Lydia, 58, a Civil Servant, and Martin Guest, 53, an Investigation Officer, had planned a romantic and sophisticated Las Vegas wedding ceremony in the world-renowned Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.
They had invited seven friends from both the UK and other parts of America to join them in celebrating their nuptials. For Martin, this was his first marriage. Lydia has been married before and is a widow after 33 years.
The couple put their complete trust in the holiday giant and expected everything to go to plan. But when the Officiant didn’t turn up on time, things took a rocky turn. The couple were forced to change everything and were instead married by an Elvis Presley impersonator at the last minute.
Bott and Co have taken on the case and is fighting Virgin Holidays for the couple’s compensation for a mis-sold wedding package under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 2018 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Lydia said: “Virgin Holidays ruined our dream Vegas wedding and now they won’t even speak to us.”
Planning The Perfect Wedding After A Difficult Time
After the death of her mother in 2018, Lydia and her fiancé Martin decided that they’d like to ‘get away from it all’ and have their wedding abroad. They booked a Virgin wedding holiday package in September 2018 for May 2019, with the promise of a wonderful, stress-free experience.
Lydia said: “We chose the Valley Of Fire and Virgin Holidays not only for the scenic backdrop but also because we wanted the solemnity expected of a UK wedding. We communicated by email and telephone calls from England to the Virgin contractor ‘A Special Memory’ for a Wedding at 4pm in The Valley of Fire. All of which was confirmed by email.
As we were leaving, the officiate showed up 70 minutes late. He didn’t apologise or offer any explanation as to why he was late. We were so upset and lost for words.
We also paid an additional cost for a videographer to attend and produce a DVD of the day itself that would be played at a celebration party in the UK with our friends and family once we returned home as Mr and Mrs.”
Ready To Say ‘I Do’ In Las Vegas
When they arrived in Las Vegas, the couple once again called ‘A Special Memory’ directly to reconfirm the wedding details and were assured everything would be in order.
“On the day of the Wedding the limousine for me and my friends was on time and the photographer greeted us at the venue.
We arrived at the Valley of Fire and were kept waiting for the Officiate, organised by Virgin, to arrive. Martin didn’t want to see me until the ceremony so he had paid for a hire car to take him and our male friends separately.”
No Sign Of The Wedding Officiant
“The wedding was due to take place at 4pm but that time passed and while Martin was waiting at the altar, I was sat in the Limousine in my wedding dress getting increasingly anxious and worried. We waited and waited and were not kept informed about anything.
We had booked a private photographer and hired the Neon Museum for a Wedding photoshoot for after the wedding and so when it became 5pm, we had to leave the wedding venue. As we were leaving, the officiate showed up 70 minutes late. He didn’t apologise or offer any explanation as to why he was late. We were so upset and lost for words.
What should have been a dream wedding was a fiasco, spoilt by incompetence and no effort to try and make amends. The resort reps were rude and disinterested in our misfortune.
On the way back, I contacted an Elvis minister, recommended by the photographer, who agreed to marry us later that night. This wasn’t ideal as we wanted a more traditional officiant to marry us and a more traditional wedding with the stunning backdrop of the Valley of Fire state park. .”
Honeymoon In Vegas Turns To Tears
Lydia and Martin woke the next morning unsure whether they were legally married and having received no contact from Virgin Weddings or ‘A Special Memory’.
“I rang Virgin Holidays at 9am. The person I spoke to was quite rude and unsympathetic which added more upset to our disappointment. They said they would have to speak with their supplier and I continued to ring every hour but we were not offered any solutions or understanding.
We both stayed in our hotel room all day chasing and waiting for a response. I was left crying for three whole days.
It wasn’t until Friday when the error was acknowledged and an offer was made to refund the wedding cost, the cost of the Elvis minister and the hire car. We didn’t feel this was justice for our ruined wedding and holiday.
We had seven friends give up their free time to join us in Vegas and it was embarrassing and distressing for all of us.”
Arriving Home With Unhappy Memories
When they arrived home, Lydia describes having to tell well-wishers asking about the wedding how awful it was.
“Everyone kept asking how it was and I had to explain how badly it turned out. The look on people’s faces was shock.
I called Virgin UK and reported a complaint. I was told it can take up to 28 days for them to investigate. I telephoned again and requested to speak with a manager and was told no-one was available and I would get a call back within three working days, yet I am still waiting for the call four months later.”
There was a contract in place between both parties to provide a legally binding wedding, including an officiate and this was not fulfilled.
Lydia received an email from Virgin asking for her bank details to refund the wedding cost of £1,121.
“We believe we are entitled to a full refund of the holiday cost as we couldn’t relax and enjoy ourselves. We were upset that they didn’t even offer an apology. They ruined our wedding and Virgin didn’t even marry us! They have had no understanding that this was supposed to be the best day of our lives.
What should have been a dream wedding was a fiasco, spoilt by incompetence and no effort to try and make amends. The resort reps were rude and disinterested in our misfortune.”
Luckily, the alternative wedding the couple organised was legitimate and they are indeed legally married.
When they had their wedding party in the UK, they planned to show their wedding video and photographs to family and friends but they didn’t have either of these.
Over To The Experts For Help
After getting nowhere further with Virgin, and having already spent hours of their time communicating with the holiday company on over 20 separate occasions, the couple have instructed Bott and Co to act on their behalf. The couple had heard of the law firm through word of mouth and online research gave them confidence to put in a claim.
“Virgin are a big company who should look after their customers but had no empathy or understanding. We are well aware we are taking on a large firm so we sought professional help to take the matter further.
We would have liked to have been treated as valued customers and at the very least receive a phone call from a senior customer complaints handler and for our concerns to be heard. Virgin failed to apologise or offer a satisfactory resolution.
We require a full refund of our holiday and acknowledgement that our dream wedding turned into a nightmare.”
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co said: “This couple booked an all-inclusive wedding package with a reputable company and were assured everything would be perfect. This certainly hasn’t been the case. Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 2018 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Virgin had a responsibility to provide all the elements of the package contracted as they were described.
There was a contract in place between both parties to provide a legally binding wedding, including an officiate and this was not fulfilled.”