WEDDING couples have been left in the lurch by the shock closure of a Huddersfield hotel.
Several couples who booked their big day at the Lodge Hotel in Birkby now face a desperate race to find alternative venues.
Couples yesterday received letters from the hotel returning their £200 deposits and apologising for the closure.
The letter blamed the move on "adverse publicity" after plans were put forward this year to turn the hotel into flats.
The letters arrived yesterday - just hours after anxious couples contacted the Examiner complaining that phone calls, letters and emails to the hotel were not being answered.
Customers visiting the hotel on Birkby Lodge Road said they had found it shut up and in darkness.
Huddersfield Register Office contacted eight couples who booked civil ceremonies at the hotel after hearing about the closure from staff at the Pennine Manor Hotel, Scapegoat Hill.
Carrie France, wedding organiser at the Pennine Manor, said five couples due to wed at the Lodge Hotel had contacted her in the past two weeks, hoping to switch venues.
"We have been able to help two couples," she said. "But there may be many more who have booked receptions over the summer and autumn and are unaware of the problem.
"It is particularly upsetting, because we are talking about people's big day."
Louise Hamer, 30, and Nicholas Jackson, 40, who were due to wed at the Lodge Hotel in August, have been able to switch to the Pennine Manor.
But the Elland couple will have to pay a second £60 fee to the registrar for their civil ceremony.
Louise said: "We have been phoning the Lodge Hotel two or three times a day since the beginning of March, but got no answer.
"It is disgraceful. Even if we get our deposits back it is the principle of the thing."
Tania Smith and Peter Smith, both 24, plan to marry in July.
Tania said hotel staff had originally assured her that the planning proposal would not affect her wedding.
Now the couple, who sent out 160 invitations to guests, have to find somewhere else.
But Tania, of Lindley, said the hotel had behaved honourably in writing to her and returning the deposit.
Heather Walker, 41, and Peter Hey, 44, of Golcar, who have switched their May 20 wedding to the Hey Green Hotel at Marsden, also face paying a second £60 fee to the registrar. Heather said they would also have to send fresh invitations to 100 guests, including people coming from Manchester and London.
She added: "We have been very lucky to find somewhere else. We had booked the whole of the Lodge Hotel.
"I rang the hotel only a month ago to make sure things were OK and there was no suggestion of any problems."
Bradley couple Janice Booth, 43, and Mark Jessop, 41, (pictured on previous page), who are due to marry in June, now hope to hold their wedding at Ossett.
Said Janice: "We chose the Lodge Hotel without even thinking about comparing prices.
"We had our first meal together at the Lodge and we think of it as our special place."
She said that the owners had assured her that the hotel applying for planning permission would not affect the wedding plans.
The Examiner's calls to the hotel have gone unanswered.