Can Wedding Venue Keep Deposit?
Question (from Anonymous in CA):
How do we get our security deposit back from our wedding venue? It’s been 4 months of unresponsiveness and vagueness.: We rented a private estate for our wedding weekend with a $2000 security deposit and 2 million dollars liability insurance. Following the wedding, the venue sent us an email saying there were some reported damages with pictures and estimates to follow. After repeated emails, voicemails, and phone calls, we were finally able to get a hold of a person over 4 months later. We asked for those pictures and estimates right away so we can resolve it and she said since they never heard from us, they never put together the info but will fax it over right away. Now we’re back to not being able to get a hold of them again.
Response (from Attorney Rob):
Most of the Wedding Venue’s obligations will be set forth in the written contract that you signed. For example, the provisions will dictate what type of damage will allow the security deposit to be retained (i.e., common wear = no, breaking the famous gazebo out back = yes), how the damage is calculated, and the time frame for getting the difference back to you.
If an attendee did, in fact, cause damage, and the venue has the proof (pictures, estimates, and/or testimony as to the same), then they will probably be entitled to keep the deposit, and you possibly could be on the hook for more. I doubt it will matter that the venue has not been very communicative with you in that regard. While it might be considered a ‘breach’ that they did not provide you actual proof of the damage (even if the contract says they have to), I doubt that a Judge would make the venue give up the $2000 if there is $2000 in damages.
However, if there is no damage, and they have no proof of damage, i.e., they are jerkin’ your chain, then you have a breach of contract claim. Your damages would be $2000.
Rather than immediately go for the throat with a lawsuit, I suggest sending a certified letter, return receipt requested, outlining the chain of events, and demanding an accounting for the damages and a return of any unused portion of the deposit. If that doesn’t work, I would retain an attorney to do the same. Generally, an attorney letter does a pretty good job of greasing the squeaky wheel.
Moral of the Story: Avoid a lawsuit: Don’t hide the ball.