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Couples scramble to reschedule weddings after abrupt closure of Courtyard Restaurant

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Several couples who had planned weddings at the Courtyard Restaurant in Ottawa's ByWard Market are scrambling to find new venues after the restaurant announced Tuesday afternoon it would be closing its doors for good.

The announcement from The Courtyard came just hours before the restaurant closed up shop, leaving those who had booked ahead without a venue and without a refund.

The nearby Restaurant E18hteen found itself suddenly inundated with requests.

"By the time I got to work, I had over 50 emails in my inbox," said Restaurant E18hteen event coordinator Kimberly Ryan on Wednesday. "It's been beyond a whirlwind. I had a frazzled bride come over to my other venue to see if we could accommodate a wedding for her in two days. She was supposed to get married at the Courtyard today."

In this particular case, the staff at Restaurant E18hteen on York Street were able to accommodate the couple and set up a last-minute wedding.

"It's so sad to see these couples who made a life decision where they want to have their wedding and have that pulled out from under them," Ryan said. "It's really sad to see and I'm doing my best to get them into our venues."

The abrupt closure of the Courtyard — a 40-year fixture in the market — has sent shockwaves through the local wedding industry.

"It's certainly one that has impacted me so deeply. I have six other couples," said wedding photographer Kathi Robertson. "We're busy scrambling."

Karim Pringle and his fiancé Jason were set to get married at the Courtyard in August. Pringle put down a $1,000 deposit in 2022 and has since been told he can't get it back.

"Unfortunately, we will be unable to refund any deposits or payments taken thus far nor be able to transfer any payments to your new venue," said a letter Pringle received from the Courtyard. 

The letter suggested he dispute the charge with his credit card company, serving as proof that no services were provided, but Pringle says his appeal was denied.

"Because it was in 2022, they said it's too long ago, so we can't do that," he said. "Our whole venue was the Courtyard. We had booked the whole upper floor."

The owner of the Courtyard Restaurant declined to speak to CTV News Ottawa.

Pringle, meanwhile, said he and his fiancé are on the hunt for a new venue.

"Every one of us that is in this position, you're not just trying to find a new venue or starting from zero, you're starting from a negative because that deposit you spent, you don't have," he said.

"I took Friday off and we're going to spend all day seeing venues." 

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jackie Perez.

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