Armagh bride-to-be devastated after Thomas Cook dream wedding trip is left in tatters
A distraught bride-to-be has told how she wept after her £5,500 dream wedding in Cyprus was shattered when Thomas Cook went bust.
Leanne Rafferty (39) was due to fly from Belfast International Airport to the Mediterranean island on October 2 to make the final preparations ahead of her big day on Monday, October 7.
But the mum-of-three spent yesterday "in floods of tears" after the collapse of the travel company left the nuptials package she'd arranged for herself and fiance Paddy Devlin (39) in tatters.
The Co Armagh woman, who booked her wedding holiday at a branch of Thomas Cook in Portadown, also revealed that the company still hasn't contacted her and she only learned about its collapse on the news.
"This is a complete nightmare," she said. "Neither Paddy or I slept on Sunday night. It's been awful. I don't think it has really sunk in yet. No-one from Thomas Cook has been in touch. The last communication we had was an email last week saying that everything was fine... but of course nothing could be further from the truth."
Leanne revealed the couple have already spent around £5,500 on the special package holiday and that it was "only a small relief" she had opted to pay the balance after the wedding.
"Our flights and hotel cost £4,700 but I've also already spent £300 on a deposit for the photographer and more on other incidentals, and paying the solicitor's fees for a wedding certificate as well," she said.
"If we don't get married that week it will expire and that will be dead money too.
"Everything was booked through Thomas Cook - hair and makeup, photographer, food etc - but thankfully I was due to pay the balance over there.
"Everything is ready to go. But if we can't get there with another operator then we won't be able to get married this side of Christmas."
Leanne, who works in childcare, said they were due to leave Northern Ireland tomorrow week with two other couples who'd been invited to the wedding and who had each also spent "at least £2,100" on the special getaway.
The couple have a son, Fintan (3) and daughter, Clodagh (19 months), and Leanne said she had asked her father to look after the children while they were away.
"The six of us have all booked time off work, as well as my dad, and we're all left wondering what to do," she said.
"It's awful. I haven't been to bed all night and I've cried all morning. I don't have £5,500 to go and rebook it. And our friends can't afford to do that either. I don't think the wedding is going to happen - at least not in Cyprus."
Leanne has an 18-year-old son from a previous relationship, while Paddy, an engineer, has three other children, but the two of them have been together for five years and were looking forward to finally tying the knot.
"Nobody can believe this has happened. We were meant to finish work on Friday and enjoy the build-up to it and now this has happened. It's horrendous. Not just for us, but for everybody who's been affected by it."
Leanne said that "of all the things you worry about in the run-up to the wedding, this isn't one of them". She added: "We would like to get married this side of Christmas but at the minute we just don't know what we're doing. We will get married. It's just a question of when now."