at St George Hotel on Ripon Road in Harrogate.

They had already been forced to cancel the original date of May 1 at this Country Living hotel which was recently refurbished because of the coronavirus lockdown and had rearranged the date for the end of the year.

Ali said: "We’ve not just been through this once but twice.

"We got engaged in March 2018 and planned to have our reception at The George Hotel and booked it prior to their big refurb in the meantime we found out that we were expecting our daughter Imogen who is now 18-months-old and so we put back the date to May 1, 2020.

"As we then had to postpone the 1st May due to Covid-19 we had to find a new date but after a long process of trying to find a date which all our suppliers could do, we ended up making the decision to sacrifice the ceremony at St John’s Church as all the suppliers could fit in a date.

"By then, the wedding was becoming a financial burden rather than the happy day it was suppose to be and the date we chose was December 31, 2020.

"We knew we would have to pay more money - an extra £4000 - but decided to book the whole day at St George Hotel, as it was more of a date that meant something to us."

As for the future, the couple remain uncertain whether they will get a refund and now face the daunting task of finding yet another date for their wedding - and telling everyone about it.

Ali said: "We hope that we can reschedule the wedding but again this is money dependent as we have been saving for the last two years.

"If we can’t get any money back we will have to look at other options for our wedding but the headache of it all is too much for me to deal with at present time as I just don’t know what to do in the current climate.

"I’ve got a lot to rearrange. I haven’t even began to tell my photographer, videographer, the make-up artists, my 10 bridesmaids that again we are having to potentially move dates.

"My flower girl and page boys outfits not won’t fit so it’s not just the hotel money we will lose it all the added extras.

"I haven't really thought about launching fundraising, I can’t really think about anything but just wanting to get married and try and get back our own money. "

The couple, who first met while studying at The University of Chester, have been working throughout the pandemic and say they would not swap their NHS jobs for anything.

Ali said: "I can't deny It’s been a worry for us all but, as a nurse, it’s my job and you just have to carry on as the patients are who matter at the end of the day. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything."

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