Wedding reception plans go up in flames

FOR every blushing bride, their big day is the culmination of months of careful planning.

And as the big day approaches, fingers will be crossed that everything goes smoothly and no disasters strike.

But forgetful best men or rowdy wedding guests pale into insignificance compared with what Lucy Stevens and her husband-to-be are facing – their reception venue has been burnt to the ground in a suspected arson attack.

Miss Stevens, 25, woke to the news on Monday that the Officers’ Club at St John’s Green in Colchester had been destroyed by fire.

In a phone call from her future husband Matthew Bennett’s best man – which Miss Stevens admitted she thought was a hoax – she learnt that their August 14 wedding plans had been thrown into disarray.

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Miss Stevens, of Rowhedge, said: “We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at first. We are just having to get our heads round it as we don’t have a choice.”

Fears were raised yesterday that the paperwork relating to future events at the club – including all contact details – had been lost in the blaze.

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The former Thomas Lord Audley pupil said she drove down to the site and managed to get a contact number for the club owner from a police officer.

She said: “I said to him, I am meant to be having my wedding reception here. He replied: ‘I can tell you that you won’t be’.”

Miss Stevens and her fiancee now face finding a new venue or holding their reception in the grounds of the officers’ club in a hired marquee.

They will also have to inform their 140 guests of the change in plans.

Miss Stevens, a nurse at Colchester General Hospital, said: “I have talked to another venue who may be able to take us and they are getting back to me.

“The manager at the club said she could try to get a marquee – apparently you can get them with kitchens and everything – but we are not sure yet what we are going to do.”

Police and the fire service have launched a joint investigation into the blaze which is being treated as suspicious.

The EADT revealed yesterday how club members had only last week held a celebration party after taking over the freehold of the club after a 10-year battle.

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