This year has seen many events and weddings getting delayed or cancelled. Weddings were banned during the first national lockdown on the 23rd of March, and figures show this affected 73,600 weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are banned once again in England until the 2nd of December at least. The restrictions are different for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where small ceremonies are allowed for now.
If you were one of the unlucky couples or if you are due to get married soon, here is some helpful information on your rights:
The Competition and Markets Authority published a statement and advice on wedding services being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, cancellations, and refunds. We have compiled the most important information.
If you had to cancel your wedding plans due to the national lockdown, you are entitled to a refund. Where lockdown laws prevented or prevent a wedding from happening on the agreed date, then the consumer should be offered a full refund.
While wedding venues and suppliers might be entitled to keep deposits or a certain amount relating to services they have already supplied, consumers are entitled to refunds even if they have paid ‘non-refundable’ fees.
The exceptions to full refunds:
- Services and products: Payments to cover services that were already provided which have an ongoing value that the customer will continue to benefit from even after the contract has ended, such as bespoke goods that they can reuse.
- Contribution costs: Costs incurred by the venue which have a direct connection with the contract in question, for example, wedding coordinator costs on the time spent on planning the wedding, or costs on buying items that cannot be reused.
The Competition and Markets Authority also advises that business may withhold a proportion of its costs which:
- have a sufficiently direct connection with the contract concerned
- were actually incurred before the wedding was prevented from going ahead
- have gone to waste because they did not produce any product or benefit to the business which it could use in other contracts
The Competition and Markets Authority also reveals some costs it believes businesses might not be allowed to deduct from refunds:
- costs which produce ongoing and re-usable benefits for the wedding business, such as general refurbishment
- fixed costs of doing business
- duplicate costs (such as costs the business could recover from another source)
- the costs of administering a refund
What if I want to postpone my wedding, can I still get a refund?
If your wedding can go ahead but with some differences from what was originally planned, for example, because fewer people are allowed to attend, you might decide to postpone. Business contracts usually contain cancellation fees in the case that the wedding is cancelled, which will affect the refund.
Although, according to the Competition and Markets Authority, if a consumer cancels their wedding contract when it could go ahead, they should not face any unreasonably high charges.
Terms and conditions in your wedding contract that state you won’t be given a refund in any circumstance, or that you must pay in full if you cancel, without taking into account any savings to the business for not having to provide the wedding or being able to use the date for another wedding, are likely to be unfair.
The Competition and Markets Authority investigates unfair pricing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please fill in this form if you think you have been treated unfairly: https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk/
What if I have wedding insurance?
If you got wedding insurance when you first started planning, you should check what it covers but the general consensus is that you check with the venue first to see if you can get a refund.
Unfortunately, wedding insurance does not cover government restrictions, so it’s unlikely to help if your wedding was cancelled or delayed due to the lockdown.
We are all in the same boat, couples, wedding suppliers and venues, so start by trying to work out a plan that will benefit and help both sides in these uncertain times. If that doesn’t work out, we are happy to help and give you the correct advice on what should be your next step.
We all know by now how quickly things change, so please make sure to keep up to date with government guidelines and revises.