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Natalie
Just Said Yes June 2020

Legality of Venue Cancelling Contract Because of a "bad Planner"

Natalie, on February 20, 2020 at 11:03 AM Posted in Planning 0 12

Our wedding venue unfortunately went back on their contract with us four weeks ago. It was devastating because it had been at a favorite restaurant of ours - somewhere we went on a monthly basis and told everyone we knew that they had to go. Thankfully, we did manage to secure a new venue (even though we're only four months away!), but there has been some discussion among my friends and family about whether or not this is legal, so I wanted to get some opinions.

We started planning with them in November 2018 (because I like to plan ahead), but didn't secure a contract until October 2019. It was slow going because they'd lost their event planner, and had temporarily put their restaurant manager in the role. The contract was signed and deposit paid, and then in January 2020 I get an email from the restaurant owner that the manager/event planner was fired because he had promised us and others things they couldn't deliver on. They offered to give us our deposit back or to renegotiate the contract. In the renegotiation meeting, the changes proposed were mostly reasonable, until they got to the food - where they proceeded to offer us two basic appetizers (three of each per person, think pigs in a blanket) and a mac and cheese station for $107pp.

Needless to say, we asked for our deposit back. And no vendors had been booked that were specific to that venue, so no money was lost, just a lot of time and patience. I'd like to hear your input - Is this allowed by a venue contract?

12 Comments

Latest activity by Natalie, on February 21, 2020 at 10:58 AM
  • R
    Expert May 2021
    Rachael ·
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    They gave you your money back I'm not sure what else you're looking for. I'm sure maybe it's not 100% legal but they at the end of day you didn't lose any money. You could fight and argue to stand by the original contract but there comes a point it's not worth it and just move on elsewhere.
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  • Meghan
    Super September 2019
    Meghan ·
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    That's tricky. I mean, it really depends on what specifically your contract said and if there was anything in it about price changes or extra charges or anything.

    They did give you the option of staying with them or getting your deposit back though, so even if it wasn't totally legal they at least made good on it and gave you your money back.

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  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah ·
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    Did the contract mention canceling? Our venue was allowed to cancel and return our deposit if they were no longer able to provide services (they didn’t need a specific reason) and that was included in our contract.
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  • M
    Legend June 2019
    Melle ·
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    I think it’s a bad situation where it was a lot of inconvenience for you but I do feel like they rectified the situation pretty well though by offering renegotiation or a full refund
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  • Natalie
    Just Said Yes June 2020
    Natalie ·
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    That has been my thinking as well. The contract had no language about whether they could or could not cancel - likely because the person who put it together was not experienced in writing these contracts. I was upset that they did this, of course, but I didn't plan or think there was cause for legal action. I have been told by so many people that this is illegal and I should go after them - but it seems my impression was right that as long as we didn't lose money, it is not illegal.

    While it was really difficult to find a new venue on the same date just 5 months before the wedding, it was better than 1 month. I can only imagine how awful it would be to have this cancelled much closer to the wedding - and the fact that it still would have been legal for them to do so right before the wedding is a bit disturbing. It's certainly something I wish I'd known happened to people when I was in the planning process.

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  • Crystal
    Just Said Yes February 2022
    Crystal ·
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    Most contracts have a “in an act of god” cancellation policy, but I wouldn’t classify this as one of those. I think you could probably pursue a lawsuit, but it would take even more time and patience. What’s more is that you will probably never get to enjoy eating at that restaurant again either because it’s awkward to go while or after suing them, they ban you, or they shut down.


    Maybe you can leave them a bad review somewhere and see if they offer you any further compensation?
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  • Mcskipper
    Master July 2018
    Mcskipper ·
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    Even if it was “illegal” , theres no recourse. You got your deposit back — that’s all a court would do anyway if you “went after them” ....plus from a legal standpoint, they didn’t cancel— you did. They tried to renegotiate. I’m really sorry that this venue fell through, but , aside from taking time to be disappointed, I’d move on and not give it another thought. Super glad you were able to find a new venue, I’m sure it will work out even better than the original! Honestly— my brother had to have a last minute venue change and while there’s definitely some disappointment, I really think the day turned out better. I feel like the whole staff was aware of that disappointment and went out of their way to make everyone happy and ensure a wonderful experience. (Alternatively , even if a court *could* force the venue to uphold the contract, would you really want to face that attitude on your wedding day? The staff would be people that were just taken to court and lost and now have to render services for you at a financial loss ....I’m not so sure you’d be met with the smiling faces you want on your wedding day!)


    Sorry for the disappointment , but I really feel that the returned deposit *is* the Best Case Scenario
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  • Dajia
    Savvy August 2021
    Dajia ·
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    It’s illegal because it is a breach of contract, however, you got back all your money. Had you not been refunded all that you paid, you could pursue with intent to get back every penny you put in (that's it nothing else).

    I understand the inconvenience, but I’m not sure what else you could possibly want out of going after them. They offered a new contract and you didn't like the food options so you gave up your space willingly, at that point the issue becomes yours and they are safe. Obviously this business knows business law and was able to clean up their mess. I apologize that you had to look for another venue with time approaching your date, but you’re not going to get any money out of this if that’s what you want.

    Best
    of Wishes to You!!

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  • Suzie
    Super October 2021
    Suzie ·
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    I feel like this is a gray area. Since they did offer to renegotiate, but you opted not to, it may not be a legal issue. Even if it was illegal, you would need something to sue for, and since you got all of your money back, there really isn’t much else. Emotional distress, perhaps, but that’s hard to argue. And do you really want to hassle of legal fees and the time and energy it will take? What are you really hoping for? Granted, I am not a lawyer, but the venue could come back with “we offered her alternatives, and she declined.” Unethical? Most def. But may not necessarily be illegal. Sorry this happened to you. Hopefully this works out for the best!

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  • Hope
    Dedicated August 2020
    Hope ·
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    Very gray area. They can cancel the contract if they cannot fulfill the venue space (renovations, acts of god, fire, etc.). There should be specific wording in the contract that says something along the lines of, "we have the right to change this contract... we have the right to change prices due to market... "

    They are well within their rights because they refunded you.

    Sure, it's annoying. You could have agreed to the new terms, but you chose not to, so there's really nothing you can do but move on. You are not entitled to compensation because of it, though. Sorry it happened, but think of it as fate.

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  • Maria
    Super October 2019
    Maria ·
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    The only thing I think is questionable is the renegotiation. I feel like since you had a signed contract that should be honored and they shouldn't say "oh by the way we can't do that anymore so either take this option or go." I get that if one of their previous employees was making ridiculous promises on their behalf they wouldn't want to follow through on those but that's just part of running a business. They shouldn't have put someone in that role (even temporarily) that couldn't be trusted.

    Since you got your money back I would just move on and focus on your day!

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  • Natalie
    Just Said Yes June 2020
    Natalie ·
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    Thanks for the weigh-in, all! I'm definitely not looking to sue or to force them to hold my wedding - neither of those situations would work out well even if I did want them. Was just looking for confirmation to tell my friends that there is no recourse to pursue here (other than maybe a bad review). Smiley smile

    If you're interested, this is the menu "offer" they came back with. $107pp in addition to an extra 50% in fees would have gotten us a total of 300 mini appetizers and a mac and cheese station - not nearly enough to feed 50 people a meal. I did the math and that came to $15 per individual pig in a blanket (and they're not gourmet or anything). In comparison, other places in the area came to $1 each for pigs in a blanket. Kind of felt like we were being forced out - no one would pay a 1500% markup. But again, I'm not looking to pursue any action against them.


    Legality of Venue Cancelling Contract Because of a "bad Planner" 1

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