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Couples left furious after reading of north-east wedding venue’s closure plan online

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Disappointed couples have been left furious after finding out that their wedding receptions had been cancelled from a Facebook post.

Would-be brides and grooms booked to get married at The Tufted Duck Hotel in St Combs had their big days cancelled after the venue’s owners Lesley Ann and Conrad Ritchie made the decision to revamp the business as a bar and bistro.

The couple blamed a loss of trade during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown for the decision not to reopen later this month once restrictions are lifted.

North-east hotel closes ahead of redevelopment into bar

They also said they relied upon two functions per week to make the business, which employs 19 staff, viable, and as yet there’s no date in place for when large gatherings will be allowed again.

However, that’s been blasted as little more than a handy excuse by one angry bride who was due to get married at The Tufted Duck in September 2021.

The woman, who asked not to be named, found out her nuptials would not go ahead after reading about the revamp on the hotel’s Facebook page this week.

“I was absolutely disgusted to see they had put up a post and not even given us a courtesy phonecall first to soften the blow,” she said.

“Since then, the owners haven’t made any of the phone calls to apologise and instead have their staff doing their dirty work.

“Our events coordinator was nothing but helpful and when she called to arrange a refund of our deposit and  I had to tell her not to take the negative comments to heart as they weren’t aimed at her.

“There are lots of couples who have been left frustrated and angry and the owners should have taken responsibility for speaking to them.”

The Fraserburgh bride booked a small wedding with 60 guests, followed by an evening reception with around 160 friends and family, after getting engaged in December.

“It was our first choice of venue because it’s the closest for us,” she said.

“It’s really handy and has been good for local weddings. We had everything sorted.

“Luckily, we’ve managed to rebook elsewhere for the same date so won’t have to rearrange other suppliers. Others won’t be so lucky and will lose deposits or suppliers.”

She added: “It’s just frustrating that the hotel is blaming Covid-19. Some couples have been allowed to rebook already and the hotel shouldn’t have given out new dates knowing they wouldn’t honour them.

“It doesn’t seem like a snap decision.”

Other brides-to-be took to social media to express their anger. One said: “Great way to get it out it on social media while people are still working.

“I came home to find my wedding is cancelled. Great pick-me-up that was! Immediately tried calling and emailing only for everything to be ignored.”

Mr Ritchie, whose family have owned the business for 13 years, said the personal attacks on social media were inaccurate and unhelpful.

“Following on from our announcement on Tuesday, we have now contacted everyone affected to let them know about the difficult decision we have had to take and to make arrangements for returning their deposits,” he said.

“With an announcement of this nature, it is important that our staff are the first to learn of this situation. As soon as we had spoken to our staff, we began contacting our customers.

“We fully appreciate the distress associated with this news, it has been a difficult and unsettling time for our staff and us.

“The personal attacks and inaccurate comments on social media have not been helpful to anyone.

“We are grateful to our staff and customers for their understanding and look forward to a future when The Tufted Duck can return from the effects of this horrendous global pandemic and the associated economic hardship.”

But the social media anger was significant, with one groom-to-be adding: “It’s disgusting we have to find out on social media that our wedding is cancelled. That’s after we changed the date and they never said a word.

“Then they didn’t have the guts to phone us, getting some poor lassie to phone and probably get a mouthful from everyone.”

Another said: “The thing I’m annoyed at is that we didn’t even get an apology over the phone. I understand the circumstances, but a sorry goes a long way.”