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Whether you are a couple or supplier, the Prime Minister’s announcement on 22 February 2021 could be described as a breakthrough for the wedding industry. For the first time since 23 March 2020, we know that it is the Government’s intention to allow weddings to take place from 21 June 2021, without social restrictions. Technically speaking, this would suggest that there would be no cap on the number of guests who can attend. Whilst this seems almost too good to be true and an ambitious attempt to get the industry running again, it is important couples and suppliers are legally prepared for 2021 weddings.
We have been told that weddings for:
15 guests could be permitted from 12 April 2021.
30 guests could be permitted from 17 May 2021.
No restrictions could be permitted from 21 June 2021.
Here are three tips for couples to be legally prepared for the 2021 wedding.
- Establish what the Government’s roadmap means for your wedding
Weddings before 21 June 2021
If you are due to get married prior to 21 June 2021, your wedding is likely to be impacted by Government imposed restrictions. Therefore, you should consider whether you are prepared to have a smaller wedding to fit within the Government restrictions and if so, whether you can negotiate a refund or discounted rate with your suppliers to reflect the reduced numbers of guests. In the alternative, you may wish to postpone your event and in this situation you ought to have a clear agreement with your suppliers reflecting the terms of any postponement. If you simply feel that you would rather not proceed, you could potentially rely on the doctrine of frustration if you can demonstrate that the wedding will be radically different to what you anticipated at the time of entering the contract. If you can demonstrate that the contract has been frustrated, you could potentially seek a refund on the costs you have paid to your suppliers (minus any costs incurred).
Weddings after 21 June 2021
In the absence of any substantial social restrictions after 21 June 2021, weddings would take place as you would have expected them to. If wedding suppliers can deliver their services, couples are bound by the terms of their contract. Suppliers may also insist that the payment plans as set out in their contracts continue. In the spirit of cooperation and being cautious, you may consider speaking with your suppliers to vary the payment terms so you can pay a little later in the year until there is absolute certainty that weddings will be taking place without any restrictions. It is important to stress that suppliers may not necessarily agree to this and in the absence of agreement, it is important you stick to the contractual terms. If you fail to make a payment in accordance with the contract, you could find yourself in breach of contract.
2. Establish your wedding “roadmap” with each of your suppliers
We have heard what the Government’s roadmap is and now it is time for you to work with your suppliers to understand your roadmap for your 2021 wedding. Just as the Government are proceeding with a cautious approach, it is important that couples and suppliers also adopt a degree of caution.
You could consider completing the following steps:
- Contacting your supplier to check that they are still open and trading.
- Consider whether you and the supplier can still meet the terms of the contract.
- Be clear on your payment plans going forward.
- If you have previously entered a dispute with your suppliers, this is a golden opportunity to perhaps consider reconciling your differences and working towards resolution.
- In terms of wedding planning and preparation, you could assess with your suppliers what urgent action points need to happen now and what can be left until later in the year. You would want to try and keep any preparatory costs by your suppliers to a minimum until you know that weddings will be proceeding as you anticipated with certainty. Therefore, as far as practicable, you may ask your suppliers to hold off going to any expense in planning for your wedding until as close to your wedding date as possible.
3. Getting COVID-19 secure
It is quite likely that limited hygiene and vaccination related restrictions could apply to post 21 June 2021 wedding. Therefore, you may wish to ensure that your venues will be COVID-19 secure with the correct facilities (such as hand sanitisers/temperature checks) in place. It would also be a good idea to ensure that you will not have to pay anything extra for the provision of COVID-19 secure facilities being installed in venues. Finally, in case a proposal for a vaccine passport were to come into force, you may wish to encourage friends and family to take the vaccine to ensure there will not be any restrictions on their attendance.
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Lockdown 3.0 – What does this mean for couples due to get married in 2021- A quick fire Q and A
Another Lockdown means further uncertainty surrounding the status of weddings for the year. With many couples and suppliers having postponed weddings from 2020 to 2021, the Government’s national lockdown in response to the increase in COVID-19 infections, raises uncertainty for weddings in 2021.
