A Chorley bride on cloud nine following her fairy-tale wedding abroad, was brought back to reality when her bespoke dress was stolen.
Newlyweds Kelly-Louise and Gavin Phillips had just flown into Rome after their three-day wedding celebrations at a villa in the outskirts of Siena in Italy.
Little did they know that when they parked their car to explore the ancient city they would find themselves left with just the clothes on their backs.
“We must have left the car for all of nine minutes,” said 31 year old Kelly-Louise, who designed her own wedding gown and had the £5,000 dress tailor made in Dubai.
The former Southlands pupil added: “My feet had blisters from all the dancing at the wedding so we went back to the car.
“We’d left our three suitcases in the boot and my wedding dress and Gav’s suit were hanging up in the back seats.
“The car was completely empty.
“My first thought was that we’d opened the wrong car,” she added.
As the reality of the theft began to sink in Kelly-Louise and Gavin, 32, whose job as a office furniture manager was relocating the couple from Dubai to Australia, started frantically searching for the thieves who took their luggage.
“We were running up and down side streets hysterically looking for anyone dragging our suitcases,” said Kelly-Louise, who now has a wedding planning business in Melbourne.
“I called 113, the equivalent of 999, and was put on hold for 13 minutes which is ridiculous in an emergency.”
Eventually interpreters told Kelly-Louise that the police did not come out for thefts and told her to find the nearest police station.
“We found a police station online and ran there but they wouldn’t even let us in even though we were clearly distressed. They said we don’t deal with that because we don’t speak English. So we had to run 20 minutes to another police station.”
Meanwhile a friend had put in a call for the couple at the British Embassy who called Kelly-Louise to find out what had happened. The embassy official then called the police and demanded that they take a report from the couple so that when Kelly-Louise and Gavin, who is originally from Preston, needed to claim insurance they had evidence that they had reported the theft.
Kelly-Louise said: “When we told police about our belongings the officer laughed. I don’t understand how the could let the thieves get away like that. They took everything from us and the police gave them permission.
“Thankfully we had our passports in my handbag. The British Embassy had advised us to continue with our travel plans. We had a flight to Paris that evening. Gav had proposed there and we wanted a few days together to enjoy being married before we started work.
Going to the airport with only the clothes on our back and our passports was the most surreal feeling. We felt completely alone.”
As well as Kelly-Louise’s wedding dress, Gavin’s £2,500 suit was taken, one suitcase of their clothes and two suitcases full of decorations and wedding gifts.
The couple have now postponed their honeymoon because many of the gifts that their friends had given them were a financial contribution towards the holiday.