Have We Lost Our Wedding Deposit?

We live in Sydney and are getting married in Melbourne. We put down a 50% deposit on a venue for the reception in September that ended up amounting to nearly $3k. The contract said no refunds upon cancellation but could move the date if things changed due to COVID. We felt it too risky to go forward with new lock-downs still going on so wanted to cancel.

However, the owner doesn't want to refund any of the amount as he says he held the date for us. Note, that he held the date for around three weeks to a month and the event is still two months away. He says that if someone else books the date then we can get the amount back but how likely is that now? We've tried to appeal to good nature but to no avail. Is there any way we can see that $3k deposit again?


    • +6

      no worries, its just money. that can be replaced.

      Do you realise where you are, sir?

      • lol, yes. i work remotely.

  • +1

    Thank god I didn't have a wedding.

    • +2

      Those not married [or no Wedding], must be saying the same thing. One less massive expense, only to please wifey. Most guys don't care either way.

      • +4

        That's true.

        My wife wanted to go back to work that day. We just rocked up to the registry, said our vows, shrugged and went home.

        • +1

          Good wife. If this is an indicator of how low-maintenance she is, you have an easy life ahead of you.

  • +1

    Come back OP! We miss you (not).

    (New accounts should really have a minimum time period and/or comment threshhold before they can make posts)

    • +1

      It is these posts that make headlines in ozbargain.

      • +1

        But they're not like us, mate.

        We've both posted deals and been around awhile. We've earned our shitposting rights.

  • +4

    $6k for a reception? That's a fantastic price.

    • I was thinking the same thing!!

    • I'm sure there is something omitted from that figure.

      Amount of people, inclusions etc

    • +2

      That was just for the venue (pretty small)
      Catering comes to around 15-20k for 100 people

      • +9

        I don’t even have 10 friends. How do people have 100 people at their wedding ?

        • I know someone who has a guest list of 300-400 people. Not even sure if I know that many names.

        • Families grow exponentially

    • +3

      It's at the Mcdonalds party room. But it does come with an ice cream cake.

      • +1

        The stale sponge cake at Pizza Hutt in the 90s was the best, as long as you were poor and didn't know any better.

  • +1

    were have you been the past 18 months

  • -2

    I'm not a legal pro, but it kinda seems weird that a contract would continue to be enforceable in circumstances where enjoyment of a benefit would be illegal. That is, the OP needs to commit a crime to receive the full services they paid for.

    However for $3k this is likely not something worth taking to court.

    • +4

      The venue will move the date for free

      • Fair enough.

    • +1

      That is, the OP needs to commit a crime to receive the full services they paid for.

      Lol big stretch.

      Op can reschedule for free. Op could also think about why they booked an interstate wedding during covid, or agreed to those terms in the first place

    • +1

      You're onto something here, "frustrated contracts". It does become a grey area.

      • Yeah, it was just a thought I had - no idea how it actually plays out.

    • Ignoring the fact that the date can be changed…

      My take is that if the OP can't get to the venue, then they should take the hit. It's not like OP didn't know the risks at the time they booked, this is not an unexpected outcome.

      • +2

        It of course is hard to plan for. My family is in Melbourne and the bride is from Sydney. Either way there's an interstate lockdown risk.

  • +1

    move it further away. get married on the original day in a close private event and have ceremony on rescheduled day. good luck!

  • Having been through something similar you will not get your deposit back.

    Be mindful that if you cancel something but the vendor can still provide the service they will not refund you. This extends to photographers, celebrants, bands - everyone.

    You're lucky they will let you postpone as many venues wont even allow you to do this.

    My advice moving forward would be to post on the FB wedding groups and offer your venue for a discount.

    FWIW friends of mine booked a melbourne wedding in 2019 for 2020 and Vic was in full lockdown for their date. They still lost thousands of dollars due to no refund clauses.

    • Our wedding day was a lockdown in Melbourne. We received a full refund from our venue and vendors because it was out of our control.

      If we had cancelled earlier then we would have lost our deposit.

      • Some venues are nicer than others I suppose

  • +3

    Ask Gladys and Dan, maybe they will split the bill.

  • +1

    It's a sign….. Don't get married :p

  • Pretty sure it's a binding contract and only way not to lose is to change the date or proceed if you can

    Also "changed due to covid" is pretty broad. e.g if Sydney is locked down but Melbourne is not. Would you still lose your deposit because you couldn't attend. So that needs to be cleared up

    Or forefit

    • We told the venue that we're not going do it in Melbourne anymore (lockdowns more likely there) so a change of date isn't helpful. That didn't work either though

      • sorry to hear that. definitely lost the deposit then. but you might be able to negotiate with the place say forfeit 50%. Doesn't hurt to try but still sucks.

  • Why are you asking randos on OzB when the contract straight up tells you?

    The venue even gives you an option to reschedule, so it's not like they're being difficult about it.

  • +2

    There are typically Force Majeure clauses in contracts which may be applicable if you are unable to travel to Melbourne due to circumstances out of your control. Again what others have said, rescheduling is likely a suitable compromise from both parties.

    To be honest, September dates should fill up down here in Melbourne so you're likely to get lucky with someone else picking up the date who has had to move it due to the recent lock down.

  • "L" users should not be allowed to post on forums.

    • +3

      Everyone has to start somewhere. Sorry for upsetting you

  • +7

    $3k to avoid getting married?
    Money well spent

  • -2

    My question is, why are you even considering an interstate wedding during a global pandemic?

    • Family is in two separate states. Have to pick a side

  • +1

    Just stream the venue into your zoom wedding. So it will feel like you were there.

  • +1


    Contract states non refundable deposit once cancelled. You should have reshceduled it.

