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Brides! Your Contracts Do Not Protect You Should a Hurricane/Natural Disaster Strike! What You Need to Know!

Updated on October 12, 2018
Deborah McCoy profile image

Deborah McCoy is president of the American Academy of Wedding Professionals and is the author of bridal-reference books.

Hurricane Michael destroys Mexico Beach, Florida.
Hurricane Michael destroys Mexico Beach, Florida. | Source

Natural Disasters Can Wreck Havoc on Wedding Plans!

The U.S.has suffered major damage along the East and Gulf coasts, due to major hurricanes that struck at the height of the summer season and in the fall--not to mention Hurricane Michael which recently devastated the Panhandle of Florida.

This hurricane, like another major storm called Wilma, hit Florida in October. The fall is a good time to get married in Florida--the weather is warm and beautiful--and the ocean's temperatures are like bath-water, perfect for swimming, but also perfect for fueling major hurricanes.

The question is: What happens to weddings when hurricanes/natural disasters come knocking? Unfortunately, many assume that wedding vendors/venues will be willing and able to change their dates and transfer their deposits. But that isn't always the case.

Your Vendor/Venue Contracts Do NOT Protect YOU!

When Hurricane Sandy hit, the TV media showcased stranded brides-to-be and their grooms, scrambling to change their wedding plans in the face of this disaster. And we watched countless “good” stories on the tube, tales of vendors/venues who bent over backwards to help couples in need, move their receptions, etc. or refund their money. How wonderful!

The reality, however, was very different. We at the American Academy of Wedding Professionals heard tales of wedding vendors/venues who would NOT refund or transfer the brides-to-be and grooms’ deposits, or give them the opportunity to change their wedding date—and their contracts backed them up. These brides- and grooms-to-be were out of luck! It's because of something called an "Act of God" clause.

Every vendor/venue contract has one and it simply states, for example:

A party shall not be liable for any failure of or delay in the performance of this Agreement for the period that such failure or delay is due to causes beyond its reasonable control, including but not limited to, acts of God, war, strikes or labor disputes, embargoes, government orders or any other force majeure (superior force) event. (

What this means is: When a hurricane or natural disaster hits, you've lost your deposits, etc. and the right to transfer them or change the date.

It's called an "ACT OF GOD" clause and every wedding vendor/venue contract has one!
It's called an "ACT OF GOD" clause and every wedding vendor/venue contract has one! | Source

The Solutions For YOU In The Event of Hurricanes/Natural Disasters...

There are two lessons to be learned here and two solutions:

* The first is always get wedding insurance. Many prestigious companies offer wedding insurance and it's very affordable. Just do a search and select the company that offers the best value for your dollar and one that addresses your particular needs. Also, research these companies as far as their credibility, etc. In other words, Do they pay their claims without undue hassle or don’t they?

* The second is to read your contracts thoroughly, including the fine print! Neither a vendor/venue nor a client should be held responsible in the event an “act of God” should occur. The client as well as the vendor/venue should honor the client’s right to transfer the deposit to another affair, to be held at a later date. Make sure this is written into your contracts!

NOTE: Should the natural disaster occur after the caterer's/vendor's food is ordered, or flowers, for example, the contract should state that the client will pay 50% of the total estimated cost of the products/services provided by the vendor/venue. *Naturally, the majority of this cost will be covered by your 50% deposit.

Contract Caution! There’s no excuse, ever, not to read the "fine print". And remember: Contracts are meant to be negotiated. They must be fair to both parties!


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