Wedding Venue Deposit Not Refunded

posted 3 months ago in Legal
Post # 2
Member
2172 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

You can usually get a free consultation with an attorney, so it’s worth finding one that does contracts and asking these questions. Call your local state bar association or visit their website to find someone who practices in contracts.  However, as unfair as it seems, you agreed to the contract. Unfortunately, there really isn’t such a thing as sympathy when it comes to a legal agreement. Nor would a court take into consideration that the venue received covid relief $$.  They might be getting your deposit plus the money from the people who re-booked but that party is significantly less than your 100+ person event compared to the 40 person event you are having. This is exactly the situation that the contract contemplates. You might be able to make an argument that it is impossible to rebook a party of equal or greater value if there are state restrictions in place but given the event is not scheduled until May, that is difficult as restrictions are likely to change before then. I won’t say its not worth your time to pursue. A lot of times hiring an attorney just to write a letter on your behalf can be enough to get the other party to come to a compromise. But, I would go into it with low expectations. 

Post # 3
Member
1648 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2020

I’d look into the max for small claims court in your state. Might be easier and cheaper to represent yourself in small claims than go full on lawsuit.

If you show them you’re serious enough, they’ll probably pay up just to avoid the hassle.

Is this an all inclusive venue? Would they have made more money per guest?

Post # 4
Member
447 posts
Helper bee

I agree with pp. Definitely worth it to look into a lawyer, even if just for a free/low cost consultation. I also think your case will hinge on your states covid restrictions. If, for example, your state has limited weddings to 50 people, you would not be able to host a 200 person wedding anyways there may be some wiggle room. Did they change or create any new policies due to covid? I remember hearing about one place that wouldn’t let you cancel/rebook for no cost from covid until 8 weeks prior, as they were waiting for govt restrictions to guide what they were doing. I wonder if your venue has some sort of covid policy in place that you may be able to look at. Again agreeing with what pp said, there is no sympathy in contracts or business. 

Post # 5
Member
730 posts
Busy bee

View original reply
@dk1129:  I unfortunately think you’re SOL because you decided to forego the venue all together. It would be one thing if you rebooked for a later date, but as far as I know most contracts (covid or not) basically offer you nothing it you walk away completely.It says you will get 75% of your deposit back if they are able to rebook for the same amount in the event of a cancellation? Or does it say in the event of a postponement? I would be very surprised if a venue is putting themselves at that much risk.

My venue had similar language that talked about a postponement, we get to apply our deposit to a new date if they were able to rebook our prior date, but we forego the deposit completely if we cancel.

It also had language that said something like if an unforeseen circumstance happened (covid) that made them not live up to their end of the contract (guest minimum) they would work with us to postpone to a new date at no additional cost or no deposit lost. But we actually had to postpone. If we walked away they get to keep it all. 

Post # 6
Member
4509 posts
Honey bee

Not an attorney, but have a lot of experience with this from the venue side. You’re SOL as you cancelled, and I would not throw good money after bad.

Are you in the States? If so and IF they got a covid loan, that money probably lasted three months of payroll, if that.

Eta: also, depending on your contract and state law, you may end up having to pay their legal fees if you sue.

Post # 9
Member
609 posts
Busy bee

It’s always worth consulting with a lawyer to have them read your full contract and apply the law of your specific jurisdiction. As a lawyer, I would urge you to not take the advice of posters here who are willing to give opinions without seeing the whole contract and knowing where the contract was entered into.

Assuming it’s a pretty short contract you should be able to get someone to review it and give you some basic advice for a few hundred dollars and you can then determine whether to pursue in small claims court. 

Post # 11
Member
4509 posts
Honey bee

View original reply
@dk1129:  what I meant was don’t spend more money when the chance is slim to none that you will recover anything. You cancelled and forfeited your deposit. If you hadn’t, then that would be a different story.

Post # 12
Member
7530 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

I agree that it’s just time to have a lawyer review the contract. It’s literally impossible to give any sort of advice without anyone being able to physically read the contract and the cancellation/postponement clauses themselves. 

At the start of Covid vendors were a lot more lenient. At this point, most are really sitcking to their contracts because the thought is you CAN have a wedding it just has to be smaller. Had you postponed and picked a new date for the celebration it would likely be a non-issue but when flat out cancelling you unfortunately lose out. Really it’s going to boil down to the verbage of the contract. Does it specifically say rebooking “of equal or greater value” or does it just say rebooking? You can use the argument that a 200 person wedding won’t happen, and while yes it’s not responsible, there are many venues who have chosen to allow larger events. At the end of the day no one is stopping them, shutting them down, etc….at least not in my area. 

Post # 13
Member
199 posts
Blushing bee

I would forget it for 3700..you wont ever see that money from the venue even if you win in small claims.. they are likely bordering bankruptcy at this point because of covid..

 

Post # 14
Member
730 posts
Busy bee

View original reply
@starfish0116:  This depends where you are. In NJ venues are capped at 25% of capacity by executive order. You legally CANNOT have a wedding larger than that. My contract had verbiage that stated if I chose to postpone they would apply my deposit only if they could rebook my date with a wedding of greater or equal value, but if an unforseen circumstance required THEM to not be able to live up to the contract, they would postpone us for no additional cost. My contract had a guaranteed guest minimum listed on it that they could not fulfill, so we postponed for no additional fee.

But if we were to cancel that’s a different story. They owe us nothing. The contract technically said we would owe the full amount if we canceled. Who knows if they would actually go after us for that, but they might given the circumstances.

OP – The reality is these venues go one of two ways; they either were sitting pretty on a lot of money and are able to pay absurd lawyer fees to recover as much as they lostand you would go bankrupt just trying to fight them OR they are hanging on by a thread and would not likely be able to pay you back your $3,700 anyway becuase they’ve lost a lot more than you.  I am not a laywer but I personally don’t think it’s worth getting into a legal battle with an event venue, espeically over $3,700 dollars.

 

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