What Happens If Your Wedding Venue (or Vendor) Goes Out Of Business

COVID has changed everything. Weddings, gatherings, interactions.

And of course, also businesses.

The wedding and events industry like so many other industries has been essentially shut down.

We were one of the first industries to be put in lockdown and we’ll be one of the last to come back.

As a couple it’s easy to be completely consumed by how COVID affects you and your wedding plans and dreams. But, it’s really important to remember that COVID also affects all of your wedding vendors including your wedding venue.

While some types of weddings are still able to take place, things have definitely changed.

And without any income (perhaps for years), the sad reality is that not all wedding businesses will survive.

I’ve already heard of wedding venues going out of business in addition to caterers, rental companies, florists and more. And let’s not forget all the wedding venues and vendors who have not yet gone out of business, but will be faced with that decision in the not too distant future.

And I’m not just talking about newer companies. These are companies that have been around for years, decades even. Highly experienced and trusted companies.

Like so many things with COVID, it’s immensely sad.

So, why do I share this?

I think it’s really important as an engaged couple, that you understand that COVID is also affecting all the businesses who help to create your wedding day.

While we all hope to survive this pandemic storm, there is a chance your wedding venue or wedding vendor(s) will go out of business before your wedding day.

Because every situation is different. Your wedding venue might be an indoor venue which means they can’t do anything for a while. Or maybe your photographer is immunocompromised or lives with or takes care of someone who is. Or perhaps your wedding planner has lost their entire team and has decided that closing the business is the best route forward.

And while it’s still important to look out for your wedding (which we’ll get to in a moment), you also need to be understanding of the situation.

So, what does all this mean for you?

What happens if your wedding venue (or vendor) goes out of business

First, if your wedding venue or vendor has decided to close, you’ll be notified.

How in advance you’ll be notified I unfortunately can’t tell you.

You might end up in a situation where you’re told a month before your wedding. Or you might be told a year before your wedding.

With all the uncertainty for businesses right now, it’s hard to know.

But, when you’re notified, you’ll also be told what happens next.

And the biggest question is going to be around your deposit.

In the majority of cases, you’ll get your money back and they will explain how that will work.

And if they don’t mention anything about your deposit, make sure you ask. And find out when you should be receiving it.

The second biggest question is going to be about where to find a replacement.

Your venue or vendor may offer up some suggestions of places or people who can help you.

These may be places or people who have offered to help. Or just recommendations of venues and vendors they like.

If they don’t offer up some suggestions, it doesn’t hurt to ask for some.

So, before we move on to what comes next, let’s talk about the elephant in the room…

There are some rare situations where a business may close and not inform you.

While uncommon, this has happened in the past. And while I’d like to think it wouldn’t happen, especially during these COVID times, it might.

In many of these cases, you’ll likely not get your deposit back.

If you end up in this situation, try and contacting them using every possible outlet you can.

Try email, phone, social media or even snail mail. If none of those avenues elicits a response, do a little digging. See if you can find some personal contact info for the owner or the venue coordinator.

The goal is to get in touch with someone.

Because if you can get in touch with someone, then you can at least have a conversation. And a conversation is good because it can hopefully allow you to get you some money back at least.

But, either way, you might have to resort to either hiring a lawyer (which is expensive) or just letting it go.

And I know that’s not what you want to hear. And I’m not trying to scare you. But it is possible and I want you to be aware.

However, once again in most cases, if you’re using a reputable venue or vendor, they will handle it professionally.

Elegant chandeliers and string lights as wedding lighting for a Calistoga Ranch wedding by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

So, what happens next?

Now you need to find a replacement venue or vendor.

Specifically for venues, ideally you’re looking for one that’s free on your same date so that you don’t have to move anything else you may have planned.

But if you can’t find one (or find one you like), you may have to shift your date and in turn your other vendors.

Finding a replacement venue or vendor might be easy or hard just depending on where your wedding is and what you’re looking for.

The extra tricky bit with COVID is that given all the postponements, two years of weddings are now being compacted together.

So dates are in high demand and that may prove to be a challenge to find a replacement.

Be open to different venues or vendors or be flexible with your dates. One or the other may be necessary to come up with a solution that you’re happy with.

What You Can Do About It

Newlywed couple taking some time alone at their Hawaii resort wedding in the Big Island by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Emily Piraino)

So that’s what happens if your wedding venue or vendor goes out of business. But, here’s the question you may not have thought about…

Can you do anything to prevent it?

The answer is no, not really.

But, you can start planning for it now and taking steps to help. And in some cases (given COVID) be able to predict it.

Keep in mind that your prediction will still be a guess as no one knows the full situation of any business besides those running it.

But, if you take into account what we now know to be safer vs. riskier scenarios, you can use that information to help you.

For example, an indoor venue without any outdoor air circulation (like a concert venue or a museum), will likely be out of commission until there is a vaccine or treatment. And if they can’t make money, they may not survive.

But you have to think about each individual business as each situation is different.

So, in this example, an indoor venue like a ballroom in a hotel will survive, if the hotel can survive. On the flip side, if that hotel is in a major tourist area where the economy is centered around tourism, they might be in trouble.

In terms of your vendors, in general, those with more expenses will have a harder time staying afloat.

Vendors with offices or warehouse space, lots of employees and equipment just have more to cover. And thus need more income to cover it. Like caterers and rental companies.

In addition, riskier services will also face more challenges to staying afloat.

Like hair and makeup artists who work very up close and personal. And bands who have many people and involve singing (and associated dancing).

But once again you won’t know every company’s situation, so don’t assume.

Instead, pay attention to companies who are pivoting and finding ways to bring in some income during this time. While I obviously can’t say for sure, those are the ones who I think have a higher probability of surviving.

Romantic wedding tablescape for a fall French chateau fairtytale wedding in France by Destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events
(Photo credit: Julia Winkler)

So, given what we just talked about, here’s what you want to do…

First, for all your vendors, it’s a great time to review your contracts if you haven’t done so recently. If there isn’t clear language about what happens if they cancel (or go out of business), then ask the question.

Given everything going on now, it’s not an unfair question to ask.

And by asking you’ll also find out how they’re doing and what would happen.

Now, I wouldn’t move away from any vendors at this time (unless you’re no longer happy). But, I’d pay attention to their social media and what they’re doing (or not doing).

However, when it comes to your wedding venue, if you think you’re in a situation where they may go out of business, outside of doing the above, start brainstorming a backup or two.

This way you’re ready if you’re faced with the unfortunate situation.

And if you feel like your wedding venue is no longer a good fit because of COVID, see if you can cancel and rebook elsewhere. You may end up losing your deposit, but then you’ll likely be in a better place.

Now we’ve gone over a lot, but here are 2 last important notes to keep in mind:

If you want to help keep your wedding vendors in business, consider paying your invoice in full. Or find ways to support them now with their new pivot.

Treat them like you treat your favorite restaurant down the road.

Supporting them now, means they are more likely to be around to support you later on.

And if you’re thinking about getting cancellation insurance to help cover you in case a vendor does go out of business and you lose your deposit, you may not be able to.

While you can certainly try, just know that most insurance companies are not offering it at this time.

Having to deal with a wedding venue or vendor going out of business is not fun, but with COVID it’s a possibility. Keep this advice in mind and you’ll be better prepared.

And know that we’re always here to help, even if you just need a few consulting hours to talk things through. Contact us here to learn more.

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