WHEN these couples invested in a wedding planner, they thought she’d take the stress OUT of their big days.
But unfortunately they fell victim to heartless Dana Twidale, who fraudulently swindled 24 couples out of £15,000 in payments for wedding decorations and buffets.
Twidale, from Hull, East Yorks, was jailed for five years on Monday – after pleading guilty to 26 counts of fraud at her last hearing in May.She also scammed her boyfriend out of £57,000.
Here, four brides who were swindled out of hundreds of pounds by Twidale tell Fabulous their stories…
Zoe and Gary Giles – “Kindness saved our day after Dana left us high and dry”
“As we tucked into our delicious restaurant meal, the atmosphere was charged with excitement and love.
“My husband-to-be, Gary, and I were dining with my parents and sister as a pre-celebration to our wedding the next day.
“We’re both on our second marriages so, although we weren’t having a lavish affair, it was made extra special because we knew we’d found The One.
“When Gary’s phone rang, he stood up to take it outside, ‘It’s the photographer,’ he mouthed.
“I watched him speaking with curiosity, wondering what could have prompted the call. As I looked, I could see that he was becoming agitated and suddenly started to cry.”
It turned out their photographer had seen comments online about their wedding planner, Dana Twidale, with brides and grooms up in arms after finding out she had done a runner with all their money.
Brides and grooms [were] up in arms after finding out she had done a runner with all their money
Their hearts plummeted as they realised if this was the case they were doomed – their wedding was planned for the next day, Saturday July 27, 2019, with a 4pm ceremony at the registry office and reception afterwards at the village hall in the market town of Pocklington, East Yorks.
And Dana Twidale was responsible for organising everything for the wedding of Zoe and groom, security worker Gary, 49.
Charity shop worker and mum-of-two Zoe, 46, said: “We got involved with Dana around 18 months before our wedding date, we paid her £550 in two instalments for her to arrange our buffet for 80 guests, chair covers, dressing the room with balloons and a photobooth.
“It would be impossible to arrange all of that in such short notice.
“We left the restaurant straight away and began an exercise in salvaging our wedding.
“We called the local pub, the Fleece Inn, and asked them if they could do our food for us.
“Unbeknown to us, they also got the wheels in motion to provide us with a wedding we will never forget.
“The day of our actual wedding was started with a phone call to the police – not quite what we’d expected.
“We visited the hall and took a look, it looked plain and unappealing but at least we had food and a DJ, that we’d booked separately.
“When we got to the reception after saying our vows, when we were greeted by an entryway of fairy lights, we looked at each other in surprise and anticipation.
“When we entered the hall, it was dressed beautifully. A woman in the village had pulled together a team to create an elegant room of our dreams. We couldn’t believe it.
“It was better than anything Dana could have done.
“The whole room had been decorated by complete strangers. The amount of gratitude and community spirit in that hall that night was amazing.
“Our wedding was a tale of two completely opposing sets of people – those who take and make people’s lives a misery and those that fill it with love and kindness.
“We will be forever grateful to the villagers for making our day special, against all odds, with no thanks to that despicable woman.”
Kaylie Norrie and Sean Lane – “We were ripped off by a trusted family friend”
“I was absolutely delighted that our wedding planner was able to offer us such a great deal.
“I would be able to have the wedding that would be the envy of my friends.
“I had been with my fella, Sean, since we were 14 and he’d finally asked me to marry him at my 30th birthday party, in front of everyone.
“We already had two children, so I wasted no time in cracking on to get our plans into place. We set the date of June 6, 2020, and we decided on the Dunswell Park wedding venue in Hull, East Yorks.
“It turned out that Sean’s dad was friends with the brother of a wedding planner called Dana Twidale, having grown up on the same estate together, so we were promised a fair price.
“Dana’s brother said she was really great and had a lot of happy customers. We visited her Facebook page, and we could see raving reviews.
“So, when she promised us all our catering, with a carvery for the day for 75 and a pizza buffet for the night for 150 people for a knock-down price of £500 we couldn’t believe it.
“She said she was completely knocking off her payment as that was the least she could do for a family friend.
“We felt privileged to know somebody who would look after us.”
Hairdresser Kaylie, 32, and warehouse supervisor, Sean, 33, from Hull, had paid for Dana’s services by bank transfer.
In a bitter twist, Dana turned up to their home the day before she disappeared to tell them she could get them a photographer for a cut-down price of £200 if she paid them there and then.
Kaylie said: “Her car outside was filled to the brim with wedding gear, she said she was on her way to York to dress a venue.
We were gutted. It felt like a smack in the face. We couldn’t believe that she’d visited us for extra money
“She had a chat with Sean, with them talking about the good old days, and then she went off with our money.
“The next day Facebook blew up with accusations of her ripping brides off.
“We thought it couldn’t be true, we’d only seen her the day before.
“We naively thought we’d get to the bottom of it, with us knowing her family.
“But sure enough her brother told us it was true, he said they didn’t know where she was, and it was very upsetting for them as they were getting a lot of nasty phone calls too.
“We were gutted. It felt like a smack in the face. We couldn’t believe that she’d visited us for extra money as she was on her way off to the sunset.
