Q: Can a venue keep my deposit for a wedding planned for August 2020?
We paid a deposit for a venue in Oregon for an August wedding. Due to COVID-19, the venue is telling us we are being limited to 25 people. We asked for our deposit back and they are refusing. Not only are they refusing to return our deposit, they are telling me they will be grabbing the remainder of the balance from my credit card tomorrow. What are my legal rights here?
A: The answer to this question will depend on a number of specific factors--and COVID-19 makes matters even more complicated. Everyone, including attorneys who assist clients with the law, and lawmakers...who make the laws, are in uncharted territory right now; unfortunately, you too are impacted by this.
Ordinarily, when you book a venue you will sign an agreement and the provisions of that agreement will bind the parties i.e. the venue and you, with respect to what can, and cannot, happen. The best place to begin is with the agreement--the agreement should provide direction with respect to cancellation and could even contain what is called a 'force majeure' provision that (might) apply. Even if the agreement doesn't contain these specific provisions, it likely provides some direction that, again, will be a good starting place.
Depending on the contract you could have any number of options. At a base level, you have those rights afforded to any party to a contract and these may very well offer you some protections.
Right now, because COVID is impacting everyone in one way or another, it is difficult to predict how COVID will ultimately impact situations such as this.
An attorney will review the specific language in your contract and apply it to the situation--with this information, you will be more fully equipped to address this situation.
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