By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — The pandemic shut down the wedding of their dreams at a Countryside hotel for two couples, and the hotel says it is not giving back the money.

The two couples say the Holiday Inn is holding on to thousands of dollars for those weddings that never happened.

Ryan and Caitlin Hansen’s wedding day on Aug. 28 was beautiful — and within the state’s pandemic-related restrictions — but it wasn’t the wedding they spent months planning at the Holiday Inn in Countryside because they say the wedding couldn’t happen.

“They never once contacted us with any type of alternative,” said Ryan. “The week of the wedding we called them and said, ‘Can we hold our wedding there this week?’ And they said, ‘No, we don’t have staff. Our kitchen is closed.”

The Hansens are out about $4,000 for a wedding they say the hotel canceled — not them.

“They are now refusing to give our money back we paid them, even though they were not able to hold our wedding and weren’t doing events at all,” he said.

That money was a gift. Ryan’s mom had helped them plan the wedding at the Holiday Inn. She had helped picked the date.

“She was helping us through the whole way,” Ryan said.

She passed away from breast cancer before she could see them getting married.

“That date was important to us. It was the last thing my mom knew,” he said.

They say at one point the Holiday Inn promised a refund but later doubled back, citing the contract, even though they could not accommodate them on the contracted date.

The Hansens are not alone. Lindsey and DJ Clifford say they were promised a refund, too.

“It’s all COVID related,” said DJ.

They are out more than $11,000.

“It’s not OK. It’s not a little bit of money,” he said.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina reached the Holiday Inn Countryside several times. She received an answer from the general manager via email saying they are working with individuals based on the individual circumstances, but per contracts, canceled bookings forfeit their deposits. She claims the hotel is offering postponed events with guaranteed pricing.

Her full email is below:

We have worked with all groups and events to either reschedule there event or offer other hotel services to them.  Each event has different circumstances. 

Other future bookings have just cancelled and per the contract their deposits are forfeited.  We also are fully prepared to hold future events and have held events during this time based on the State Mandate.  We have offered the following:

  • Hold the event based on the State Mandate at the time of the event
  • Postpone the event and the contracted pricing would be guaranteed
  • Use the deposit for another event

We are working with individuals based on the individual circumstances.

“Our argument is we never canceled. We wanted our wedding there,” said Ryan

That email response is not enough for the couples.

“Corporate won’t even step in and tell them this is not right. You’re stealing. No services were provided,” said Caitlin.

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller says it all depends on the contract signed and whether the hotel is willing to work with the couples given the circumstances. It’s something they say they will continue to fight for despite the hotel’s response.

Tara Molina