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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 this is a vendor’s livelihood.  If you book a date with them most wedding vendors handle only a few clients per weekend, so with that said once you book they turn people away obviously 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.

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 Smoe 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 Smoe Weddings is unavailable all monies are non refundable and payment if required in full.   If Joe Smoe 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 Smoe 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 then they turn other clients away, if you cancel 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.

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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


  1. Margaret Moore

    It is sad when people do not live up to what they agree to on both sides.

  2. the insite given on cancelled contracts was very helpful. I have recently contracted a lot of weddings, I have yet to encounter a cancellation fee issue. I do have a policy, however, after the infomation I’ve just read I will be making some changes.
    Thanks for sharing
    Breathtakers Events

  3. Margaret Moore

    I am so sorry it has taken me so long to thank you for your comments. I would also encourage you to consider if you have to release a client have a release form for them to sign. We had the lawyer who did our contracts make one for us. People are crazy today and you have to protect yourself from the unthinkable. Thanks again.

  4. Anonymous

    My husband turned out to be a transgender cross dresser. Ya… opposition to the new idea of my man being into white diamonds by Liz Taylor made me sick. I still love him but I just couldn’t see it as reality. So Robert Ventura jr thanks for breaking my heart and to all you gals out there please pray for me and I hope this won’t happen to you on your big day or your plans for a future trimming with gold. He went nuts litteral. The bastard.
    Thanks for your time. Yours truly mrs Jamie Jenkins

  5. We’ve generally had great clients that we’ve worked with. However, as a venue owner, it’s frustrating when a (rare) client communicates one way or another their belief that the only income earned is from what takes place the actual day of the event. By the time someone books, we’ve usually spent hours up front advertising, communicating regarding some preliminary venue information, staffing for/setting up for their tour by prepping venue, including additional utilities if not normally kept heated/cooled during off hours, conducting the tour, tour follow-up if there are questions, or simply follow-up on our part, creating the contract, the invoice, & reviewing them with client, & related bookkeeping. Following a booking, there are often additional email or phone communications exchanged – even prior to the first planning meeting. Add in the planning/hiring of needed staff & continuing maintenance of building & grounds throughout the year so that it’s kept in top notch condition for all events – all of these involve staff hours & expenses. Venues take this activity & investment (part of their operating expenses) into account when setting their prices. We have to start the process all over again, often with multiple prospective clients & inquiries, to find a new client for that date. Having to re-do much of this, after having turned away other prospective clients, involves additional time, resources & expense. Several related places in the contract, we state, “Lessee understands their booking fee will not be refunded for any reason” & we advise in the contract (which they are responsible for reviewing prior to agreeing with), under the Event Insurance section, to obtain cancellation insurance due to the nature & expenses of the type of event they’re contracting for. It states, “While all parties hope it is never needed, we highly suggest considering cancellation insurance, as it is wonderful to have for protecting your deposits/payments with all your vendors in case an unexpected event (medical emergency, move out of town, loss of job, etc.) arises and you need to cancel with your vendors.” So it can be challenging to hear someone say, “but the event hasn’t happened yet!,” expecting to get their contractually agreed to Non-Refundable booking fee refunded.

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