    They are doing you a favour by offering you a refund if someone books on the same day of your scheduled wedding.

  • The contract said no refunds upon cancellation but could move the date if things changed due to COVID.

    So move the date, or no refund.

  • I thought due to covid there are all sorts of new rules and laws in place to protect consumers in case of covid outbreaks and lockdowns? Its funny how some businesses come to the party while others stay the same. Doesnt surprise me about wedding venues though, I went through Navarro and never again, they were atrocious to deal with and absolute money grabbers, all these extra hidden fees plus their prices are so high as it is but they have a monopoly in sydney.

    I have noticed its the same with some sports organisations. The ones that are for profit like oztag, everytime there is a lockdown its just free cash for them as they dont reimburse the players or even provide any discounts or incentives for the next comp.

  • Why dont just wait and let the lockdown play out. If we are still stuck in lockdown come September and weddings cannot be held, they obligated to refund you the money right?

  • Just offer to pay them a 3k cancellation fee in return for a refund of the deposit.

  • +2

    Reschedule to one year from now on a "good" date.
    Cancel the booking.
    Wait until someone books the better date and get your full refund.

  • +1

    The contract said no refunds upon cancellation

    What do you think?

  • +3
    • +1


      On https://www.accc.gov.au/business/covid-19-coronavirus-inform..., they say:

      In many circumstances, a term allowing a business to retain the full deposit or payment without having delivered any goods or services may be considered unfair under the unfair contract terms provisions of Australian Consumer Law, as it may not be reasonably necessary to retain the full amount to protect legitimate business interests. However, this is unlikely to be the case if you are covering costs you have incurred.

      • I think this is spot on. i.e if they have incurred cost, might be 10 hours of staff time, then a simple
        ' hey guys, we have used staff time to organise xyz, so approx $1500. we will refund $1500'
        I think that goes a long way for good will and not providing such a bad xp to ppl.
        Anyone reasonable including op would say, fair enough.

  • +1

    The venue's terms seem quite reasonable to me.

  • +2

    Move date or say goodbye to your deposit. You knew the risk when you signed.

    Source - I'm an events planner, seeking a new career. Do not plan events atm.

    Many lost deposits for clients, the second big c is no longer unpredictable, it's life and if they keep moving events they miss chances to make money from new bookings. And for many (it seems though wasn't the case when I was in college) it's their 9-5 real job so you're not going to see your money again.

  • If you paid by Credit Card I would just back charge the transaction as you haven't received anything for your money.

  • is there a minimum time in advance that you would need to give to cancel the wedding and get the deposit back? ie. if its 6 months, reschedule the date for 7 months down the track, call up a couple days later and cancel.

  • Everything happenes for a reason. Perhaps cancel the wedding and live happy ever after.

  • Isn't the business in same situation whether they cancel or move to different date. In both cases they won't have a booking for that date….

    So the place is fine with moving the date (thus no booking on the date), but wont cancel unless someone else books the date???

    • Whilst they won't have a booking for the closest date, they will still have a booking for a date in the future with money paid. So there's no loss to the business.
      The business can then book someone else for the closer date, and the business can get extra income.

      If the business cancels and refund money, then the booking date is free and the business is out of the money. It's a loss for the business.
      The business then has to try and book someone for that free date in the hopes of doing so, just to recoup the original money. So the business at best breaks even, or worse, loses income.

      So no, it is not the same.

  • I think you also need to consider the situation from the perspective of the business.

    They have their own expenses as well, and if you cancel and they are unable to fill that date (when they reasonably could have had someone else book that date in the past couple of months), then that 3-6k now comes out of their pocket.

    I think that they are being completely fair. People forget that businesses have their own expenses as well.

    • Businesses should also realize they need to be flexible during covid otherwise nobody will book anything, and that will be much worse than refunding some portion of their reservations.

      • "Otherwise nobody will book anything" - That's an assumption.

        If indeed no one is booking anything with them, then I'd certainly agree and suggest that they consider a more flexible policy in order to increase business.

        However, it's also possible that they still have enough demand for bookings (e.g., OP) to be able to operate with their existing policies firmly in place (also acting as a self-insurance for potential future business loss).

        In short - the necessity of a flexible policy is entirely dependent on their demand (at any given point in time) for bookings.

  • +3

    Change the date to a long weekend next year and request a refund if someone else wants that date? Surely someone will want to book an event on a long weekend.

    • Agree, pick a popular date into the future, spring/summer weekend.

  • Just move the date? You should really have made sure you were ok with potentially having to move the date and also potentially losing deposits with vendors who can't do the new date when you put the deposit down. I'm in the process of moving August wedding so I know its a painful situation to lose money but alot of vendors are already being incredibly flexible with their terms.

    I'd suggest trying to negotiate with the venue that if you can find someone else for the date they give you a refund of the deposit. I saw a bride on one of the facebook wedding forums do this earlier this year due to international border still being closed - her spot was snapped up pretty quick.

  • +1

    Lucky you only lost $3k…you nearly got married

  • I work in the events industry, and this is very normal. In pre covid times, you wouldn't even be able to reschedule, and some venues are still standing by the no cancellation, no reschedule rule.

    If I were you I would look at rescheduling the event, but also check if the owner has any rules against multiple reschedules due to covid (you never know what could happen). If you really don't want to reschedule, ask if you can use the deposit towards a different event or if it's a hotel, a stay in their hotel. this way they are still getting the revenue and you won't lose your money.

    It's annoying for sure, but remember that the events industry, particularly venues, are hurting as well throughout covid. they have to do what they need to do to ensure their business stays afloat. Events bring in a huge chunk of revenue so they are protecting their business as much as you are protecting your money.

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