Angry brides demand refunds after venue suddenly closes

Dozens of angry brides are demanding refunds after a popular Melbourne wedding reception centre suddenly closed its doors.

Frantic couples are scrambling to find new venues in the wake of The Willows Reception Centre shutting up shop after financial difficulties.

Rhiannen Skelley is due to marry the man of her dreams next Saturday but her $8000 wedding reception has been abruptly cancelled by the venue which closed down on Friday night.

The Melbourne wedding venue abruptly closed on Friday evening. Source: 7News

“It’s devastating because you have a vision and now that vision is ruined,” Ms Skelley said.

The closure has left dozens of brides heartbroken and thousands of dollars out of pocket.

“It cost us our first home deposit,” Ms Skelley said.

Rhiannen Skelley has paid the price of her house deposit to the wedding venue. Source: 7News
The venue has failed to notify customers of the closure and are unavailable for comment. Source: 7News

Weeks before The Willows went into voluntary administration, staff contacted couples promising them a discount if they pre-paid their weddings in full.

The couple paid $7000 upfront.

“I was shattered, I was really upset. I burst into tears. Six months to go until our wedding, what do I do now?” bride-to-be Annie McAlpine said.

Annie McAlpine and her partner are devastated by the news having shelled out $7000 in advance. Source: 7News

There’s no sign of owner Aaron Lewis and his wife Estelle who have operated the business since 2002.

Frantic couples say their wedding plans are in chaos and there’s no answer at The Willows.

“Come on, where’s a phone call, where’s an email theres no communication,” Ms McAlpine said.

Just what went wrong at this historic venue remains a mystery.

Customer reviews of the Willows range from high praise to criticism about cold steaks and warm beer.

Aaron Lewis has put his Mount Eliza home on the market, priced at $1.5 million.

There’s no information on the future of the St Kilda Road landmark or whether the devastated couples will receive a refund.

“It’s heartbreaking you get married one time and that was meant to be the dream place,” Ms McAlpine added.