Couples who have to cancel or postpone their weddings due to the coronavirus pandemic do not have to be left out of pocket.
Commercial litigation lawyer Jessica McSorley has moved to reassure couples who were planning a wedding in 2021 and are unsure whether to set the date while most of England remains in tiers two and three of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Under current rules, weddings are limited to just 15 guests, meaning many couples want to postpone their big day until they can invite more of their friends and family – but many fear they will be left out of pocket.
However, Miss McSorley, of Shropshire law firm mfg Solicitors, said couples may be entitled to most or even all of their money back if the government’s restrictions mean their booked wedding cannot go ahead.
She said: “The law around this area is covered by the doctrine of frustration, which is apt given how many couples will be feeling about their big day.
‘What it means is that if something occurs which makes it impossible to fulfil the contract due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control, the contract comes to an end.
“Of course, the venue is entitled to any costs it may have incurred upfront which means the couple will lose that part of their money. But if no costs have been incurred then the couple may be entitled to a full refund.”
Miss McSorley added that wedding venues cannot hold on to money paid on the basis that it is labelled as a “non-refundable deposit” and would have to provide a genuine estimate of what they have lost in starting to plan the wedding.
“The main thing to remember is this is about what’s fair,” Miss McSorley said.
“Neither an engaged couple nor their wedding venue is at fault because of Covid-19 or government rules and the courts will recognise that.
“Overall, couples should enter into discussions with their wedding venue at an early stage to see whether a new arrangement can be agreed as this may be beneficial to both parties. I have found that too many people are simply accepting what their venue is saying, but having proper conversations may result in a far less stressful situation for all.”