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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 16:12 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

One Newport couple's dream day turned into a nightmare when delays to their wedding meal left guests hungry and unsatisfied.

When fireman Brian Amos proposed to Tracey Fowler they were keen to turn the day into a big celebration.

After a difficult year which saw Tracey recovering from a mild stroke, the wedding day was something that the couple were both putting all their energies into.

Tracey says she was looking for a fairytale day. She told X-Ray, "That's what I was hoping for, my family to all be together, and a lovely day, all my friends, a lovely husband, our three children and a fairytale."

The Burleigh Academy in Newport

Brian and Tracey wanted to get married at the Burleigh Academy in Newport, a converted church which now is used as a performing arts school and a venue for parties and weddings. It was a place that held very happy memories for the couple.

"It's where we met," Brian said, "It's a special place, it's a beautiful venue, as such and it was just a no brainer really."

And the venue's owner, Sarah Lucas, promised the couple a dream wedding.

Tracey said, "She made me feel it would be the best wedding ever, I'll make your day special. She knew I'd been ill and she was quite excited, really excited for us."

As the wedding drew near the couple paid Sarah in cash - as she had asked - paying just over £3,000 for the venue and staff and the rest, nearly £4,000, to cover food and other costs.

And, as is traditional for most brides, on the day Tracey turned up a little bit late. But that's where the problems started.
Tracey showed X-Ray proof that she arrived at the church just 14 minutes late, but when she got there she says she was told there was no time to have photographs before she got married.

After the service the couple were keen to celebrate their marriage with their friends and family and after coming back from photographs they were looking forward to a West Indian feast they had ordered, to honour Brian's Caribbean roots.

While the guests all sat down to eat at 2.30pm, some were left waiting and waiting for their main course.

Brian said, "I mean this was over a period of time, it wasn't just over starter and then there was a slight delay. This was somewhere between two and three hours after we'd sat down to have our main course."

Tracey says her sister was told the hot plate had been broken and that was why there was a delay on the food.

Brian said, "It descended into chaos actually, because people were saying - well three people on the table had been served their main, some people had been served coffee without having had a meal. Some people had vegetables but the gravy had gone because it was cold, it had come back boiling hot but then the vegetables were cold.

“There seemed to be no coordination in the way the food was delivered at the table."

Some guests were kept waiting so long for their meals that they decided to pop to the local chip shop - not quite the wedding meal that Tracey and Brian had planned.

And because the meal was so late there wasn't time for all the speeches. The father of the bride, Derek Pratt, never got a chance to toast his daughter.

Derek told X-Ray, "I wanted to wish them all the best and everything and I was disappointed I couldn't say that."

The reception left the newlyweds deeply disappointed. Tracey said, "Well I didn't want anyone to see that I was upset just fighting back the tears really, and just thinking in my mind, this is not going to spoil our day."
The couple returned to the venue the next day to complain and Sarah offered them £475. But it was a figure they were unwilling to accept.

Brian said, "I was disappointed in that she said she hadn't slept and that she realised she hadn't provided the service which she said she would, remembering of course she said this is going to be the best wedding ever."

Sarah Lucas then said she'd reconsider. But when the couple met her again she told them she wasn't prepared to offer anything.

Brian told us, "Basically we met and she denied everything, she's saying that she's offering us absolutely nothing."

When we first contacted Sarah Lucas about the problems with the meal she said these issues needed to be addressed to the caterers, a Pentecostal Church in Pill, who she said the couple had booked themselves.

But the ladies at the New Testament Church of God, tell a different story - they say they've never even met the couple. Sarah's letter to us also says the caterers blame the food problems on the wedding couple's late arrival at the reception.

X-Ray consulted consumer law expert Margaret Griffiths who told us Sarah was wrong to says she doesn't hold responsibility and to blame the church, "She is responsible for this”, Professor Griffiths explained. “When you book a contract for the provision of the service, it is the person with whom you actually book it that is responsible.

“In this instance of a wedding breakfast she can subcontract the catering to someone else - she might have subcontracted provision of flowers or some music or whatever - but at the end of the day, the customer's contract is with her and she is responsible for it."  

Sarah Lucas got back in touch and she said the bride was 35 minutes late and there was a slight delay before the food was served to guests...and only a few meals were cold. 

She told X-Ray that an evening buffet for two hundred and thirty was also served and she says the guests enjoyed this immensely.
But she is still willing to offer a refund of £475 for the late service of some meals.

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