Couple who booked dream wedding through Tui discover they are not actually legally married after a series of blunders.
Andy Helsdon and Heidi Brown planned and saved for 18 months to make their dream of a Caribbean wedding come true. They enlisted the wedding experts at Tui to organise their special day in Jamaica and settled on the 5-star Montego Bay Resort in Jamaica. However, when they arrived, they found the resort to be rowdy and not the relaxing and peaceful hotel Tui had promised.
The hotel is part of Tui’s Platinum Collection and came highly recommended by staff. Andy Helsdon spoke to The Mirror Online: “We went down to our local Tui store in Blackburn in September 2017 to discuss it further. The shop staff highly recommended the resort, describing it as a family hotel with a luxurious twist. It ticked all the boxes and so we booked a two-week holiday and a wedding package for April 2019. We had our full trust in Tui as the experts. We were promised a romantic getaway and full wedding service including legal documents and our own private wedding co-ordinator at our beck and call.”
After saving for 18 months and two years of planning, the couple and their 22 guests arrived in Jamaica. Things got off to a great start when they arrived and were offered a free room upgrade, but things quickly started to go downhill.
When asked about the hotel Mr Helsdon said: “The place resembled a rowdy 18 to 30’s resort with foam parties in the pool and women twerking on the bar. Most evenings the children had to stay in their rooms with an accompanying adult because the entertainment was overly sexualised and not suitable for families. The hotel furniture was old and tatty and could not be described as luxurious. It resembled a 3-star hotel rather than a 5-star. It was sold to us as paradise but in actual fact it was a nightmare.”
To make matters worse, on the day of the wedding, the co-ordinator was nowhere to be found and the bride was sat waiting alone in her hotel room. Eventually someone did turn up to help but it was not the co-ordinator they had planned the wedding with originally. When she was ready to walk down the aisle, there was a further delay because the minister failed to show up on time. The couple were left feeling as though their ceremony had been rushed and even felt that the reception was a disaster, as the food they were promised was not available and hotel staff were rude.
Incredibly things got worse the following day when the couple noticed a mistake with the wedding register. The certified copy showed the witness names had been written by the minister in the wrong place, and because of this invalidated the legal document meaning the couple were not legally married.
Andy told the Mirror: “We spent the rest of the holiday speaking to various people, including the TUI representative about how we could correct this, but they didn’t take it seriously. They even tried to blame us and said we filled them out wrong despite the documents provided by us all filled out correctly. We were verging on hysterical and they just scribbled on our copy of the document by way of correction, even though this didn’t mean anything legally as the official register didn’t match. The whole experience left us feeling ashamed in front of our guests who had all spent a lot of money to join us. We feel like we are still living in hell, in limbo about if the wedding is legally binding.”
After making a series of complaints to the Hotel themselves and not getting very far, the couple decided to visit the branch where they had originally booked the wedding. Staff at the store were shocked when they heard the story and agreed to send a letter directly to TUI head office, but after 28 days the couple still had no response from the travel operator. The couple have now sought legal action.
“We eventually received a response. TUI denied all responsibility and said our marriage was fine and legal, which isn’t the case. They said it was nothing to do with them and to get in touch with the hotel directly.”
The couple have since spoken to the Blackburn Registry Office and the National Registry Office who have both advised that in England, Andy and Heidi’s wedding is not legal.
Heidi said: “We went away to get married and commit our lives to each other and it has just been one big stressful mess. This was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime for not only ourselves but our guests, making memories we could cherish forever but it will always be tainted with this memory. We came home not sure if we we’re even married. We are utterly heartbroken.”
When Mirror Money contacted TUI, a spokesperson refused to comment. “We are very sorry to hear of Mr Helsdon and Ms Brown’s experience in Jamaica. As this is now a legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” a statement read.