'Cheap and tacky' wedding email that went global

By Jonathan Marshall

A marquee company has apologised to a bride-to-be and her fiance after an employee sent them an abusive email describing their wedding plans as "cheap, nasty and tacky".

The firm also claimed the couple was not suitable for their marquees, which were intended for "upper class clients" and advised them to go to budget firm Payless Plastics instead.

Now, the shame-faced owners have apologised after the rude email went global. Thousands of Kiwis received the marquee email, and bridal message boards worldwide carried copies of the exchange.

The marquee company's CEO, Klaus Jorgensen, said he had sacked the employee responsible - who turned out to be his wife Katrina, and she in turn said she was feeling "suicidal" because of the furore her email had caused.

Lawyer Paula Brosnahan, 33, and her fiance Steve Hausman, 36, who will marry in April next year, sought a quote from The Great Marquee Company for their Whangaparaoa cliff-top wedding. They viewed photos on the company's website and arranged an appointment to inspect a marquee in Devonport.

But when the Mt Albert couple decided the marquee would not be suitable and sent a polite email to the company saying they would look elsewhere, they were shocked to receive a reply from the firm saying their wedding wasn't posh enough for its tents.

The couple, who met 17 years ago, had written a polite letter saying: "Paula and I went and viewed your marquee setup at Devonport ... unfortunately we did not like it ... thanks for your assistance and we are sorry that it turned out this way."

Two hours later the firm's office manager, Katrina Jorgensen, replied to the couple: "Your wedding sounded cheap, nasty and tacky anyway, so we only ever considered you time wasters. Our marquees are for upper class clients which unfortunately you are not. Why don't you stay within your class levels and buy something from Payless Plastics instead."

Brosnahan told the Herald on Sunday that their wedding was far from a frugal affair. "We are spending $30,000 on this day, they don't know anything about our wedding so I can't see how they can label it cheap," said Brosnahan, who is a Resource Management Act specialist for law giant Chapman Tripp.

She is currently acting for the Eden Park Trust Board in the stadium debate.

Her fiance Steve Hausman, a builder, said he was appalled by the company's email and hurt by the remarks. "We have had all sorts of dramas and we didn't need this, I just got fired up. I am blown away and have forwarded the email on ... it has ended up going to about 400 people." Brosnahan said she sent the email to a Chapman Tripp colleague and asked him not to send it on. He replied: "It is too late."

Company director Klaus Jorgensen said in a statement: "The Great Marquee Company is extremely sorry that one of our employees chose to enter into a highly inappropriate exchange of emails with a potential customer. The emails were not sent with the knowledge of the CEO nor does the company endorse or stand behind them."

Klaus said he has "sacked" the company's office manager Katrina, who is his wife. Katrina Jorgensen contacted the Herald on Sunday and said: "I'm suicidal ... I just don't know what to do. I am so apologetic and just want to say sorry to everyone."

The New Zealand president of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia - of which The Great Marquee Company is a member - said the company's membership was in jeopardy. Dona White said the email exchange would be tabled at a committee meeting on Tuesday. "This is highly inappropriate and really quite bizarre, it is completely unprofessional and they should not be involved in our organisation."

Lesley Walker, editor of Bride and Groom magazine, labelled the email communication as "strange".

"Their marquees are good, but their PR isn't."

In the meantime, the couple has booked another marquee for $8000.

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