Like any bride, Amanda Sanchez expects a little Hollywood drama at her April wedding. But Bollywood drama?
"I started crying," she said.
Rewind to April 2013: Amanda and Chris Phillips are engaged at the batting cage where they like to blow off steam. Quickly, the happy couple begins planning a dream wedding for April 26, 2014. And they settle on hosting both the ceremony and the reception at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.
"Outdoor ceremony, indoor reception," she said. "They sold me on their ballroom."
Everything was arranged. Venue? Set. Flowers? Done. Music? Check. And so, invitations went out to 82 people Wednesday morning.
That same night, the phone rang.
Just 94 days shy of the big day, Sanchez's meticulous planning took a sudden U-turn when the Hilton abruptly cancelled.
Nabil Salloum, general manager of the hotel, said the hotel must make room for IIFA, the International Indian Film Academy Awards, which will take place in Tampa at the same time. Even though the Hilton hotel boasts 30,000 square feet of event space, Salloum said there simply isn't any room for the Sanchez-Phillips wedding and India's Oscars.
"The IIFA is going to be taking up every single inch of space, of our ballroom space, and we will not be able to accommodate both," he said.
Sanchez is dumbfounded, yet she realizes what's at play in being one-upped by India's A-list.
"[IIFA] is going be a much more big ticket event than our little 80-person wedding," she said.
Salloum apologized, but said the Hilton is merely exercising a clause that is outlined in the contract that both parties signed.
Sanchez acknowledges that she signed a contract that gives the property an out. Still, she's miffed.
"It is extremely frustrating because not too many places are going to have the same date open," Sanchez said.
Salloum said the hotel is refunding Sanchez's deposit. It has also found an alternative Hilton location in St. Petersburg and offered a cash payment to cover expenses such as new invitations.
"I'm not exactly sure how much it is going to be, but it is going to be at least 50 percent of what the wedding was going to cost her," he said.
Sanchez said she'll have to visit the St. Petersburg location before she decides whether it will work. Then reality set in. Her wedding is three months away—and she's not sure where it will take place.
"I can't be picky at this point," she added.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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