- Can I get married during the lockdown?
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies can take place in lockdown 3.0 subject to strict limits on attendance and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances. The Government, whilst stating weddings can take place, has also stated that these should only take place in exceptional circumstances. For example, if one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover or undergoing life changing surgery.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to 6 people. Anyone working is not included (e.g., the total number of people will not include suppliers booked to provide services).
As most hospitality businesses are required to close, it is likely to be exceptionally difficult to get married during Lockdown 3.0.
- I am due to get married between January and March 2021 – can I obtain a refund from my wedding suppliers?
The first review date of the national lockdown rules will not be until at least Monday 15 February 2021. On 5 January 2021, Michael Gove (Cabinet Office Minister), stated that the current restrictions may not start to be eased until March 2021.
Therefore, if you are due to get married between January and 15 February 2021, it may be worth reviewing the “Force Majeure/Events outside of the control of the parties” clause in your supplier contracts to see whether they are drafted to deal the eventualities of a Government restriction preventing the contract to be performed.
Where there is no Force Majeure clause in the contract, it may be possible to argue that the contract has been frustrated and the obligations under the contract discharged on the basis that the restrictions in place significantly changes the nature of the wedding or reception beyond what could reasonably have been contemplated when you first entered into the contract with your supplier. If a couple can demonstrate that a supplier contract has been frustrated, it is possible to recover the monies paid under the contract subject to any reasonable expenses incurred by the supplier.
If you are due to get married between 15 February 2021 and March 2021, it is likely that the Wedding will still be subject to significant restrictions on the basis that the Government has indicated moving back to the tier system after the lockdown is over. It is highly unlikely there will be significant changes to the restrictions on weddings between mid-February to March 2021.
- My wedding is unlikely to go ahead as planned after March 2021, should I cancel my contract with my suppliers?
From a legal perspective, care should always be taken before any party opts to cancel a contract. More often than not, there are cancellation clauses contained within contracts which may require the payment of cancellation charges by the cancelling party. Therefore, before cancelling a contract you should carefully check whether you could be liable for any additional charges.
It may also be worth checking whether any cancellation clauses are fairly drafted, and you are advised to seek independent legal advice on this point.
- My wedding is unlikely to go ahead as planned after March 2021, can I obtain a full refund from my suppliers now?
It may be possible to obtain a refund where you can demonstrate that the performance of the contract is either impossible or radically different from that anticipated at the time of entering the contract with your supplier.
If a Government restriction prevents the wedding taking place, for example, because the hospitality venue must remain closed or because there are strict limits on the number of guests who can attend the wedding, you may succeed in demonstrating that the contract has been frustrated and a refund to be provided to you from your supplier (subject to reasonable deductions for costs incurred by your supplier).
At present, it is not clear what Government restrictions will be in place post-March 2021 and therefore, caution should be taken before assuming the contract has been frustrated and a refund should be provided. With a mass roll out of the vaccinations in place, it may be possible that the Government guidance on events and hospitality change after March 2021. Therefore, couples should consider waiting to see what Government restrictions are in place post March 2021, before asserting their right to refunds due to potentially frustrated contracts.
- My wedding is unlikely to go ahead as planned after March 2021, is there anything I should do now?
Many of my clients are asking whether there is anything they can do now in relation to their wedding which is unlikely to take place as planned later this year.
Couples may wish to have an open discussion with their suppliers to see whether they can agree a suitable postponement for the wedding day and delivery of the service under the contract or negotiate a suitable return of any sums paid under the contract. Suppliers are equally being severely impacted by the Government restrictions and therefore, an amicable and cooperative approach should be welcomed.
