Couple wed on Hastings Pier after anxious build-up

Stuart Simons married James Parsons on Saturday, July 21
Stuart Simons married James Parsons on Saturday, July 21

A St Leonards man whose wedding plans were disrupted following the sale of Hastings Pier said owner Abid Gulzar and his team ‘could have done no more’ to facilitate him and his husband on their big day.

Dog groomer Stuart Simons, 44 – who moved back down to St Leonards after 25 years living in East London – married James Parsons, 46, on Hastings Pier on Saturday, July 21, a little more than a month after Mr Gulzar purchased it.

Stuart Simons married James Parsons on Saturday, July 21

Stuart Simons married James Parsons on Saturday, July 21

In the days following Mr Gulzar’s purchase, members of pier staff who had helped Stuart and James plan their big day quit their jobs and, according to Stuart, turned the couple’s ‘world upside down’.

Stuart said: “We had pretty much everything prepared with the caterers, catering managers and wedding organisers and with just three weeks to go didn’t really think we had a worry in the world. The day was set as far as we knew and all the plans had been made. That is until it was sold to Mr Gulzar.

“Suddenly our world got turned upside down. Social media started a hate campaign, the catering manager, caterers and chef and wedding planner all left with no notice leaving James and I totally out in the cold as to what was going to happen to our special day.

“We had heard that Mr Gulzar was going to honour all of the events on the pier but we knew little else and time was ticking.”

Stuart, who runs three businesses – including pet supply store Tails of St Leonards – said he had no time to discuss his plans to a brand new team.

The couple – who have been together for 16 years – met with Mr Gulzar and his assistant Manas Singh who agreed to continue the plans as they had been arranged.

He added: “Manas could have done no more to facilitate the wedding. He and Mr Gulzar went out of their way to calm us down and to reassure us that they would deliver us the best wedding day possible. Yes, I had doubts but I shouldn’t have.

“The whole team led by Manas worked so hard on the day but worked with a sense of fun and genuine excitement for us. There was no stone left unturned. They thought of everything. Even down to extra food on the buffet and flying the gay pride flags from the pier for the whole day.

“They also transported all my guests from the entrance to the pier to the venue in the little golden buggies.

“I cannot thank Mr Gulzar and Manas enough for their amazing work on our wedding day. It was absolutely perfect from beginning to end.

“I am not the easiest person to please but Mr Gulzar and his team did a wonderful job.”

Mr Gulzar – who allowed Stuart’s dogs onto the pier to be part of the ceremony – said he was thrilled the marriage went how the couple had wanted.

He added: “This is a great example of how my staff will deliver the very best service for the community.

“We were determined from the outset, as we always are, that our customer service would be 100 per cent. And it was. My team was very meticulous from the start and we were determined to do our very best for them.

“They were thrilled and so was I. It is just one example of how we can develop the business to be a perfect destination for weddings.

“And we will look to expand this into other events as well, whether it be conferences, special events or funerals.

“We will treat our customers with 100 per cent respect and deliver the perfect service.”