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Wedding Canceled or Postponed? Here’s How to Get a Refund

If possible, Ms. Cuneo encourages couples to request that a vendor provide an alternative service — a post-pandemic family photo session, for example — instead of a return of their deposit.

Gaurav Anand, the owner of GA Catering in Manhattan, is allowing couples to receive a credit from their deposit if they decide to cancel their wedding this year that they can apply toward catering a different event such as an anniversary party. Couples “must understand the amount of time and effort it takes to pull off a catering job,” Mr. Anand said. “We have site visits, tastings, menu creations, staff assignments, special setups, etc., that require personalized attention and time, and we hold dates and prebook our staff for those dates.”

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David Berke, a lawyer and the founder of eWed Insurance, said most vendors are trying to accommodate customers who have been forced to cancel or postpone their weddings this year. But he acknowledged that some businesses are not fulfilling their contractual obligations.

For couples who fear that’s the case, Mr. Berke suggested a few strategies:

  • Write a review of the company online. Wedding businesses thrive — or fail — based on their reputation.

  • Dispute the charge with your credit card company. If you paid a deposit using a credit card, enlist your creditor to help recoup your money.

  • Hire a lawyer. This should be a last resort, but it’s necessary in some cases.

Teresa Crippen, 30, and James Ramirez, 37, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., had planned to wed at a conservation center in Philadelphia on May 29, but the coronavirus outbreak forced the venue to shut down temporarily. The center’s in-house caterer gave the couple the option to rebook, but it only offered them morning and midweek wedding dates before March 1, 2021 to choose from. The caterer turned down the couple’s request for a later date. “We offered to put down another $2,000 for May 29, 2021 and they said no,” said Mr. Ramirez, a product engineer for a home building company in San Luis Obispo.

The caterer offered to refund the couple $2,000 of their $12,000 deposit, but based on the language in their contract Ms. Crippen and Mr. Ramirez believed the were owed a full refund. “The stress of having our caterer holding our money hostage, coupled with everything that’s going on with the pandemic itself, has been a lot to cope with,” Mr. Ramirez said.

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