Engaged couples have been left thousands of dollars out-of-pocket after the shock collapse of a popular NSW wedding venue, with no word on whether their big days will go ahead.

Wellsman, the company behind Newcastle venue 48 Watt Street and several related ventures, quietly went into liquidation on Monday.

The shock decision was announced via a short memo at the bottom of the venue’s website, buried under photos and testimonies from former brides and grooms.

“Mitch Griffiths of Rapsey Griffiths was appointed Liquidator of Wellsman Pty Limited trading as 48 Watt Street on 17 July 2023,” the statement said, before providing creditors with a contact email for liquidators.

Many of 48 Watt Street’s clients say they found out about the company’s collapse on social media. The venue’s Instagram page is filled with comments from confused and out-of-pocket clients asking whether they will be reimbursed.

Attendees for a ticketed Harry Potter-themed event said they arrived at the venue on Friday to find its gates locked and staff nowhere to be seen.

“As we aren’t local, we travelled down to Newcastle, so our group is out of pocket for travel and accommodation. Went past the venue and it is all set up for the night/s which is very confusing … Really disappointing,” one disgruntled ticketholder wrote.

A distraught bride-to-be, Emily Mursa, also demanded answers, writing: “I am trying to organise a refund / any information for my wedding?? Can someone please respond. I am very stressed!!”

Ms Mursa says she and her fiancee, who planned to wed at 48 Watt Street in December, are $10,000 out-of-pocket and haven’t been told whether they’ll get the money back.

“I’m 22, I’m a uni student, so that’s a lot of money,” she told the ABC.

A few days ago, less than six months out from her wedding, Ms Mursa says she received notice from the company that the venue may be sold.

“It was a long email and it didn’t really make sense,” she said.

“I emailed back and asked if I could get confirmation that we would have the venue for December and what the issue was.

“They responded saying they didn’t have any more details and we just needed to sit and wait.”

Another couple, Alison and Jeremy, were due to be married at 48 Watt Street in November after putting down a $7000 deposit.

“Vendors are booked, guests are coming from interstate, everything. Now we’ve got to start again,” Alison told NBN News.

The couple said they had received notice their money would not be returned.

It’s understood Wellsman went into liquidation after a lengthy struggle with declining revenue.

The property at 48 Watt Street officially went on the market earlier this week and will accept expressions of interest until August 17.

Commercial Collective describes the events space, which is the site of a former Gothic church, as “truly remarkable” and “seeped in history”.

“With its rich history, impeccable renovations, and prime location, this property presents an unrivalled opportunity for those seeking a distinctive and versatile venue,” a listing for the venue read.

“Whether for weddings, celebrations, or other special events, this property offers an unforgettable setting that blends old-world charm with modern elegance.”

The 640-square-metre property, complete with a commercial kitchen, 20th Century prayer hall and alfresco events space, is described as a “potential walk-in, walk-out opportunity” — a real estate term used when the vendor “walks out”, leaving all assets such as machinery and furniture behind.

Wellsman’s liquidation comes after several devastating collapses in the Australian wedding industry.

High-end wedding suppliers have been hardest hit as Aussies wind back on discretionary spending.

Helen Manuell, owner of Helen Manuell Bridal Couture, previously told news.com.au demand for her intricate handmade wedding dresses had dried up so drastically that she was learning a new profession.

“It was pretty obvious, as soon as the RBA starts mucking around with the interest rates, the first thing that’s going to go is the luxury end,” Ms Manuell said.

“Wedding dresses are a luxury. Couture — hand made wedding dresses like the ones I make — are beyond a luxury.”


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By Rahul

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