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Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?

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Written by Uswitch Admin, Content Editor

Edited by Marianne Curphey, Finance Writer, 27 October 2020

Credit cards offer great protection especially when making big purchases concerning events like weddings. Find out how best to use yours to protect your special day and what to do if your wedding organiser goes bust.
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Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?
Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?

Weddings have been affected by the rules around COVID-19, and although ceremonies are allowed to take place in some areas, gatherings have been limited to a small number of people. Many wedding providers have been hit by cancellations.

We look at what the rules are around holding a wedding under the current lockdown rules, and what to do if your wedding organiser has gone out of business.

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Weddings and catering – what are my rights?

“I paid the deposit for a caterer for my wedding on my credit card but the supplier has gone bust. What are my rights and can I get my deposit back?”

Answer: If you paid for any items for your wedding on your credit card, whether goods or services, and the supplier has failed to deliver, you may be able to get your money back thanks to an important piece of consumer protection legislation.

How does paying on credit card protect my money?

Credit cards offer something incredibly convenient when it comes to consumer protection: Section 75. This is a provision of the Consumer Credit Act that splits the legal responsibility for a purchase between your provider and the seller.

Section 75 is designed for exactly this kind of situation when a wedding organiser or wedding venue goes bust, or your honeymoon or holiday is cancelled.

How does credit card protection for weddings work?

If you order something for your wedding and the retailer goes bust you're entitled to all your money back through your card provider. It's that simple.

As with anything financial the process of making your claim and actually getting your hands on the money could be complicated, but the legal basis is safe. Just make sure you quote Section 75 when you're making the claim. You can do this by contacting your credit card provider and explaining the situation.

Crucially Section 75 is limited to claims over £100, and no more than £30,000.

Is Section 75 the only protection I have?

For a service like catering Section 75 is your best bet. Other legal coverage like the Sale of Goods Act and Distance Selling Regulations apply to goods, not services.

If you've paid by debit card another possibility may be chargeback. Chargeback is basically a way of reversing a charge, but as it's not subject to the same legal enforcement as Section 75 it's not guaranteed. You can also try putting forward a chargeback claim for credit card purchases under £100.

What are the current rules regarding weddings and wedding ceremonies under lockdown?

In March 2020 at the start of lockdown Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned all weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, although funerals were allowed to continue with a limited number of mourners and with social distancing measure in place.

As lockdown eased in June 2020, small wedding ceremonies were allowed to go ahead. However, under new three tier lockdown measures announced in October 2020, wedding receptions will not be allowed to go ahead in certain high-risk areas.

As the rules are changing all the time, and different regions are moving in and out of the tiered restrictions, it's important to check up on the rules before organising a wedding.

Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?
Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?

What are the latest rules covering weddings and COVID-19 in the UK?

The latest rules, published by the government in October 2020, have imposed further restrictions on weddings in Tier 3 areas, the regions which are considered the highest risk for growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

These rules affect both weddings and ceremonies for civil partnerships. Under current guidelines, up to 15 people will be allowed at ceremonies, in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas in England. However, in Tier 3 although 15 people will be able to attend the ceremony, they will not be allowed to attend a reception afterwards. For those holding wedding receptions in Tier 1 and Tier 2, the venue and reception must be “Covid-secure”.

The rules on weddings and ceremonies for civil partnerships vary widely across the UK.

  • In Northern Ireland, ceremonies are limited to 25 people, with no receptions permitted.

  • In Scotland, a group of up to 20 people is allowed to attend a wedding ceremony.

  • In Wales there is a limit of up to 30 people who are allowed to attend a wedding reception.

Under current rules, people from outside Wales are currently not allowed to cross the border to enter the country if they're coming from high risk areas in England.

Across the UK, groups of more than six people from different households are not allowed to meet up. However, the government has made an exception for weddings and funerals.

How will coronavirus affect my wedding?

The government has published guidelines on how venues and families can have a Covid-secure wedding. This includes keeping ceremonies short, capping the number of people who are allowed to attend, and making sure that social distancing rules are observed.

This includes people from different households staying apart and not mixing. It also means ensuring a track and trace system is in place in case anyone needs to be contacted after the wedding, should a guest develop coronavirus symptoms.

Wedding organiser has gone bust. What are my rights?

Should I cancel my wedding because of coronavirus?

Deciding whether or not to cancel or postpone your wedding or civil ceremony is a difficult decision. You may wish to get married for religious or family reasons and not want to delay the event.

It's not clear when coronavirus restrictions will be fully lifted, so if you decide to delay your wedding it may be some time before you can have a large gathering of family and friends again.

If you want to cancel your wedding it's a good idea to talk to the provider of the wedding venue to see what options are available. You may be able to postpone the ceremony to a later date, or come up with an alternative wedding which meets most of your requirements while still obeying the COVID-19 rules.

This might also mean that you do not lose your deposit, especially if you have already had a food-tasting session with the venue provider.

You may have to negotiate with the venue and wedding organiser to get a refund or discount. You're entitled to ask for a fee reduction if the reception and ceremony are going to be much smaller than originally planned. 

Overall, it's a personal choice that you should make with your partner and your two families, in order to ensure that you have a good day even if the numbers of guests will have to be restricted.