North East couples left heartbroken after Matfen Hall almost triples wedding prices

By Kieran Murray

North East couples have been left heartbroken after having their weddings cancelled by a Northumberland venue which has almost tripled its prices.

A host of wedding plans are now in turmoil after Matfen Hall informed couples they would need to fork out at least £20,000 to hold their date.

The venue has hiked up its minimum spending level after claiming it cannot continue operating at a loss with the fees previously agreed.

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Chris Marshall, 32, and fiancée Laura Davies, 31, were due to tie the knot at Matfen Hall on November 5 next year and were "disgusted" at receiving an email notifying them of the cancellation on Friday.

"It was horrendous. The letter is so cold and it's as though they don't care at all," said Chris, from South Shields.

"It's unbelievable the way they have handled the situation. We're absolutely devastated."

The pair, who had agreed a £9,000 fee for their big day, had paid a £1,000 deposit last year to secure the booking.

The couple now face losing out on around £500 of other deposits paid to suppliers if they cannot find an alternative venue with the same date available.

Chris said: "We were so delighted to be getting married there because we fell in love with the place when we looked around.

Chris and fiancée Laura are heartbroken at losing their dream wedding venue (Submitted)

"After all of this we're glad we're not going to be getting married there if this is the way they treat people.

"It's been manic the past few days trying to figure out what we're going to do. You're supposed to enjoy the arranging of your wedding but this has ruined that experience for us."

Matfen Hall underwent a multi-million pound renovation during the national lockdowns after being purchased by Northumberland hospitality firm Walwick Estate Group last summer.

Zac Mavin and Beth Roberts, both 26, were devastated at having to cancel their wedding on July 14 - what would have been their 10-year anniversary - due to Covid-19.

The Ashington couple agreed with Matfen Hall to put the date back a year and keep the same terms of paying around £7,000 for their wedding.

Zac Mavin and Beth Roberts had their wedding price almost tripled by Matfen Hall (Submitted)

But weeks later they were left gobsmacked after receiving a new bill which had almost tripled to fit in with the venue's new pricing structure.

Zac said: "I was absolutely speechless. We thought £20,000 was a joke.

"We had our hearts set on Matfen Hall but now my skin crawls when I even hear it mentioned.

"When we looked at the bill they had removed a lot of the extras which were going to make our day extra special and then were going to charge us almost triple for the privilege.

"The venue said they could honour our original price if we got married before March 31 next year which I think is just damn right cheeky. It's clear they do not care.

Matfen Hall has recently undergone a refurbishment (Newcastle Chronicle)

"Thankfully we have managed to secure Jesmond Dene House for July 14 next year so we're not losing out on any money."

Matfen Hall says it has honoured 119 weddings agreed by the previous management, costing the hotel more than £1.2m.

However, it says it cannot continue "running a loss" and saying it was a "difficult decision" to make in what is a challenging time for the hospitality sector.

A spokesman said: "The hotel employs over 130 people and uses many local suppliers that rely on us.

"Our team cares passionately about our guests and ensuring they have the wedding of their dreams. However, it is not possible to absorb those costs indefinitely while at the same time ensuring that Matfen Hall remains a venue where people can come to relax and get married for many years into the future.

"We understand that this will be disappointing for those affected by this difficult decision, made in light of what is currently an extremely challenging time for the hospitality sector.

"The challenge of running weddings at a loss has been further compounded by the huge labour shortages we are now seeing in the UK hospitality industry.

"At the time we made our commitment we could not foresee the huge additional strain this would put on our existing staff to handle the volume of weddings we have seen as a result of postponements and cancellations that have been brought forward.

"Every wedding is special and this is an outcome we tried our utmost to avoid. We have returned all deposits and given more than nine months’ notice to all those affected, but we recognise the disappointment this has caused."

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