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Understand Wedding Contract Cancellations

signing a contract

What if the unthinkable happens? Do you know what to do? Can you change the contracts you signed?

You have everything set and the unthinkable happens, you have to change your wedding date, or worse yet you have to cancel your wedding.  You had everything set and all the contracts signed and deposits paid.  NOW WHAT?  Never say Never!  Things in life happen, so the time to prepare for any possible changes is in the beginning.  KNOW what you are signing.  Always, always, and I will emphasize it again, ALWAYS read and understand the cancellation clause.

First, let me try to explain why there is such a clause in the contract in the first place.  The cancellation clause is there to protect the vendor.  You must understand that this is a person’s job, they pay their electric bill, mortgage… from the fees they take in.  I know that you probably know that already, but we forget that this is a vendor’s livelihood.  If you book a date with them, most wedding vendors handle only a few clients per weekend, so once you book a date, they obviously turn people away for that date.  OK, so no one goes into planning a wedding thinking something is going to happen, but let me tell you, it does.  We have seen it all, the good, bad and ugly stories of girls that come to us once they have signed contracts and then need to change them.  So, hind sight is 20/20.  I have had to re-negotiate and cancel my share of contracts, so here is a bit of advice I hope you will follow.

It is true with all contracts to read the contract before you sign it.  Yes everyone knows that, but yet not everyone does it.  Read and understand the cancellation policy completely.  Here is a sample of a cancellation clause:

Cancellation Policies.

Sample #1

In the event this agreement is canceled by you, you agree that we will have lost the opportunity to offer our services to others and will incur additional costs in attempting to book our services for the date reserved for your event.  You agree that the exact amount of our damage will be difficult to determine.  You agree that this liquidated damages clause in this agreement is a reasonable effort by you and us to agree in advance on the damages that we will suffer due to a cancellation.  Therefore, you agree that should you cancel your event for any reason,you will pay as liquidated damages to us immediately upon notice of cancellation the following percentage of the total amount of our services for your event as follows:
A.) Notice of cancellation received more than 180 days prior to event will result in a refund of 25% of your total deposit.
B.) Your deposit is 100% transferable to another date based on TOM VENDOR’S availability without penalty.
C.) Notice of cancellation less than 180 days prior to contracted date will result in a refund of 0% of the total deposit.
In providing notice of cancellation, you must provide a written notice along with a copy of your signed agreement.  The refund you are entitled to based upon the aforementioned cancellation policy will be mailed to you within thirty (30) business days.  We will not consider notice of cancellation valid and will not release you from the full amount due under the agreement until payment of the liquidated damages are received.

Sample #2

After a period of 14 days from the date of signing the contract, as compensation for loss of income for Joe Schmoe Weddings, the following charges apply as a percentage of the total fee due. (Number of days before the wedding) 90 days or less – 100%, 89-120 days – 75%, 119 on up- 50%.  Should the cancelled wedding turn out to be a postponement, then, subject to availability, all money paid may be applied to the new wedding based upon availability. If Joe Schmoe Weddings is unavailable, all monies are non-refundable and payment, if required, in full.  If Joe Schmoe Weddings is unable to rebook a wedding of equal or greater value for said wedding, client is responsible for 100% of monies due from the original contract.  In this case, the total fees chargeable shall be the fee which applies at that time.  In the event of Joe Schmoe Weddings taking another wedding booking for your cancelled or postponed date, a full refund of your monies paid minus the non-refundable retaining fee shall be made.  Cancellation requests must be made in writing.


Now can you see why you have to read the cancellation policy!  I will say, to defend the vendor, this protects them from losing dates.  If a vendor books you and they turn other clients away, if you cancel then they have lost opportunities to make money that day.  You wouldn’t tolerate that from your boss so you can understand why a vendor has to be protected.

So what can you do if the unthinkable happens?  COMMUNICATE!  These people are just that, people.  We once had a bride with a tragic story: the groom was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died six months before they could even be married.  TRAGIC!  Of course vendors understood. She did lose some deposits, but really everyone was so kind.  Well what if you just change your mind?  COMMUNICATE!  Again, they are people and you need to be honest about what is going on.  It is their livelihood so you may lose your deposits.  I will say, vendors are more apt to release you from the contract if you are honest and upfront about what is going on.  If you lie to them and get nasty, you will not only lose your deposit but you can be held responsible for the entire amount booked.

You can be proactive and ask a vendor to modify the cancellation policy, they just might, but be prepared to live with what you negotiate.  It is important that both parties are protected.

So read your contracts, understand the terms and if something happens, deal with it by communicating with your vendors and being honest.

So you’re getting married, keep it in perspective and enjoy the moment.

Simple Elegance Events and Wedding Designs serving Central Illinois. Want to use this article in your E-zine or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement: Event Planning entrepreneur Margaret Moore with Simple Elegance Events and Wedding Designs publishes information you can use at

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