A County Durham couple held a last-minute wedding reception at their local Beefeater after Wynyard Hall cancelled due to damage caused by Storm Arwen.
Sean, 39, and Emma Brown, 34, got married at 11.30am on November 27, 2021, at St John’s Church in Meadowfield- but at 10am received a phone call from Wynyard Hall to say they would be unable to host their reception.
The wedding venue said that Storm Arwen left them with no power and as a result would be closed until further notice for the health and safety of the public, guests, and staff.
Go here for more County Durham news and updates from County Durham Live
Luckily, Sean’s sister-in-law saved the day by managing to arrange a last-minute wedding reception at the local Beefeater where she works.
Despite their wedding reception disaster, the couple, who have a two-year-old son called Issac, and a party of around 85 people had a fantastic time at the Broomside Park Beefeater.
Sean said: “My sister-in-law called and said basically from 12.30 we have 85 people with nowhere to go would you be able to put on food and some kind of reception and they rose to the occasion.
“They went above and beyond for us. They had a buffet and hot food for people and they even got us some flowers.
“They even provided a speaker so we could have our first dance, which still brings a tear to my eye and will do for some time.
“They didn’t just go the extra mile, they went the extra marathon.”
Sean initially believed that because the situation was out of the venue’s control that they would not be issued with any sort of refund, however, Wynyard Hall has since offered the couple a full refund.
But Sean said the experience has caused lots of stress for his pregnant wife who didn’t get the day she “deserved or wanted”.
He said: “I’m not pointing the finger at Wynyard Hall because it was completely out of their control but I don’t think they handled the situation well at all. We had to contact all the suppliers.
“The whole Wynyard Hall experience for me has left a lot to be desired for me.
“It’s a stressful time anyway, both Emma and I wanted a big wedding to celebrate with all of our family and friends.
“Emma is pregnant and this has caused a lot of stress and restlessness for her. She’s a nurse as well so she doesn’t need this added aggravation.
“To see your wife spend her day crying, she didn’t get the day she deserved or wanted and it’s soul-destroying to see someone go through that.”
Sean also claimed Wynyard Hall didn’t attempt to contact wedding guests that were due to stay at the hall and all had to find alternative accommodation at short notice.
A spokesperson for Wynyard Hall said: “Storm Arwen caused a great deal of damage to Wynyard Hall & its grounds, along with having no power, therefore, as health and safety of guests and staff is always paramount, we were unable to host the reception of Sean and Emma.
“Firstly, Sean and Emma have been offered a full refund.
“We completely sympathise with Emma and Sean and were devastated to have to take the action that we took. On the day of their wedding reception, our Wedding Coordinator discussed the possibility of hosting a first-year anniversary party, which the couple agreed to verbally.
“This was an Act of God and beyond anyone’s control. Our Wedding Coordinator offered on the day to contact suppliers.
“Furthermore, an email was sent December 6th to the couple to explain that we would be happy to help with the re-arranging of suppliers in the planning of their first-year anniversary party to help.
“Wynyard Hall was unable to contact any guests for 48 hours after the storm as all of our systems and phone lines were down, meaning we had no way to retrieve contact and booking information for guests, we did advise to guests who contacted us through social media, which was all we had access to, of the situation and other local hotels nearby.
“We strongly believe that given the circumstances which again are beyond anyone’s control, we’ve tried to accommodate and support Sean and Emma as much as possible, after having delivering flowers to Emma and Sean after the event.
“We’re sorry to hear that Sean has said he has lost total trust, but we do feel that we have tried to manage the circumstances as best as possible and work closely with the couple to come to a positive outcome from circumstances that were extremely difficult for both parties.”
For the latest County Durham news direct to your inbox every day, go here to sign up to our free newsletter