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.

  1. 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.

Immediate steps

You could consider completing the following steps:

  1. Contacting your supplier to check that they are still open and trading.
  2. Consider whether you and the supplier can still meet the terms of the contract.
  3. Be clear on your payment plans going forward.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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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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Wedding Preparations. Emotions run high. Expectations are not met. This is the perfect setting for an Eastenders episode. However, in binding two lovebirds in matrimony, it is important that other relationships remain as intact as possible. Yes, weddings can bring people together but on numerous occasions they have split people apart. Therefore, we have set out our 10 habits to prevent arguments between family and friends.

  1. It is not what you say, but how you say it.

Whilst you may not like some of the wedding ideas and suggestions by family or friends remember to control your reaction  when you are not agreement. Remember it is not what you say but the manner, tone and the words you use to communicate it.

  1. Form a committee of advisors

Any large project can benefit from a small team of advisors to assist you and your partner to sanity check ideas and plans for your big day. It is worth informally recruiting 2 or 3 trusted friends or colleagues (ideally not family) to act as a soundboard and to provide feedback on any plans/ideas you may have.

  1. List your nearest and dearest and allocate them a responsibility

Family and friends may have huge expectations when someone close to them gets married. Therefore, it is important to manage expectations as best as possible. Start off by creating a list of all the people who are close or who may communicate discontent if they are not involved on your wedding day. Then simply allocate these people with a responsibility before or on the big day. It doesn’t have to be a major role – it could be as simple as allowing them to be an usher. The aim is to make the important people feel included and enrolled on your big day.

  1. Address the elephant in the room

If you find that you have had a dispute or disagreement with a family member or friend about your wedding prep, do not ignore it. Also, avoid the silent treatment. When preparing for a wedding, every day counts and you simply cannot afford to waste planning days due to a disagreement. Aim to get to the centre of the issue as quickly as possible and find a way to resolve it.

  1. Couples come first

As you are the couple getting married, your wishes and desires must prevail over any pressures you may get from family and friends to do something in a certain way. Aim to gain clarity with your partner on how you would like to proceed with your wedding plans before taking on family members who may disagree with you. By being on “the same page” as your partner will give you the conviction and strength to stand your ground.

  1. Take regular breaks from Wedding Admin

Weddings are important but do not let them take over your life. Take breaks from planning and allow yourself to focus on our aspects of your life too. All too often, disagreements are a result of overworked and tired minds that are fixated on certain ideas associated with the big day.

  1. Create rules about guest lists from the outset

A ridiculous number of disputes arise from negotiating with family members about guest lists. From the outset, work out the maximum number of people you are looking to invite followed by setting rules about who makes the cut. Examples may include: not inviting anyone who hasn’t ever spoken to the couple, no long lost aunts and uncles or no work colleagues. By creating rules, this allows everyone to be on an equal footing. An alternative method is to provide each family member with an allocated number of guests they can invite. They are then free to invite anyone as long as they come within the allocation.

  1. Retreat from tradition and be creative

We are living in the 21st century. Your family may place pressure on you to adopt traditions and rituals. These are great but if they are likely to cause the couple to be unhappy, it is worth substituting tradition for a more modern and creative approach. E.g. putting the names of all the parents on an invitation card or forgoing a particular aspect of the traditional ceremony. Remember, a couple should be united on their approach if they decide to depart from a tradition or ritual as it is likely to be greeted with some protest from a family member.

  1. Have a leader to make the final decisions 

In the event of dispute or conflict, there needs to be a bold leader who will make the final decision in order to progress the wedding planning. This may well be the couple or a wedding planner but there needs to be someone who makes the difficult decisions to ensure disputes to not drag on.

  1. Finally, if all else fails consider getting married abroad!

It is fascinating how much simpler it can become when you decide to get married abroad. You can invite more people (knowing many will probably not attend) and a lot of your work could be outsourced to wedding planners in your host country meaning you are free to enjoy the wedding festivities leading up to the big day.

Before we begin, it is important to stress how important it is for you to make sure there is a contract in place between you and your wedding supplier. Irrespective of how well you may know your supplier, a written agreement is crucial as it will ensure both you and your supplier are clear on the obligations that need to be met prior, during and after the big day.

It is advisable to insist on a contract being given to you and to ensure you understand each of the terms before signing it. Once you have signed the contract, make sure you keep all your supplier contracts somewhere safe, so you can refer to it should you need to.

4 important things to look out for before signing a contract:

Contracts will vary depending on who the supplier is. However, here are our recommendations on what to look out for prior to signing a contract:

  1. Length of the contract – contracts vary in length depending on the services being supplied. Whilst there is no general rule as to how long a contract should be, if you are given a contract that is no longer than a page or two, particularly where the value of the contract is considerable (i.e. the price you are paying for the services), carefully check to ensure there is nothing of real importance left out.
  1. When reading the contract, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are the names of the parties correct?
  • Is the venue(s) and date(s) correct?
  • Has the supplier listed in sufficient detail exactly what services they will be supplying?
  • Is there clear guidance as to what time the supplier should arrive and finish?
  • Does the contract state who will be the point of contact in the provision of the services and if so, what the best contact number is for the point of contact?
  • Has the supplier clearly stated how much the total amount will be for the services? If so, does the price include VAT?
  • Is there clear guidance as to when the deposits and balance of payment is due? Quite often, there will be an option to pay in instalments, if this is the case, are you sure you can pay on the dates provided?
  • Is there guidance as to what the penalties are if the wedding day overruns and doesn’t comply with agreed timings?
  • Is there guidance on what happens in the event of you having to cancel the booking?
  • If your wedding supplier is attending the ceremony or reception, have they stipulated any requirements they may require on the day? E.g. a meal, certain number of rest breaks, accommodation. If so, are you in a position to make provision for this?
  • Is there a provision for what happens in the event of your chosen supplier not being able to attend your event? Can the supplier substitute the services? If so, would the substitution be to someone of the same or higher quality?
  • Is there a requirement that you carry out a wedding insurance in the event of cancellation?
  1. Cancellation issues

There are times when due to unforeseen circumstances wedding days have to be cancelled. A well drafted supply contract should include guidance as to what happens in the event of cancellation and what the financial implications are for both the consumer and supplier. In other words, what refund will you receive if you cancel and what penalty the supplier will pay if they cancel. Quite often, the closer the cancellation is to the date of the wedding, the less of a refund you are likely to receive. Similarly, it is important to be clear on what the supplier will give you if they cancel. Unfortunately some supplier contracts leave fail to mention what will happen in the event of them cancelling, therefore, it is important you check this before signing.

4.    If you are not clear, do not commit

Contracts are there to protect you as a consumer but are also there to protect the business interests of the wedding supplier. Therefore, it is just as important that you are able to meet each of the contractual obligations as it is for your supplier. Before signing the supplier contract, ensure you can meet each of your obligations. If you feel, you need more information or clarity about your obligations, you are encouraged to obtain these first before signing anything. For example, prior to signing a catering contract, you may need to obtain information about the venue (e.g. the kitchen specification or loading points). Ensure you have all the information you need from your other suppliers before you sign the agreement in case you find you are unable to commit.

Should you require any guidance on interpreting or analysing a supplier contract, contact info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk