Destination Weddings Discussions

COVID-19 destination wedding help! Please!

Hi all, looking for some advice and help please! I was planning a destination wedding for France this summer (July). We were recommended a wedding planner by our photographer and signed the contract on March 2. Two weeks later, the covid19 pandemic took over and all the international travel bans came into effect. No work on the planning side had ever started. I tried to reach out to my planner several times throughout these few months, and each time it took over 2 weeks to get a response. Long story short, I asked for a refund on the deposit in May, due to the fact that the pandemic is still going on and that US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to France. I had to follow up multiple times to even get a response from them, their reason being that they are overwhelmed with postponements of all the 2020 weddings. They agreed that no work was ever started and are offering a partial refund of 55% (stating that they had to pay taxes of 45% on the deposit received, even though it is not revenue if no event is occurring?) I mentioned to them that I don’t believe I should be responsible for paying the taxes as no work was ever started, and to be quite honest, I could never get in contact with them. I feel upset due to the fact that I trusted them to be my planner, helping me throughout this most stressful and difficult time of having to postpone one of the most important days of my life, however, they never once reached out to me during the pandemic to ask how I was feeling, what I was thinking, if I had any backup options, etc. I personally had to negotiate a rescheduling / postponement schedule with my photographer and hair and makeup vendors, which I feel the planner should have helped with that. Furthermore, when I tried to reach out to them, I had to wait 2+ weeks to get a response, which makes me feel they prioritized other clients over me since they kept stating that they were busy with all the postponements. In addition, our wedding contract states that deposits are only refundable due to force majeure, which covid19 falls under, however, they are still refusing to provide a full refund. They state that there is a French law which states they can provide a credit good for 18 months, however, would you still want to use them again given that they havw not been responsive during some of the most stressful times of your life? Please advise on whether I am making too big of a deal on this or how I should respond from here? Thank you so much!!!

Re: COVID-19 destination wedding help! Please!

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited June 29

    Hi all, looking for some advice and help please! I was planning a destination wedding for France this summer (July). We were recommended a wedding planner by our photographer and signed the contract on March 2. Two weeks later, the covid19 pandemic took over and all the international travel bans came into effect. No work on the planning side had ever started. I tried to reach out to my planner several times throughout these few months, and each time it took over 2 weeks to get a response. Long story short, I asked for a refund on the deposit in May, due to the fact that the pandemic is still going on and that US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to France. I had to follow up multiple times to even get a response from them, their reason being that they are overwhelmed with postponements of all the 2020 weddings. They agreed that no work was ever started and are offering a partial refund of 55% (stating that they had to pay taxes of 45% on the deposit received, even though it is not revenue if no event is occurring?) I mentioned to them that I don’t believe I should be responsible for paying the taxes as no work was ever started, and to be quite honest, I could never get in contact with them. I feel upset due to the fact that I trusted them to be my planner, helping me throughout this most stressful and difficult time of having to postpone one of the most important days of my life, however, they never once reached out to me during the pandemic to ask how I was feeling, what I was thinking, if I had any backup options, etc. I personally had to negotiate a rescheduling / postponement schedule with my photographer and hair and makeup vendors, which I feel the planner should have helped with that. Furthermore, when I tried to reach out to them, I had to wait 2+ weeks to get a response, which makes me feel they prioritized other clients over me since they kept stating that they were busy with all the postponements. In addition, our wedding contract states that deposits are only refundable due to force majeure, which covid19 falls under, however, they are still refusing to provide a full refund. They state that there is a French law which states they can provide a credit good for 18 months, however, would you still want to use them again given that they havw not been responsive during some of the most stressful times of your life? Please advise on whether I am making too big of a deal on this or how I should respond from here? Thank you so much!!!

    To start with, it's certainly understandable that they would prioritize clients that have vendors and planning in place and need immediate action to get resolution. Two week response time during a global pandemic is actually pretty good. Many people experienced lack of communication for months while businesses were shut down, and in many cases there was nothing they could have told you in March/April pertaining to what would be happening in July. Also, expecting them to reach out to you to see how you are feeling is absurd. They are wedding planners, not therapists. It sounds like you did have communication with them during this time period. 

