It was considered the culmination of the best day of his life.
But for newlywed British couple Emma and Stuart Seaton, their dream honeymoon was nothing short of a nightmare after the bride was struck by food poisoning.
And she wasn’t alone: 28 guests who attended her wedding at The Manor at Bickle in Bromley, London, reported feeling sick with similar symptoms.
According to the CDC, one in six Americans (48 million people) suffer from food poisoning or foodborne illness each year. Food poisoning occurs when infectious organisms such as bacteria, parasites or viruses, or toxins contaminate food during production.
Contamination can also result from improper handling or cooking of food. Symptoms are severe, ranging from headache and fever to dehydration, diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps.
Suffering as a result of food poisoning is hard enough, but it is almost unthinkable to do so during what is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life.
When 34-year-old Emma and 35-year-old Stuart chose the venue for their wedding reception on March 30, 2018, they did so after two years of planning and hearing positive things about the venue.
There were plans to fly to Los Angeles just two days after the ceremony, with a jam-packed honeymoon itinerary that included a trip to Disneyland California, a Hawaiian cruise, and a few days in LA.
However, during the flight to California, Emma began to experience irregular feelings in her stomach which soon developed into fever and diarrhea.
As the honeymoon progressed, these health issues continued, with Emma also suffering from headaches, dehydration, disrupted sleep, weight loss and painful abdominal cramps.
Problems persisted throughout their visit, leaving the couple unable to enjoy the vacation they had planned for so long, with Emma needing access to a bathroom approximately every 20 minutes, and her increasingly uncomfortable situation. Due to not being able to use public transport.
This forced him to spend more on commuting in taxis, while for most of the journey he was receiving messages from wedding guests that he too had fallen ill. Of the 180 guests who attended the wedding, 28 reported feeling ill.
When they returned home, Emma and Stuart enlisted the services of the law firm Leigh Day, who brought a legal case against the venue on behalf of the couple and several wedding guests.
A report from Public Health England later concluded that there had been an outbreak of Campylobacter among guests at The Manor at Bickley that day, most likely due to the chicken liver pate served at the reception.
According to the CDC, Campylobacter infection, or campylobacteriosis, “is the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal disease in the US,” with about 20 cases per 100,000 people each year.
Leigh Day’s attorneys Angela Bruno and Jennifer Ellis, who are part of the firm’s food safety team, were able to settle for the couple and the 28 guests who had food poisoning, but the legacy of their experience lives on.
Emma struggles with feelings of depression and chronic anxiety associated with her experience, while memories of her wedding turn sour as a result.
“What was supposed to be one of the best memories of our lives was itself catastrophically spoiled by severe food poisoning and experienced by about 30 of our wedding guests.”
“Stuart and I had been dreaming of our perfect wedding and honeymoon for years and we put a lot of time, money and emotional labor into making it come true.
“What could have been a magical time for us at the beginning of married life turned into a nightmare. I was too unwell to enjoy our honeymoon together and Stuart had to take care of me the whole time. I was on my way to my wedding.” Can’t even look back on the day. With good memories, as they have all been affected by the agonizing ordeal caused by food poisoning.”
Emma said what added to the tension was that friends and family were also suffering as a result of food poisoning, an experience she described as “unbearable.”
He also recalled the feeling that “that’s how people will remember our special day.”
“We struggled to get an acknowledgment from the wedding venue, and we felt isolated and in the dark,” he said. “The accumulation of all the stress has had a long-term effect on me and still affects me today.”
The Manor at Bickle has received over 300 reviews on TripAdvisor, with an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5.
newsweek Bickle has contacted Seatons and The Manor for comment.