A couple who chose a top venue for their wedding is fighting to get money back after failing to get an assurance on their booking.
Cassels, located on Scenic Drive amidst the native bush of the Waitakere Ranges, has cancelled two winter weddings and is still dealing with the same unspecified business issues.
"At this stage nothing has happened that has affected other weddings...if they [customers] are nervous, I'm sorry," Cassels co-owner Scott Browne told the Herald on Sunday. "But I don't want to lie to them and give them assurances I can't at this point. Until I get a little bit further through trying to resolve the couple of issues we have got, I really don't have answers.
"I know it's not very informative. We are doing everything in our power to protect brides. As much as I don't want to tell brides to rush away and start looking at other venues, if they are that nervous I don't want to tell them not to, either. Because I can't control the eventual outcome at this stage."
In November Alice Newman and her fiancé Reuben Clark, both 36, paid $1000 to book for February 16 next year.
They sought assurances after reading about the recent cancellations on social media, and were told "at this stage no other weddings are affected".
After seeing more posts on social media Newman contacted Cassels, but there was no response to her messages. After talking to another couple in the same position, on March 20 they asked Cassels for the $1000 to be refunded. There was no response, Newman said, and they are now booked at another venue.
"It is basically us just handing them $1000," Newman said. "They haven't cancelled on us, but they haven't confirmed our date.
"You are spending a lot on your wedding day. It's not just any day, it's your big day. And you want that date solid. Not all up in the air. It's not a nice feeling."
Browne, who took on part ownership of Cassels with his wife Leigh in 2015, said the $1000 wasn't a deposit, but a non-refundable booking fee covering administration and other costs.
Cassels' terms and conditions state a booking and confirmation of a wedding date isn't "accepted or final" until the fee is paid, and it is not refundable and deducted from the final invoice.
The business needed to retain weddings "to get through the other issues", Browne said. Asked if Newman and Clark should get the money back given the circumstances, he said he couldn't say.
"Because that's not a decision I get to make…in my view, if it is possible to give people back booking fees if we cancel their weddings, I would love to be able to do that. But at this stage, we are not looking to cancel weddings."
Cassels is a well-known and popular Auckland wedding venue. Situated on a 4058 sq m site the purpose-built venue contains an Italian gazebo and lily pond with French fountain, and has operated as a wedding and event centre for over 18 years.
Browne said he couldn't outline the business issues affecting wedding bookings. Apart from the Brownes, there are three other shareholders in the company that owns 1012 Scenic Drive. He described speculation on social media as panic-inducing "drivel".
"We have some issues as a business that we are also trying to work through, that involve other shareholders. But we are hoping we will get those resolved and the business will continue to operate as normal.
"I have a perceived outcome I would like us to get to. Until I know I have got to it, no business can give a guarantee that in two years' time we are going to be here. I'm an accountant, I don't think a single one of my clients could necessarily give that guarantee."
Browne said given the uncertainty a call was made to cancel the winter weddings so the couples could find other venues, which Cassels assisted with.
"We were gutted having to do that…our livelihood is tied up in here, we want to make it work and do everything to protect [customers] at the same time."