A COUPLE have slammed a luxury wedding venue after they were "forced" to take an alternative date for their big day or risk losing £2,500 spent on a wedding package.

Jason Carr-Barker and Charmaine Strong, of Catterick Garrison, were due to get married at Crathorne Hall Hotel near Yarm in May.

Mr Carr-Barker, who works in the food industry, and Miss Strong, who works as a carer, had been planning their dream wedding for the past five years.

But after hotels, restaurants and wedding venues were ordered to shut in March, their wedding was cancelled.

However, the couple say they have been left fighting for their money as they accused the hotel of forcing them into an alternative date, instead of issuing a refund.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Mr Carr-Barker said the venue was "holding" on to their money despite telling the hotel that they were deeply unhappy with the situation.

He said: “We chose the venue because it was a nice hall, nice gardens. Everything seemed fine, the approach was good.

"We had it all paid, deposit first, then over the months we paid it in full £2,500, we initially chose a package for 30 guests.”

After the wedding was cancelled, Mr Carr-Barker contacted the hotel only to be told that a refund was ‘not an option.’

He said: "They said if we chose to cancel, then we would lose all of our money.

“We had chosen May as we felt it was a nice part of the year, nice weather.

"We wanted to get married on a Saturday, but they didn't have any available, so we had to opt for a Sunday in September."

Mr Carr-Barker said the couple had also decided on a refund as he claimed the venue could not make any guarantees that the wedding would be going ahead.

He said: “I had emailed Crathorne Hall and said we are not sure you can promise us that our wedding will be going ahead – and they said if they can’t do the date, then we will get a refund.”

Urging Crathorne Hall bosses to hand their money back, the couple said they had been given ‘no service’ and they had been ‘left in the lurch.’

Mr Carr-Barker said: "It feels like they are trying to force us.

"We wish we had never have booked it. It has all been so stressful. It was like our get out clause, a bit of happiness.

"It all seems to be about money, I have read and read, and it’s happening so many couples around the country. It’s wrong."

In response, a spokesperson for Handpicked Hotels, which runs Crathorne Hall, said Mr Carr-Barker had chosen to move their wedding to the date in September but said a refund would be offered if it could not be fulfilled.

They said: "We have had to move several weddings as a result of Covid-19 and our couples have remained our number one priority throughout this process. 

"We have contacted each and every one from the outset with the opportunity to either postpone to an alternative date or accept a full refund if we were unable to fulfil it.  

"Mr Carr-Baker chose to move their wedding to the date in September, and in the event we cannot fulfil this, we will of course offer a full refund which has been fully explained to him."