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Wedding Cancelled: Can I Get Wedding Venue Deposit Back?

Case Study (Courtesy of AVVO)

Question (from anonymous in Georgia):

“I have a contract for a wedding venue date for December I need to postpone to a later date, can I get my deposit back. If there is no mention of postponing to a new date in the contract only a cancellation policy?”

Response (from Attorney Rob Schenk): 

“…The wording of the contract will govern whether you will be entitled to get your deposit back. I also agree that , in my experience, wedding venues would rather work with you (if possible) than either losing the event or seeking legal proceedings against you.

“No one told us they cancelled.”

Generally (and remember that I have not seen the contract), if you need to ‘postpone’ the event, and the contract is silent on this, then the venue is not under obligation to provide a new date. You both have agreed to mutually binding obligations (you provide the $, they provide the facility on date certain). When you assert that you do not intend to utilize the venue on that date and therefore do not intend on paying the balance, then you essentially have breached the contract. In this event, you will be liable to the venue for ‘expectation damages,, i.e., the amount of money that the venue would have earned had you fulfilled your end of the bargain (contract price – expenses = profit).

However, you mentioned that the contract talks about cancellation. Your breach (as explained) would more than likely be considered a ‘cancellation’. I bet the contract says that the deposit is kept when the event is cancelled. If it does, the law will probably consider this liquidated damages. This means that the deposit will be all the $ that the venue will be entitled to (even if the expectation damages as described above are more than the deposit).

I would try to reach out to the venue and negotiate for the new date as soon as you can.

Good luck!”

Moral of the Story: Always, always, always make sure your contract explicitly states what happens to the deposit!

Supreme Court Rulings to Impact the Wedding Industry…..In the Pocket Book

From Martha White at the Daily Beast:

“Even as proponents of same-sex marriage cheered the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, professionals who work in the wedding industry also rejoiced. 

“Weddings are the most important celebration most people do in their lives, so it will definitely impact business,” said event planner David Monn, owner of David Monn LLC. “The moment it changed in New York state, we were inundated with calls.”

Legalization in some states over the past few years was a watershed moment for same-sex marriages. And the Supreme Court’s decision to declare DOMA unconstitutional also is expected to spur an increase in weddings, especially from couples who were reluctant, some for financial reasons, to tie the knot before.

In a separate decision, the Supreme Court also effectively permitted legal gay marriage in California, although it may take some time before California joins 12 other states and the District of Columbia in permitting same-sex unions.

Bernadette Coveney Smith, owner of LGBT wedding-planning company 14 Stories, said her business doubled after same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration said that the city issued more than 8,200 marriage licenses to gay couples in the first year after New York legalized same-sex marriage—about 10 percent of all licenses issued. The mayor’s office estimated that related spending, including visits by out-of-state couples seeking to get married, totaled $259 million in that time period.”

We here at Wedding Industry Law couldn’t be more ecstatic about the movement towards complete marriage equality that legislatures and courts have made across the country in recent years. The U.S. Supreme Court rulings last week left a lot of unanswered questions, but one thing is for certain, the industry is going to see in upswing in revenue, and that is a good thing.