Coronavirus and weddings: what are my rights?
UPDATED 21st July 2021
As we move into ‘Step 4’ of the Government’s ‘Roadmap’ and restrictions on social distancing are removed, Thomas Sedley, dispute resolution specialist at Butcher & Barlow’s Bury Office sets out what these changes mean for upcoming weddings and how those who’s weddings have previously been cancelled may be able to recover their money.
As of 19th July 2021 there are no legal restrictions on the number of people that can attend a wedding, civil reception or any other celebration in England. Legal requirements for social distancing also no longer apply and you do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people not in your household.
Face coverings are also no longer required by law in any setting (however the Government recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded areas or on public transport).
COVID-secure rules such as table service and restrictions on singing and dancing no longer apply.
Cancelling your wedding
However, if you are still concerned about the impact that COVID-19 might have on your upcoming wedding, you should in the first instance contact the venue (and any suppliers you have direct agreements with) to try and negotiate an acceptable way forward, such as agreeing a new date later in the year, or next year.
However, if you are unable to postpone the wedding, or you cancel, you could be liable for any fees already paid, and any outstanding charges (subject to the amount of notice you provide). You need to check your venue/suppliers contracts very carefully to see what their cancellation policies are. There may also be a ‘cancellation fee’ to pay. Any such fee must be a reasonable fee to cover the venues/suppliers actual losses, for example, if you cancel the day before the wedding, the venue will have likely lost a lot more than if you cancelled with 12 months’ notice when they can resell the date.
However, by law, they cannot simply refuse to return a deposit as a blanket policy and you should request a complete breakdown of why the deposit cannot be returned.
What if my wedding was cancelled prior to 19th July 2021?
If your wedding was due to take place prior to 19th July 2021 and the venue (or supplier) cancelled due to COVID-19 (or any other reason) then you are entitled to a refund of the money that you have already paid towards what has been cancelled. If you have wedding insurance, you should also contact your insurance company to determine what exactly is covered in your policy.
What if my wedding was cancelled because we were in a national lockdown?
If your wedding could not go ahead because of a national lockdown (when wedding ceremonies were prohibited) then it is likely that your contract would have been frustrated and you should have received a refund and been no longer liable to make any further payments.
What if my wedding venue has gone bust?
If your wedding venue has gone into administration as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, your first port of call should be to your wedding insurance providers (if you have any) to check whether this is covered in your policy.
Alternatively, if you paid with a Credit Card (up to £30,000) then you should contact your credit card provider directly as they are equally liable for losses under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
You could also seek to claim a refund from the Administrators, however, this is likely to be very time consuming and unlikely to result in a full refund as the venue will likely have secured creditors etc. who are entitled to recover their losses first.
If you are experiencing problems with your wedding venue or suppliers and they are refusing to return your deposit then please do not hesitate to contact me and I would be happy to act on your behalf in contacting them to try to reach an amicable agreement. Please email me on email@example.com or call 0161 764 4062.
Butcher & Barlow have a team of Dispute Resolution specialists who are happy to assist whatever your circumstances. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or email your legal adviser directly.