Coronavirus cancellations and postponements: what are your rights?

Although it may feel like it, we are not living in a scene from a futuristic sci-fi novel: weddings are banned for the next three weeks, perhaps even longer. What are your rights when it comes to halting or delaying your wedding?

Illustration of a red-haired bride holding a question mark

Have a wedding insurance policy that you got before COVID-19 kicked off? Great – but chances are it won’t cover governmental regulations, meaning that if you wanted to cancel your wedding outright owing to the current coronavirus situation, rather than push it back, you might be faced with substantial losses.

However, if your venue or supplier cancels, then you will be entitled to get your money back, regardless of whether you have an insurance policy or not.

That said, rearranging is the route that most couples want to follow. After spending so much time finding your ‘dream team’ of suppliers, why would you want to pull the plug entirely? Similarly, venues and vendors don’t want to lose out on bookings, so are bending over backwards to help those affected reschedule their date.

The cover offered by individual providers varies, but after the across-the-board restrictions are lifted, your policy could help you claim money back if significant suppliers can no longer provide their services, or don’t supply what was promised as per your contract, on any new date.

Similarly, if either partner falls ill (with coronavirus or otherwise), in turn causing the wedding to be cancelled or pushed back, you’ll probably be able to make a claim. Take note though: some providers do not cover contagious diseases or viruses. What’s more, cancellation because of self-isolation (rather than proven sickness) seems like a grey area, so contact your insurance provider to find out what their line on it is.

What if you don’t have any insurance cover? Aside from liaising with your venue and suppliers to come up with the best possible solution, there are other protections in place that could be helpful should all else fail.

If you paid by credit card, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act could assist you in claiming back funds if a vendor goes bust in the wake of the outbreak, a contract is breached or you reach stalemate in negotiations with them. Items and services priced over £100 but below £30,000 are covered.

Debit card payments aren’t as cut-and-dried: chargeback (reversal of a transaction) may be possible, but you’d need to investigate the likelihood with your bank or card provider.

Securing a new slot with your venue is only half the battle: what then for the resulting spiral of suppliers, from photographers to makeup artists, who may already be booked up on that date? If there’s no middle ground to be found in terms of calendar co-ordination, many of these sole traders and small businesses already pool resources so they can offer a network of trusted contacts of similar style/repute in the industry as back-up to their clients.

If your vendor isn’t available on your new date, it’s likely that your deposit will be forfeited, but in these exceptional circumstances, couples may find that suppliers are willing to transfer some monies paid, even if already-signed contracts suggest otherwise. Be patient and allow vendors time to work it out, bearing in mind that they’ll be inundated with such situations at the moment.

Whatever happens, remember that your betrothed will still be standing with you at the top of the aisle, even if it does just take a little longer to get there. Worth the wait? We think so.