Why are some wedding venues and suppliers charging to reschedule due to Covid-19?

This has been a question we’ve seen come up lots on different wedding groups and forums in the last few weeks. Why is my venue charging me for for rescheduling? Why won’t my suppliers honour their 2020 price to move to next year? Why will I loose my deposit?

We completely understand everything to do with this situation is unfair and must be so upsetting and frustrating for you to have to postpone and reschedule your special day and everything you’ve planned and have been looking forward to. But the problem is simply that most suppliers just can’t afford to have all of next years peak dates being rescheduled to for free as this will mean they can’t get new couples and events in and so no new income coming in next year either and most of us just can’t afford to do that.

Many venues and suppliers will be in a similar position to us where they’re getting little to no help from the government through this crisis (as the schemes have too many gaps, particularly if you have a small business limited company you’re effectively left out of both the employed and self employed help) and are unfortunately in the position where they literally don’t know how they will pay their rent or feed their families – which is exactly where we are and it’s terrifying…

While we fully sympathise that it’s not your fault that you’ve had to cancel, it’s not your suppliers either so neither party should have to take on the full brunt of the financial loss. The other thing to remember is that while you may be loosing money from your event, your suppliers are loosing from all events, many many, possibly even hundreds – we already have 63 cancelled events so far between mid-march and the end of August due to the Coronavirus.

Deposits:

We’ve seen people questioning why deposits or booking fees can’t be refunded if the work won’t be carried out. Part of the problem is that most deposits aren’t specifically money for the work that will be done on the actual day of the event, but often for all of the behind the scenes work done in advance and also for the day to day running of the business. There’s a reason why most deposits are non-refundable and that’s because they’re actually used to keep all the cogs going, paying for advertising, office space, equipment needed. Plus money for the time taken to work in answering enquiries and queries, liaising with you, drawing up your contract and any other contact you may have already had up to this point. Of course if it isn’t specified in your booking agreement that the deposit is non-refundable it is always worth an ask, but most of the time it’s clear it can’t be returned in any circumstances and simply this is usually because it’s already been spent on the business as that’s what it’s for. Also sometimes you’ve paid a “booking fee” instead of a deposit and this often signifies even more that this money is for the supplier’s work already done in booking this in with you and liaising with you until this point. Then some are charging another deposit to reschedule, or to reschedule to a more popular date.

Price increase:

One method particularly a lot of venues are using is to offer a date later in 2020 before the end of December for free, or some up until March 2021. But there would then be a price increase (usually around 10-15%) to choose a date after this in 2021. The thing is this is quite standard for all venues and some other suppliers to increase their prices each year already. Many venues will have a table of costs on their website for high/mid/low season for the current year and then same for the next year but all with an increase. As they’ll already be loosing out on the money from getting another couple in for the new date you choose, they’ve also lost out on any last minute bookings for over 6 months in 2020 as no one new will book for 2020 now until at least October/November, if at all…  This is a small way they can try and get some of that back. The unfortunate reality is that if a new couple booked for the date you choose next year, they would be paying the new price as well as a new deposit.

Charging for peak dates:

The method we have taken, and many other suppliers, to try to offer as many free dates as possible but still not loose out on too much potential new and much needed work in 2021 is to charge a new deposit just for peak dates, so we’re going with summer Saturday’s only. Others may include Friday’s or Sunday in summer with this too. But most will at least offer midweek dates for free.

What are we offering:

So as above we have chosen the charging for peak dates method to try to offer as many free dates as possible but still not loose out on too much potential new and much needed work in 2021. Please get in touch for any specific details about your event or postponement but in general we are offering for couples to move to any midweek, Friday/Sunday or off peak Saturday in 2020/2021completely for free. So a Saturday in November 2020/2021, or February / March / April 2021 or any other day of the week through the year won’t cost anything and we have lots and lots of availability for these dates. But for a Saturday in the months December/January, May through to October we ask for your deposit to be paid again, as explained to pay for our losses for not being able to get new couples booking on those days.

Travel companies:

It’s quite similar to travel companies or airlines, most people tend to just expect it more. If you move your cancelled flight there’s a high chance you may have to pay more if the flight on the new date costs more money. Or you pick a different flight date or time which is cheaper. But people tend to understand more or accept that’s the case when rebooking flights but not with other types of business or suppliers. We understand that may be because Weddings are that bit more of a personal thing, but that doesn’t change peoples financial situation.

For an example, we had a couple booked in for April this year with a discount as it’s has been a very quiet month the last two years, they would like to move to a June Saturday and we just can’t accommodate this for free. If it was for a flight say, moving from a less expensive date to a more expensive date, we wouldn’t be expected to but in this scenario we are.

Negotiate:

All this said, there isn’t any harm in politely negotiating a little! Particularly if you have a supplier you have booked something more than their standard package with, they’ll be more likely to be flexible and want to keep your booking in the diary. If you’ve booked a few extras and add-ons with someone your overall price will be higher so it could be more worthwhile for them to lower the reschedule charges. You could ask if they would take a small amount off or half the extra costs and this would be fair.

Also think of other ways you have to compromise, if you’re ready to move to the next date straight away you could ask for a reduction in charges but that you’ll sign the new contract for the date straight away that date and get it confirmed nice and quickly as this is always helpful and could help with negotiating.

Or, offer a reduction in total cost but to pay some more upfront now to help with their cashflow. This wont always be an option for all suppliers – like us because of the way our accounting is set-up this doesn’t help us too much but it may really help some of your other suppliers.

We just hope this information will help to explain some of the reasons behind suppliers being less flexible than some had hoped and we really hope you can understand our plight. We love our clients and our wedding couples, we’re not making big bucks here and we do this because we love performing for such special events!

Best Wishes

Licence to Ceilidh