It is also worth obtaining transparency as to what costs your supplier has currently incurred and you may wish to ask your supplier to limit the expenditure of any further costs (e.g. hold off ordering any items for your wedding or pause on partaking in internal planning meetings) until there is some clarity as to whether your wedding will in fact go ahead. Where a contract has been frustrated, a supplier can deduct costs for time and expenses incurred towards your wedding.
We hope the above assists. Please do not hesitate to contact us via our Contact Page should you require any further guidance.
The Wedding Lawyer Team are delighted to launch the Dubai and Middle East Desk.
A dedicated service supporting the British Wedding Industry and Private Event Industry with their legal requirements in Dubai and the Middle East region. Whether you are a couple looking to get married in Dubai or the Middle East region or a Wedding Supplier looking to expand into the region, our team of local event specialists and lawyers will assist you through the process.
Pranav Bhanot, founder of The Wedding Lawyer stated “with more British suppliers and couples opting for a Middle East Wedding, we have put together a formidable team to assist with the legal, logistical and regulatory requirements to facilitate both couples and businesses who are targeting the Middle East.”
PlanWithToast.com is here for all your wedding planning needs! From just needing to find the perfect favours, to starting your hunt from scratch, Toast can help you every step of the way. Toast makes wedding planning and inspiration smarter. Using the latest technology, Toast matches Couples with Suppliers, based on location, budget, style and more, which is why it’s becoming the fastest growing wedding planning platform in the UK!
For Couples, Toast takes your inspiration further by turning real wedding photos into storefronts. Gone are the days of falling in love with an image, only to have no idea who, how or where to book it (we’re looking at you, Pinterest! 😉).
Plus, with budget trackers, handy checklists, real wedding inspiration and more, Toast really is your one-stop-shop for all your planning needs.
For Suppliers, Toast is a place to connect with your ideal Couples. Get matched with Couples who have the right budget, are in your area and who love your style. Moreover, Toast is here to help you boost and grow your Wedding Business as a whole. From expanding your network to developing your skillset, whatever your goals and dreams are, you can get there with the Toast Business Hub.
“We’re excited and proud to be partnering with The Wedding Lawyer. Together, we’re on a mission to make the legal side of weddings more accessible and easier to understand, both for Wedding Businesses and Couples, during COVID-19 and beyond. From Booking Contracts, to legal questions and disputes, watch this space for awesome content where we break it all down for you.” – Ellena Ophira, Toast Founder + CEO
“The Wedding Lawyer Team is excited to work with Toast. Ellena and her team are dynamic and are at the top of their game. We look forward to working together to ensure we are driving up the standards within the Wedding Industry and providing solutions to common issues within the industry.” – Pranav Bhanot, TheWeddingLawyer.co.uk– Founder
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Dominic Bright and Pranav Bhanot from Meaby & Co have co-written an article which analyses the three areas for debate highlighted by the the two concept notes (written by two former Presidents of the UK Supreme Court) and the webinar (hosted by The British Institute of International and Comparative Law) and offers considered conclusion for the idea that the law needs to deal constructively with the effects of COVID-19 on the resolution of international commercial contracts and avoid a flood of further disputes waiting recovery.
To read the article, please click the link below:
To learn more about Dominic Bright, please click here:
- Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Government has today announced that wedding receptions for up to 30 people will be allowed from next month which has been welcomed by the wedding industry. Currently, up to two families can attend a wedding reception if held indoors or up to six people from different households if outdoors.
- If a couple would like to cancel their wedding reception due to this 30 person limit, they would be able to do so if they can demonstrate that this significantly changes the nature of the reception beyond what could reasonably have been contemplated when they first entered the contract. For example, if couples were expecting to have 100 people attend a reception and only 30 can attend, it could be argued that the reception is significantly different to what the couple contemplated at the time of entering the agreement and the contract could be considered “frustrated” and so terminated.
- If a couple can demonstrate that a wedding reception contract has been frustrated, it is possible to recover the monies paid under the contract subject to any reasonable expenses incurred by the supplier.
- Couples should always carefully check the cancellation terms in their contract before cancelling their contracts.