We are quickly approaching wedding season again with Covid nowhere near ready to be over. This dilemma is causing couples to re-think their big day, with the option to reschedule their event to the following year. But, what type of legal ramifications are there in doing this?
Understanding your contract is always important, but this year it is absolutely crucial to know what the fine print is before signing the dotted line.
Non - Refundable Retainer Fees
A non-refundable retainer fee is a percentage of your package that is needed in order to book your venue, your photographer, your DJ or any other vendor for an event. Non-refundable means exactly what it says, these fees once paid, are not recuperable. This means that should you cancel your event for any reason, the vendor is allowed to keep the retainer.
"But what if I want to cancel because of Covid -19?"
Well, here is where it gets sticky. Each state operates under specific Covid-19 mandates and guidelines, which extend to the event industry. If, for example, your state allows events up to 50 people and you choose to cancel your event anyways, the photographer is still not held liable to return your retainer fee because -technically- you are still able to hold your event.
Covid-19 has changed the way in which vendors are handling rescheduling policies, and because each business is allowed to operate in the way that works best for them, there is no black and white explanation on how this works across the board. It is important that you ask
your vendors about their rescheduling policy. Review this addendum within the contract and ask a lot of questions! Are you able to move your retainer fee from the original date to the new date with no additional retainer fee down? Keep in mind that rescheduling during the wedding season is no easy task, and vendors are booking new brides a year (or more) out!
Holding your Event Anyways
Undoubtedly there are many couples who choose to hold their weddings anyways despite the global pandemic. It is important to remember that if you are asking vendors to work outside the framework of government mandates, those vendors are working without insurance and could be severely fined.
These are but a few tips to consider when booking your photographer (or any vendor!) during a pandemic. Understanding the legal jargon can really help make a stressful situation less so.