Wedding Cancelled: Can I get Wedding Venue deposit back?

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): 

“…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.

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!