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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.”
Our appeal dedicated to Nainika Tikoo
This blog article is dedicated to Nainika Tikoo who sadly passed away on 25 May 2017 as a result of anaphylaxis owing to an allergic reaction to blackberries. We have noticed a number of wedding and event caterers who regularly fail to comply with their legal food labelling obligations. We hope the below provides some guidance. If you are an events caterer, wedding planner or couple, we are offering free food labelling consultations and best practice advice to ensure your next event is compliant with the relevant legislation. All we ask is that a donation is made to the allergy awareness campaign set up by Nainika’s parents (Lakshmi Kaul and Vinod Tikoo) (www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/nainika)
Facing the facts
It is shocking to see how many caterers at weddings and events, fail in their legal duty in providing information about allergenic ingredients in the food that they serve to guests. This has the potential to cause serious harm. We have put together some tips to assist caterers with their obligations.
In the UK, it is estimated that 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children have a food allergy. This equates to around 2 million people living in the UK with a food allergy. This figure does not include the number of people who have food intolerances, which would in turn substantially increase the number of people who are impacted if they have a food allergy or intolerance.
About an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction can be produced by a tiny amount of food ingredient that a person is sensitive to. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild symptoms such as rashes to more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and on occasions anaphylaxis. Around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year.
What can be done?
There is no cure for food allergy, therefore the only way to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes the person ill. When you are attending events (including weddings) it is important that caterers provide clear and accurate information about allergenic ingredients in their products. Food Information Regulations 2014 introduces new rules for food businesses relating to the labelling and provision of allergen information.
What ingredients must a caterer declare to consumers?
The following ingredients must be declared to a consumer if they are added to food (the most common ones are in bold):
- Cereals containing gluten namely wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats and their hybridised strains and product thereof, except:
- Wheat based glucose syrups including dextrose
- Wheat based maltodextrins
- Glucose syrups on barley
- Cereals used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin.
- Crustaceans and products thereof (for example prawns, lobster, crabs and crayfish).
- Egg and products thereof.
- Fish and products thereof, except;
- Fish gelatine used as carrier for vitamin or carotenoid preparations.
- Fish gelatine or Isinglass used as a fining agent in beer and wine.
- Peanuts and products thereof.
- Soybeans and products thereof, except;
- Fully refined soybean oil and fat
- Natural mixed tocopherols (E306), natural D-alpha tocopherols, natural D-alpha tocopherol acetate and natural D –alpha tocopherol succinate from soybean sources
- Vegetable oils derived phytosterols and phytosterol esters from soybean sources
- Plant stanol ester produced from oil sterols from soybean sources
- Milk and products thereof (including lactose) except:
- Whey used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin.
- Nuts (namely almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut and Macadamia nut (Queensland nut) and products thereof except for nuts used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin.
- Celery and products thereof.
- Mustard and products thereof.
- Sesame seeds and products thereof.
- Sulpher dioxide and/or sulphites at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mgL (litre) in terms of the total SO2, which are to be calculated for products as proposed ready for consumption or as reconstituted according to the instructions of the manufacturers.
- Lupin and products thereof.
- Molluscs and products thereof (for example mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, snails and squid).
Tips for caterers to avoid breaking the law with regards to food labelling
- Businesses should review ingredients information for foods provided by them and ensure that their suppliers provide them with the necessary information to meet their obligations.
- Every caterer has a responsibility for ensuring that allergen information they provide is accurate.
- Should you not make reference to allergenic ingredients within a menu, it must be clear to a consumer where such information can be found. In such situations, there must be a statement that can be found on food menus or food labels. All mandatory allergen information on menus or signpost statements should be easily accessible and visible, and clearly legible to the final consumer regardless of whether they have a food allergy or not.
- Where food is provided through a buffet format, the allergen information should be provided for each food item separately.
