Weddings and events have been subject to cancellations and postponements from every direction over the last 300 days. It is safe to say that clients and suppliers are both facing unparalleled times.
For private clients who have saved for so long to put on the party of their dreams, not only is the disappointment of having to relinquish hours of planning a huge shame, but for many it also represents £££ potentially down the drain. Many suppliers that I have been speaking to have been working as hard as they can to facilitate postponements of services, but where that hasn’t been possible many have been facing the devastating C word – cancellation. A cancellation for one small company can have a massive impact on solvency. But what about the individuals at the other end of the deal? It’s not fair is it – it’s not the client’s fault that due to COVID-19 their event has been cancelled. But did they have event insurance? As an experienced event planner I would ALWAYS recommend the insurance to cover cancellation (and usually equipment) and this really needs to be done as early in the process as possible, as long as you know the rough breakdown of the budget. It’s all well and good saying that NOW of course, when getting cancellation insurance will be more challenging than before. But what about those clients that did not take out insurance? It’s worth noting guys and girls that in the main your consumer rights ARE protected, but within reason. Always check your terms and conditions to see what you are committing yourself to before you sign a supplier contract. If you are already contracted up to your eyeballs, due your due diligence now and get your glasses on. Read up and then read on:
Firstly remember that most suppliers want to help! Pick up the phone and see how flexible they will be before reaching any decision. A conversation early on can really help to deliver a suitable resolution for both sides. This is not ‘normal’ times and we are all working out the best way forward.
Most suppliers at this time will happily look to move your date to another period within the same year, as long as you can find a mutually agreeable date. This is classed as postponement.
If you are not able to agree to a date that suits both, then you would be looking at a cancellation. In this situation, where it is the fault of neither side and because of government guidelines, you should be able to claim back your booking deposit LESS any costs incurred to the supplier. Note that costs incurred don’t necessarily mean things they have paid for. If they charge on management time (for example as most wedding planners or independent consultants would do) you may have to accept that as they have spent time working on your event, they are entitled to keep some of that deposit back. However you are within your rights to ask for proof of how much time and money has been spent working on your behalf.
If you decide to cancel when your event is on a date that is still feasible, and there is no reason for it other than you have changed your mind, strictly speaking you would be subject to the cancellation terms of your supplier. Each one is different. Most event industry suppliers require a deposit at time of booking to secure the date, with a payment and cancellation plan clearly laid out. Deposits are usually non-refundable, however if the supplier is able to re-sell that date then you could look at negotiating a full refund subject to the costs incurred as above.
If your supplier cancels your event then you are entitled to a full refund. No ifs, no buts.
The thing to note is that, as a consumer, you DO have rights. However businesses also have rights to be paid for work done in good faith, especially where a binding agreement has been put in place. In conclusion: Hands up – I am NOT a legal expert, but I have worked in this field for long enough to know that this is an area of the industry that often gets ignored. Many event planners breeze through the contracting process without doing their due diligence and this is where they can leave themselves and their clients unstuck. Another reason for clients to research their event planner fully before getting on board. Anyone can put a nice looking tablescape together, but not everyone understands the legalities of how to deal with other people’s hard earned money! Do you research gang. Sending love to any private client dealing with disappointment right now xx