Tuesday 19 February 2019

Couple 'left heartbroken' as hotel cancels wedding renewal due to take place today

Matthew Smith and his wife Deborah forced to call off sit-in at the Ambassador Hotel in Cork

Matthew Smith pictured at The Ambassador Hotel, Cork city where he was due renew his vows with his wife Deborah on New Years Eve. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Matthew Smith pictured at The Ambassador Hotel, Cork city where he was due renew his vows with his wife Deborah on New Years Eve. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Matthew pictured at The Ambassador Hotel, Cork city where he was due renew his vows with his wife Deborah on New Years Eve. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Ralph Riegel and Mark O'Regan

A YOUNG couple claimed their “hearts are broken” after a dream wedding vow renewal ceremony on New Year’s Eve turned into a nightmare after an eleventh hour booking dispute with their hotel.

Matthew Smith and his wife, Deborah, began a sit-in protest at the Ambassador Hotel in Cork after realising their lavish black-tie ceremony at 4pm on New Year’s Eve was going to be cancelled after they refused to pay what they claimed was a supplementary booking fee.

The protest was launched in desperation by the couple on Tuesday afternoon.

However, they had to end their protest in the hotel shortly before 1am today after the Gardai were called and they were informed their continued presence could be deemed trespassing.

Matthew continued the protest on the street outside the hotel while he sent his distraught wife home to be comforted by family and friends.

A heartbroken Matthew told the Herald their romantic New Year’s Eve plans to mark their 10th wedding anniversary have turned into a disaster and they have been unable to secure any alternative venue at the eleventh hour.

Matthew and Deborah claim the hotel informed them their booking agreed last July was now at an uncompetitive rate and they required a supplementary fee for the evening.

“Our hearts are broken by this. We had wanted to renew our wedding vows after 10 years and we got a great deal last July with the hotel’s former manager,” he said.

“We got such a great deal that is why we booked with this hotel. It was supposed to be New Year’s Eve we would never forget but it is now turning into a nightmare.”

The Ambassador Hotel said they would be making absolutely no comment on the matter.

Matthew and Deborah live at White’s Cross in Cork and had invited 90 guests including family and friends to their special wedding vow renewal ceremony.

Friends and family had travelled to Cork from as far away as Donegal and London.

It was also planned as a romantic way to usher in 2015 for their entire extended family.

Matthew said he felt they had no option but to begin the sit-in protest after the hotel returned their final stage payment on the ceremony this week after last ditch negotiations failed.

The couple claim the hotel had been looking for over €1,000 extra.

“They claimed that we were the ones cancelling the ceremony by not agreeing to a new contract but they are the ones cancelling because they wanted more money and that is not what we agreed to last summer.”

“The truth is that I just couldn’t afford the money involved in the new contract.”

Matthew and Deborah are demanding the return of the first €2,000 payment as well if the hotel does not honour the original booking.

Matthew was determined to make Deborah’s New Year’s Eve dream come true but couldn’t find any other hotel in Cork to take their booking at such a late stage despite repeated media appeals.

Deborah admitted that what was supposed to be a special night for the couple had turned into a disaster.

“It is very, very disappointing,” she said.

“I just want the whole thing to end now – I’m very upset over it.”

Matthew is from Togher while Deborah is from The Glen.

He runs a popular gym in Cork as well as doing work for a Cork hospital.

“All we wanted was for the original booking to happen. We were delighted with the venue and the location. But it has turned into a disaster for us,” he said.

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