- Some catering businesses may find it difficult to ensure written menus are kept up-to-date and displaying accurate information regarding allergenic ingredients used in products. Caterers do have the flexibility to provide such information orally. In such cases, consumers must be able to obtain information from members of the catering staff. If a catering business operates this approach they will need to ensure that there is a written notice, menu or label that is clearly visible, at the point that the consumer chooses their food, to indicate information is available from a member of staff.
- Caterers are recommended to have a system in place to ensure that when allergen information is provided orally to consumers, it is support by that information being available to staff and others in a recorded form (in writing for example) to provide consistency, accuracy and verifiable safety procedures.
The sanctions against Caterers for failing to comply?
Wedding and event caterers who do not comply with the above, risk committing a criminal offence. If found guilty, the fine can be of an unlimited amount.
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With the United Kingdom heading towards a mini heat wave, the wedding season is on the verge of kicking off. The Wedding Lawyer has interviewed, Parita Patel who has recently been awarded “best wedding planner of the year” about some of the common mistakes couples make when planning a wedding which has the potential to ruin your big day.
Restricted to using preferred caterers
An increasing number of wedding venues are insistent that you use their preferred and approved caterers. Parita states that venues do not always make it clear from the outset that you must use one of their preferred caterers and often couples are not informed about this until it is too late and they have already contracted with the venue. Being restricted to using preferred suppliers could be problematic as they can be costly and less flexible to meet your requirements. If you must use a preferred caterer, it maybe a good idea to negotiate your catering and venue contract simultaneously before entering into a contract with either supplier.
Curfews Catch outs
From Parita’s experience, many couples fail to acknowledge the curfews that are often in place at a venue. There maybe curfews in relation to when music must come to an end or in relation to delivering and picking up supplier equipment. It is essential that both sound and delivery curfews are carefully checked and provision is made for the wedding to finish at a reasonable time to allow for the suppliers to clear up. It is a common occurrence for suppliers to be unable to load their equipment following a wedding or reception due to a curfew and therefore, charged an additional fee for a next day collection.
If your wedding is taking place within a busy City Centre, parking costs for suppliers can sometimes be extortionate. However, where parking is not readily available at a reasonable cost, you may wish to consider approaching the local authority to obtain a low cost parking permit. Some local authorities categorise weddings as “special events” and on this basis are willing to issue parking permits for suppliers. This will allow your supplier to park on a yellow line when loading and unloading which is often more convenient and inexpensive compared to using designated City Centre car parks.
Using public spaces without obtaining local authority permission
Whether you decide to have an elaborate roadside wedding procession, use a photographic drone, host a pre or post wedding photo shoot in a public area or decide to park your wedding transportation on a road with parking restrictions, it maybe prudent to check with the relevant local authority to ensure there are no specific restrictions to your activities. Local authority representatives tend to be rather helpful if they know you are celebrating an important event and will provide you with relevant guidance. From experience, Parita also states that some Central London venues will ask that you obtain local authority permission if you decide to play loud music in public spaces (including on the doorstep of a Central London hotel). You can find details for your relevant local authority by visiting https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council
Planning a party at home?
With couples trying to save on wedding costs, it is becoming increasingly common to host a wedding event at home. If you are planning on hosting a wedding house party or pre-event, our recommendation is that you inform your local authority, particularly if there is likely to be loud music. Local authorities can send enforcement officers to houses where loud music continues persistently after 11pm. In extreme circumstances, enforcement officers can confiscate music equipment in a bid to bring the party to an end. Therefore, it is always a good idea to cooperate with your local authority. Another tip is to write a kind note to your neighbours informing them of the fact that there is a wedding party going on and manage their expectations as to when the party will be starting and finishing. Some couples even go as far as inviting their neighbours to their wedding event or a “pre-drink for neighbours” event to keep them sweet and to minimise the chances of a complaint being made.
Parita Patel was named “Best Wedding Planner of the Year” earlier this year. For more information about having Parita as your wedding planner, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rishtaaweddingsandevents.co.uk
For any further assistance in relation to this article contact: email@example.com