Why Wedding Vendors have Non-Refundable Deposits
When starting to plan their wedding, most couples have not had experience in looking through pages and pages of vendor contracts (and why would you unless part of your current job is event planning?) So many are surprised to see one phrase over and over again throughout these contracts: Non-refundable Deposit.
I often hear “So wait… if something changes I won’t get that back?” No, unfortunately, you won’t. Once that deposit is paid, it’s paid.
You may start out thinking that is entirely unfair but I’m going to explain the reasoning behind this policy on almost every vendor contract throughout the wedding industry.
Wedding vendors in general have non-refundable deposits for three reasons:
People Break Off Engagements 20% of the Time
(See this article for the research behind that statistic.) This means approximately 1 out of every 5 of our clients may cancel their wedding. From a business perspective, that means we could lose up to 20% of our profits which is an extremely high rate in any industry and would mean that quality vendors could often go out of business due to no fault of their own. Because of that, we need the “insurance” of the non-refundable deposit to offset this unfortunate statistic.
“I Changed My Mind”
When you are wedding planning, there are like 1,000 new, shiny objects coming at you (hopefully with diamonds attached!) It’s easy to commit to something and then find another that is “better.” While it’s ok for couples to change their mind on style, design, layout or a million other things, it’s not the same to change their mind with vendors. That vendor is committing their time, efforts and experience to their clients and have limited
resources to do that with multiple couples for the same date. Which leads to my third point...
One of our biggest “resources” is our available weekends. When someone calls off their wedding 3 months before the big day or changes their mind on the original vendor, we will be hard pressed to re-book that date. With only 4 weekends a month, if we lose one wedding, we lose 25% of our income for that month. It’s extremely difficult to support a life and a family with that kind of uncertainty. If we had to give back the deposit on top of that, we would not only be losing that expected income but also having to come up with additional money to pay back that deposit.
There is one scenario that you may be fully justified in asking for your deposit back and that is if your vendor is not doing what they contractually agreed to do. Meaning if they are supposed to be getting you items by certain deadlines or are not performing duties the way the contract outlines, you have a right to ask for that deposit back. But please note that this is discussing what they are contractually obligated to and not what you think they should be doing. There is a very big difference in this and I strongly encourage you to communicate with your vendor if you feel they are not holding up their end of the agreement. Document this as well. Do it via email so that it’s easily shareable if you do decide you want to seek legal action to get your deposit back.
Phew!! We made it! I really want to be as transparent as possible with you all about this topic. It’s one that many shy away from because it’s an “icky” topic of money and contracts (which no born and raised Midwestern girl would actually want to discuss. #aimiright) Weddings are supposed to be sparkly and filled with champagne but it may also be one of the biggest financial investments you’ve made so far. And since we’re all grown ups here, I intend to be as straightforward with you as I can be.
I’d be remiss not to point out that this is also one of the reasons that hiring a planner can be a huge asset for you. They can help guide you to the vendors that are right for you so you don’t have to second guess them for even one second. They also are there to help you read through those pages and pages of contracts and explain any other clauses or terms that you aren’t familiar with. And, in the event that you do need to cancel, postpone your wedding and deal with anything else life may throw at you (worldwide pandemic anyone?!) they will be there to help you work with those amazing vendors and their contracts.
Written by Jenna Culley, Owner & Event Planner of Jenna Culley Events