7 On Your Side

Wedding reception washed away by Hurricane Sandy

Friday, June 07, 2013

It was the perfect place to say "I do" until Superstorm Sandy washed the wedding hall away, leaving a Jersey shore couple with no reception venue.

They were heartbroken, but those tears turned to anger when they couldn't get their deposit back.

So many businesses were destroyed by the storm. This young couple understood it would take time to sort out refunds, but months went by without any answers.

We went to directly to Andrew Bott, owner of Merri-Makers, who owes scores of brides thousands apiece after Sandy's surge washed away their weddings.

"There was no response, no feedback. It was just horrible," Doreen Haegelen said.

The bride-to-be says she also got the cold shoulder from the owner of Merri Makers

"Not for nothing, he never even called back. He never even responded to the call," she said.

Doreen and John live on the beach and vacation at the beach, so when it came to get married they chose Merri-Makers on the beach in Sea Bright, putting down nearly 4-grand in deposits over a year ago.

"It was ideal, It was a one stop shop. We get married on the beach come inside and have the reception," Doreen said.

But a 7 months after Sandy, Merri-Makers is still not open.

And instead of sand and sea, Doreen says Merri-Makers offered a restaurant.

"I want a beach wedding. They want to put me up in a ristorante," she said.

So they asked Merri-Makers for a refund instead.

"Their timeline was we will get it in a week, then it was we will get your money in 2 weeks," John explained.

7 months later, they still had no refund, meaning no money to honeymoon.

"We've worked so hard, and now we can't go and celebrate," Doreen said.

Even though he's doing business at a number of other venues, owner Andy Bott told us he can't pay his Merri-Maker brides until he gets paid his insurance settlement from that venue being destroyed.

Finally, last week his business partners said yes to our offer to try and unsnag their insurance money as we have done for half a dozen other Sandy victims. And this week? Doreen and John received their refund.

Finally, they can pay for that Jersey shore wedding they wanted all along.

Merri-Makers says 60 couples are affected and they've already sent out partial payments to many of them. They vow to pay all in full once their insurance payout arrives. As for Doreen and John they're rescheduled wedding is a week from today at another venue, on the beach of course.

(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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