What will happen to my wedding?

Dear Iona,

I am supposed to be getting married in late July. It's looking more and more unlikely that the wedding will take place. Our venue hasn't confirmed the cancellation, but has said it will contact us to let us know if the wedding is going ahead in the coming weeks. I have heard from friends that they are struggling to rearrange their weddings for comparable dates next year - mine is on a Saturday in high summer. I don't think we have wedding insurance. What are my rights? Can I get a new wedding insurance policy? We've been planning this for seven months.
Faye, 32
Virtual Assistant

Dear Faye,

I feel for you. It must be incredibly disappointing to have a day you’ve been planning for months suddenly thrown up in the air.
 
Technically, if your wedding venue has to cancel, you are entitled to a refund on what you have paid because they are in breach in contract. The same goes for any of your suppliers. They may tell you deposits are “non-refundable” but there is no legal basis for this.
There is no legal basis for “non-refundable” deposits
Even if you signed a contract which stipulates a cancellation fee, this may be deemed unfair under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Consumer Rights Act 2015. So speak to your venue and suppliers, making it clear you understand your rights in this situation. 
 
BUT…it’s worth remembering that many wedding venues and suppliers are themselves small businesses struggling to stay afloat. So unless you want to cancel the wedding altogether – and a few months spent in lock-down might prompt that decision among some (!) – most venues are allowing couples to rearrange the date free of charge, though some are only offering weekdays and/or out-of-season dates. 
 
This is partly because many weddings are already booked in for 2021, so the venues have to consider the existing rights of those couples too. You may understandably feel that a weekday or winter wedding isn’t a fair like-for-like substitution when you’ve been planning a weekend date in Spring or Summer.  
 
But you’ll have to weigh up whether you’re prepared to make this small trade-off in the circumstances to save yourself the aggro of battling your venue at this already stressful time.
You’ll have to weigh up whether you’re prepared to accept a different kind of wedding to save yourself the aggro of battling your venue
Ultimately, you can report the venue to the Competition Markets Authority as all firms are obliged to offer only cash refunds for goods or services they can’t provide at this time, and there is always the small claims court too.
 
But the only winners from a protracted legal battle would be the lawyers so it does seem the majority of couples have managed to come to an amicable arrangement with their wedding venues OR have been able to claim on existing wedding insurance policies.
 

Firstly, I would say ALWAYS have wedding insurance when you’re spending huge sums, possibly life savings, on a one-off date far in the future that could be cancelled due to all sorts of circumstances outside your control. If you don’t already have it, I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat, Faye. You’re not now going to be able to get a policy that will cover cancellations under coronavirus – understandably!

If it makes you feel any better, Faye, lots of people with wedding insurance policies have felt cheated out of a payout at this time. 

Some insurers have not covered themselves in glory with small print that excludes events like this, and I do feel really sorry for anyone who hasn’t got a comprehensive insurance policy with a fair-minded insurer. But that’s why it pays to compare all insurance policies carefully, including their small print, and wedding insurance is no different.

I do feel really sorry for anyone who hasn’t got a comprehensive insurance policy with a fair-minded insurer

I’m no wedding planner or romance guru, Faye. But given the uncertainties and complex trade-offs involved with rearranging a date as soon as possible in this current climate, I would either accept that the wedding will have to be modified or that it will happen much later than you expected.
 

I’m wishing you and your fiancé all the best Faye!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Many people are having something called virtual marriage. Have you considered that?

    1. Iona Bain

      Hi Jane! Yes lots of people are tying the knot virtually though of course the marriage isn’t actually legal unless it’s physically overseen by a registrar and all the paperwork is signed in person. So it could be that people could have an initial ‘symbolic’ ceremony online now and head to the registry office/church at a later date to make it official. There’s also a petition to make Zoom marriages legal, which makes sense given lots of care workers want to formalise their relationships and ensure their money/assets are passed on, should the worst happen.

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