Coronavirus and weddings: what are my rights?

A wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of a couple’s life. However, the coronavirus has turned many peoples dream days into their worst nightmare.

Anthony Higham, dispute resolution specialist at the Butcher & Barlow Bury office,  sets out your rights and provides some tips to ensure that you are at least able to recover your money if your dream day cannot go ahead.

Cancelling your wedding

If you are 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.

However, if the venue (or supplier) cancels, 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 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 ahigham@butcher-barlow.co.uk or call 0161 764 4062.

an image of Anthony Higham, a Butcher & Barlow LLP employee

Anthony Higham

Butcher & Barlow have a team of Dispute Resolution specialists who are happy to assist whatever your circumstances. Although in accordance with Government guidelines, our offices remain closed, the Dispute Resolution team remain available for advice and guidance on any existing or new matter. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via enquiries@butcher-barlow.co.uk or email your legal adviser directly.

To view Butcher & Barlow’s own working practices, please visit www.butcher-barlow.co.uk/news.