“I rang the bank to explain what had happened and the fraud department there said there was a red flag on this case, and they immediately refunded our money.
“But we paid the £200 in cash, so we won’t see that again.
“Our wedding was postponed for Covid so now we are hoping to be married in July 2022.
“But this time we are being very careful with our planning. We will not be taken for fools again.”
Nikki Pepper and Craig Cooke – “We’ve had to pay for our wedding twice”
“We looked at our bank balance and we had saved up over £1,000. It was amazing.
“Craig is a warehouse worker and I’m a stay-at-home mum. Money is tight but we love each other so much, and we decided we wanted to have the wedding of our dreams.
“It is only one day, and we wanted to make it special. We had been putting away so much every week and we were delighted when we could see large amounts and we could start putting our plans into place.
“My sister was also getting married and was using a wedding planner called Dana.
“I though that using a planner would be more expensive but, because she had brilliant contacts it meant she always had good deals on offer.
“We got in touch with her and had a Facetime meeting, she told us we could have the car, venue decoration, sweet cart, all flowers – including buttonholes – and a chocolate fountain, all for £980.
“We snapped her hand off and paid her for our wedding on July 24, 2020.
“In the meantime, my sister cancelled her wedding and Dana gave her a refund. We had no reason at all to think that anything would go wrong.”
But the pair, from Doncaster, South Yorks., were about to be delivered a blow.
“I was on a night out with my sister in July 2019 when I got a phone call from Craig to tell me Facebook had gone crazy with accusations that Dana was a conwoman who had robbed everybody’s money,” said Nikki.
“I went straight home in a mad rush.
“It turned out we had lost everything. Dana had taken our money and our dreams.
“The next day we spoke to our bank, who put us in touch with their fraud department and then the police, but we have never gotten anything back. We have had to start saving from scratch again.
“As we had the venue in place, we were having to try scrabble together to get enough funds in time for our wedding.
It turned out we had lost everything. Dana had taken our money and our dreams
“But when Covid hit we lost our wedding venue too. We have had another problem with our wedding venue and have lost money there too.
“We’ve now had to save all over again for the whole wedding. It’s heart-breaking.
“We don’t have much money and we work hard for what we have. It’s not fair. We’re now getting married in July, this year, which is very soon.
“We should be excited, but we feel that so much has gone wrong and it feels so tainted that we just want it to be done and dusted. That is not how you should feel about your wedding day.
“It’s supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.”
Emma and Adam Baxter – “We were ghosted by wedding swindler”
“I sent another message to my wedding planner, Dana Twidale, ‘I would like to arrange to meet’, I typed.
“I was getting increasingly frustrated with this woman. My husband’s cousin had got married using her and had had no problem, but I had booked her services in July 2018 for my wedding on August 31, 2019, and still hadn’t even met her.
“I had paid £600 for venue dressing, giant lit-up LOVE letters, my cake and cupcakes, a donut wall, a Ferrero Rocher stand, a photobooth, sweet cart, centre pieces on all tables, chair covers and sashes and a post box and back drop.
“If I hadn’t have seen this at my cousin’s wedding, I would have thought this offer was too good to be true, but I had seen it with my own eyes.
“But it was really frustrating as she was very difficult to get hold of. I had wanted to meet her in person, and certainly wanted her to come and see our venue so she had an idea of where to put everything.”
Emma, who is manager of a care home, 29, was only six weeks away from her wedding to self-employed joiner, Adam, 30, and she was getting jittery.
The paid had had a very long engagement after Adam proposed in 2012, just a year after their meeting.
Seven years and two kids later they had finally set a date.
Emma, from Bradford, West Yorks., said: “I understood that she was busy, she had a lot of weddings on her books, but she answered my texts and phone calls when she felt like it.
“She was also very cold and to-the-point, she wasn’t warm and friendly.
“I didn’t think it was a good way to run a business.
“My wedding was approaching fast, and I wanted to make sure everything was in order.”
Unbeknown to Emma, after a text conversation with Dana in July, in which she convinced her pay an extra £80 for a limo for the day, she would never hear from her again.
“My cousin called me on July 26, last year, and told me I better check Facebook, and I saw for myself the horror of all these brides in utter turmoil to find out Dana had done a runner with their money.
She knows brides are willing to pay for their special day and she treat us all like mugs
“I tried to call Dana for myself, to see what was going on, but of course she didn’t answer, as usual. This time she never did return my call.
“I soon realised I’d been had. Dana had taken £680 of our money and all our wedding plans along with it.
“I was frantic with worry as I only had five weeks to arrange everything again. She had promised so much that I was sure I would not be able to achieve the wedding she had sold us.
“Luckily, many of the firms she had used were offering their services for less to help out those let down by her.
“We did get married on our wedding date and we did have a wonderful day, but it could have been a very different story. We never did get our money back.
“What a disgusting woman for doing that to people who save up for an important day. She knows brides are willing to pay for their special day and she treat us all like mugs.”
Plus I'm a recovered sex addict – but still can't be friends with men.
Meanwhile this woman had her first pregnancy at 14 and three kids by 19.
And meet the daughter who shares her husband with her mum.
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