Alarm bells ring over bungled weddings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 3:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 5:28am

A horrified bride embarrassed when a wedding celebrant mispronounced her name and a groom given the wrong vows to recite are among an increasing number of people complaining to the consumer watchdog about their special day.

Some 29 newlyweds filed complaints to the Consumer Council about poor service by civil celebrants and wedding organisers last year, almost double the 15 who complained in 2012.

In one case, a woman paid HK$5,000 to have a particular lawyer act as celebrant. Three weeks before her wedding last year she was told he was unavailable due to his busy schedule.

The celebrant who took his place pronounced the woman's name incorrectly during the ceremony, leaving her feeling embarrassed when the wedding video was played to her friends at the banquet that evening.

Another man paid a wedding planner HK$29,000 for the ceremony and catering. He had chosen to deliver specially written vows, but on the day of the wedding was presented with the traditional ones to recite instead. Guests were left hungry as there was not enough food, and a toilet at the venue would not flush.

Professor Ron Hui Shu-yuen, a member of the council's publicity and community relations committee, said that wedding ceremonies had grown in popularity since the government eased restrictions on timings and venues in 2006, under legislation that also allowed solicitors and notaries to act as celebrants.

"To avoid any embarrassment, those who have a complicated name should remind civil celebrants of the correct pronunciation," he advised.

The number of marriages recorded increased from 58,400 in 2011 to 60,500 in 2012. As of November last year, the city had 1,906 registered civil celebrants.