A couple whose dream wedding is in ruins after the collapse of Thomas Cook have had to deal with the added distress of abuse from online trolls.
Natasha Cairns (28) from Lurgan and her fiance Andrew Hagan (28) have spent the past 18 months planning their perfect day on the beach in Protaras, Cyprus, with 49 close friends and family.
The couple had been counting down the days to their wedding on October 16.
Although they have lost every penny of their savings, their main worry yesterday was for their guests who have also lost out, three of whom are travelling from Australia.
In total, including their friends’ costs, they estimate that the final bill will be £45,000.
Natasha has spent the last few days in tears as she tries to come to terms with the shattering news that the perfect day she has put her heart into planning will not take place.
While friends were quick to offer their support, the couple were shocked to find themselves the victims of abuse from online trolls.
Natasha said: “It is atrocious the messages I have been getting. It is crazy how nasty some people can be.
“We have had people saying how stupid we were for booking our wedding abroad and accusing us of trying to make a sob story out of it. We even had comments about my appearance.
“I am just devastated. I don’t know how people want us to feel.
“People have been so mean and we are not looking for handouts or a sympathy vote. We are both genuinely heartbroken that our wedding is ruined.
“Friends have offered to put up a GoFundMe page but we don’t want that, as we know there are people a lot worse off than us.
“It’s not about the money, although we have lost a lot.
“We didn’t want to start married life in debt so we have been saving hard for our wedding and every single penny we had went into it.”
Natasha, a hairdresser, and Andrew, a plumber, have been together since they were 16.
The couple got engaged two years ago during a holiday in Australia when Andrew popped the question in a romantic beach proposal.
Andrew said: “We have been together since we were 16 and we love travelling and had been on a few city breaks.
“We had a big trip to New York and everyone thought I was going to propose then, even Natasha, which is why I didn’t do it. I wanted it to be a complete surprise.
“We went to Australia to visit my best friend for three weeks and I waited until two nights before we were due to go home so that she had no idea.
“I took Natasha to the beach to watch the sun set and then I hid behind a tree and carved out ‘will you marry me’ in the sand.
“We wanted to buy a house before we started to save for our wedding and because we love to travel we thought it made sense to do it abroad. It was also a lot cheaper than having a big wedding at home.”
The wedding was booked in April this year and cost the couple £4,000 for the travel, hotel and ceremony. They feel fortunate that they had only paid deposits for the entertainment and reception.
They have also forked out thousands on a wedding dress, three bridesmaids’ dresses and the groom’s suit with three matching suits for his groomsmen, as well as flowers.
To celebrate with friends who couldn’t make it to Cyprus, they have also booked an evening party in the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown in November which they will now have to cancel.
In total the couple have spent £13,000 and believe with the money their guests have spent on flights and accommodation that a total of £45,000 is lost.
The couple spent Monday and yesterday trying to contact Thomas Cook without success.
Natasha added: “We don’t want to go and get married really quietly for the sake of it, we want to do it right but we can’t afford it now.
“We both worked so hard putting in long hours to save for our wedding and it was going to be perfect, everything I had dreamed of.
“We really have no idea what we are going to do now.”