    Many places in the US have had conflicting rules on whether the pandemic is considered force majeure. For that and for the tax and credit question, your only option would be to contact a french lawyer. Only you can balance whether the 45% and the time would be worth paying for advice.

    In the US, most places have been sticking by their non-refundable deposits for people who've had to cancel due to covid (but allowing deposits to be transferred for postponements). While US and France are very different, I would expect that most couples would be happy to get back 55% on a cancellation. It sucks all the way around, but this is not something the business is doing to be malicious. It sounds like you want the business to compensate you because of the pandemic caused stress, and that's just not realistic. 

    ETA words. 

     
    charlotte989875levioosa
  • I think @MyNameIsNot hit it on the head.  

    Force majeure is not completely applying in all cases for covid.  You'd need these documents reviewed by a lawyer to advise if that applies.

    I'm also going to remind you that you're dealing with a business who has MANY clients. The intent is not to tell you that your stress isn't real however you do need to keep in mind that in addition to your stress is the stress of every other person or group that is planning an event that needs to be cancelled or postponed due to covid along with the stress of those working in that business (and owning it) due to covid as well.   

    We are seeing how Covid is a huge health crisis and secondary to that is the financial crisis it's caused both for businesses and those working with them.   Please be patient.  I realize that may be easier said than done but for many, acts of God are one-off instances and not pandemics that force them to be closed for months.  It's unprecedented.   Your stress is absolutely yours and you are entitled to it.   But PLEASE try to understand that everyone else in that business is going through the same thing and more than likely on a larger scale. 
  • Hi all, looking for some advice and help please! I was planning a destination wedding for France this summer (July). We were recommended a wedding planner by our photographer and signed the contract on March 2. Two weeks later, the covid19 pandemic took over and all the international travel bans came into effect. No work on the planning side had ever started. I tried to reach out to my planner several times throughout these few months, and each time it took over 2 weeks to get a response. Long story short, I asked for a refund on the deposit in May, due to the fact that the pandemic is still going on and that US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to France. I had to follow up multiple times to even get a response from them, their reason being that they are overwhelmed with postponements of all the 2020 weddings. They agreed that no work was ever started and are offering a partial refund of 55% (stating that they had to pay taxes of 45% on the deposit received, even though it is not revenue if no event is occurring?) I mentioned to them that I don’t believe I should be responsible for paying the taxes as no work was ever started, and to be quite honest, I could never get in contact with them. I feel upset due to the fact that I trusted them to be my planner, helping me throughout this most stressful and difficult time of having to postpone one of the most important days of my life, however, they never once reached out to me during the pandemic to ask how I was feeling, what I was thinking, if I had any backup options, etc. I personally had to negotiate a rescheduling / postponement schedule with my photographer and hair and makeup vendors, which I feel the planner should have helped with that. Furthermore, when I tried to reach out to them, I had to wait 2+ weeks to get a response, which makes me feel they prioritized other clients over me since they kept stating that they were busy with all the postponements. In addition, our wedding contract states that deposits are only refundable due to force majeure, which covid19 falls under, however, they are still refusing to provide a full refund. They state that there is a French law which states they can provide a credit good for 18 months, however, would you still want to use them again given that they havw not been responsive during some of the most stressful times of your life? Please advise on whether I am making too big of a deal on this or how I should respond from here? Thank you so much!!!

    You will likely need a French lawyer to determine if COVID-19 is considered a force majeure, which hasn’t been interpreted consistently in the US. I also think if there are laws allowing a credit for the future it might be hard to argue to get your entire deposit back because they are willing/able to work with you for your rescheduled/postponed date. 

    I think only you can decide if losing the 45% is more than trying to fight it with a French lawyer/legal expert from the US. 

    I do think you’re making too much of their responsiveness. You said they got back to you each time within two weeks but prioritized folks who had earlier dates- that seems to be the case for most all businesses these days, especially those that were completely shuttered in the pandemic. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to see how you’re feeling regarding the pandemic, that’s not really what they are there for. 
    banana468levioosa
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