A Melbourne wedding venue has been forced to pay a couple A$13,000 (NZ$$14,220) for "ruining" their wedding day after their reception turned into a "complete disaster".
Wendy Lam and Ben Bui were married in November 2016 and paid A$27,000 to have their wedding reception at Maison Melbourne in Elsternwick, in the city's southeast.
But the couple say their 173 guests were served tiny portions of cold food on platters, without adequate cutlery and the experience did not meet their standards.
They took their grievances to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which ordered Maison Melbourne to pay the couple $12,958.50, significantly less than the $98,000 they were hoping to be reimbursed.
Lam and Bui say they were "embarrassed" in front of their friends and family by the poor quality of the food.
"Maison has made Wendy and I completely embarrassed in front of all our closest family and friends," Bui wrote in an email to the venue.
"We have received multiple complaints about the food and service from many of our guests. We are stuck with this memory for the rest of our lives."
The couple had previously attended a tasting at Maison Melbourne and were happy with the food presented, but things were very different on their wedding day.
"The food did not come out as it did at the tasting," Bui wrote.
"The food was promised to come out as individual servings per person as it did at the tasting. Instead it came out as platters and was not even sufficient for everyone on the table. People that missed out on food and there was no service either.
"There was not enough staff, so there was not enough service for the guests. [Desserts] came out without cutlery. The night was a complete disaster.
"Everyone was telling me to try and enjoy the night and to forget it. I looked over to the family side and I [could] see disappointed and unhappy faces. I could not get myself to go over to the family side to mingle."
Some guests were so hungry they stopped off on the way home for fast food.
"My friends actually left to go to McDonald's because there wasn't enough food and they were still hungry," he told the Leader.
Much of the couple's complaint centres on the fact that guests were not served half a lobster each, as Lam and Bui had paid for.
Lam told the tribunal the lobster was "cold, overcooked and not fresh" and there was not the half a lobster per person she expected. She said the noodles tasted like "it was from the frozen food aisle at Coles/Woolworths".
Lam said she was upset and ashamed by the quality of food served.
"I did not want to confront them because if I did I may have just bawled my eyes out and I did not want to appear like that because it would have ruined everyone's mood even more," she told the tribunal.
Lam's maid of honour, Duy Minh Ngoc Bui, gave evidence that "the meal was severely below standard, and was nowhere near what was expected of Ben and Wendy".
Bui explained the significance of the lack of lobster.
"It was nowhere near expectation or acceptability for an Asian banquet, and anyone who knows Asian weddings will vouch that almost the entire wedding hinges on whether there is half a lobster per person at dinner; without it, the couple would be considered cheap," she said.
A friend of the couple, David Duong, also explained why the food meant so much to Lam and Bui.
"Their number one priority for their much loved guests was to provide exceptional food and service as a kind gesture," Duong said.
"[The meat platter] was not adequate enough to have belonged on a typical restaurant menu let alone a wedding menu.
"Next came the lobster and noodle dish, which in Asian culture, is the most recognised dish of all. People do not generally consume lobster dishes as it is a dish only worthy in times of great celebration.
"The [quail] portions again were not what a reasonable person would consider appropriate.
"I am confident to say that Ben and Wendy would have spent their days after the wedding apologising to all their guests for such a disappointing night."
This isn't the first time Maison Melbourne has been before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
In August last year another young Melbourne couple were forced to pay their wedding reception bill twice, after they cancelled their first venue over a dispute about the quality of the menu.
Tarryn Sohn and Jason Conway had planned to marry at Maison Melbourne but cancelled their booking when they were served "cold" food, cheap cocktails and no-name brand soft drinks at their wedding tasting.
But Maison Melbourne took legal action, claiming the couple did not give them enough time to find a new booking and demanded they pay 75 per cent of their planned $16,000 reception.
The dispute was taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which ordered Sohn and Conway to pay $12,500 for the wedding and a reception they never had.