Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Wedding Venue just closed ...... Now what?

This morning I woke to the news that a very popular New York City wedding and event venue was closed by the fire department because it's second floor balcony was experiencing severe structural issues.  Now I could play the should of, could of, would of game, but the truth is, I don't know what's really going on.

What I do know is that there are a lot of panicked brides and wedding planners scrambling this morning.  Panic is setting in as I'm sure they are demanding answers as to if their wedding will take place there this weekend.  If they will get their money back and so on…

What do you do if this happens to you?  There are many scenarios, twists and turns that can take place when your venue is shut down.  Therefore, the following tips are just that, tips to help guide you through the process.  They are not written in stone and you should adapt them as you need to for your own situation.

The first thing you do is take a deep breath.  If you don't already have a planner, I recommend reaching out to one immediately.  Explain your situation to them and at the very least see if they would be willing to have you hire them on a retainer basis to help you through your crisis and even pick up the pieces and finish planning your wedding.  While you think you can do the planning on your own, this is one reason why it's worth spending the extra money.  Wedding planners offer peace of mind!

If you already have a planner, chances are they are on top of the situation.  Have a quick conversation with them and allow them to come up with a strategy.  As a planner we always have a Plan A, B, C and so on.

If you don’t have a planner and do not have the means for one, immediately reach out both via email and phone to the venue.  Find out the story from them, keeping in mind that if they don't get to you right away, it's not that they are ignoring you, but most likely they are trying to come up with a plan of action themselves.  For this particular NYC venue, my guess is, it's as much of a shock to them as it is to you that they have to close down.  They need time to develop a plan and manage their clients appropriately.

The one thing you do not want to do is start making demands.  Anytime you demand something, any concessions they were going to make on your behalf go right out the window!  So don't threaten them with "My father, brother, uncle or sister is a lawyer" trick.  At that point they'll have to get their lawyer involved and then it just gets expensive and messy.

Once you've reached out and you know the full story sit down with your parents, planner and fiancé.  Come up with a reasonable plan.  If your wedding is in six months chances are the venue will work hard to reopen.

If it's less than six months this is where your contract comes in.  Find out what your cancellation clause is.  Can you get your money back?  Hopefully, your venue will act in good faith and they will give you your deposits back.  If you have paid by credit card you should contact the credit card company to inquire about their refund policy given the situation.

If your wedding is this weekend then this is where your planner (if you have one) is worth their weight in gold!  Allow them to start calling venues on your behalf to find one that is suitable for you and your wedding.  If you have a caterer can they work in the space?  Immediately call all your vendors and explain what's going on. Almost all wedding vendors are going to do what it takes to make sure you have your day.  Even if it means they need to make some changes.  

If you do have to make the unfortunate change at the last minute I have a few recommendations.

  1. As soon as you have a new venue, immediately contact guests via e-mail or phone letting them know of the change.  Recruit friends and family to help.
  2. If you are not able to reach all of your guests, have a contact with the new address and directions waiting at the original venue to direct guests to the new location.  If possible, arrange transportation to and from the original venue to the new location.
  3. Since the new venue will likely not accommodate the exact layout and set-up that you envisioned for your wedding, work with your vendors, the event professionals, to make everything work in the new space.  Accept the change and know that it will all be beautiful.
While it is easier said than done, don't panic.  Step back and look at the overall situation, then use all of the assets at your disposal, planner, other vendors, etc. and come up with a strategy to pull everything together to overcome this obstacle and still have a wonderful wedding.

Regardless of the situation, don't forget that the key is to enjoy the day!

Here's to many happy weddings this season and...


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