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Broken vows: misery locked for couples who still want a big wedding

Couples who have paid tens of thousands of pounds for a dream wedding this summer face a bitter fight to get their money back.

Small weddings with up to 30 guests have finally gotten started, with the first ceremonies since March last weekend.

Many couples are overjoyed that they can now officially tie the knot and are happy to postpone the reception again.

Aisle back: According to official figures, nearly 75,000 weddings were canceled in England between March 23 and July 3

Aisle back: According to official figures, nearly 75,000 weddings were canceled in England between March 23 and July 3

But for those who have paid for bigger parties, the new guidance can make it even more difficult to get their money back.

According to official figures, nearly 75,000 marriages were canceled in England between March 23 and July 3.

Most locations and vendors have worked tirelessly to help those affected find a new date, but some have been caught depositing thousands of pounds, charging high administration fees, or simply refusing to postpone couples altogether.

Those who are offered a different date may get a cheaper option, such as a Monday in February, instead of the Saturday in August they booked. It is then up to the location’s discretion to refund the difference.

Wedding planning website Bridebook estimates that 80 percent of locations are already booked for key summer dates by 2021.

Other couples feel they should pay thousands more pounds to get married in 2021 as some locations charge next year’s prices.

‘We’ve been waiting for this for 19 years’

53-year-old Celia Ashington and 60-year-old Gary Hudson were finally to get married last month

53-year-old Celia Ashington and 60-year-old Gary Hudson were finally to get married last month

53-year-old Celia Ashington and 60-year-old Gary Hudson were finally to get married last month

53-year-old Celia Ashington and 60-year-old Gary Hudson have been together for 19 years and would finally get married last month.

The couple had chosen a Tudor barn on the grounds of The Olde Bell Coaching Inn, a pub in Hurley – 25 miles from their home in Chalfont St Giles, Bucks.

They paid half of the total cost of £ 6,000 upfront and £ 611 to Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead for a registrar to perform the ceremony.

When lockdown meant their wedding breakfast was canceled, the pub refunded their £ 3,000 deposit.

Unsure how long it could take to get a 75-person wedding in the pub as planned, the couple decided to get married at their local church next month and no longer need a registrar.

Despite this, the council has refused to repay the £ 611. It said it would reschedule the service only for September.

Celia says, “We only wanted to get married in Maidenhead because the location was there. Once it closed and we decided to have a small wedding in our village, they should have agreed to return our money. ‘

A spokesman for Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead says it will not be liable for any loss if a wedding is canceled due to a “force majeure situation.”

Those who have made hefty down payments to florists and photographers can also lose if the supplier can’t make the new date.

Nearly half (43 percent) of the couples lost money because their wedding was canceled or postponed, and one in ten out of pocket because of the location, research from financial welfare app Dreams shows.

Others have lost hundreds of pounds after changing the date on rings, wedding favors, and gifts.

The average wedding in the UK costs around £ 31,974, according to website Hitched.co.uk. But this is expected to increase by £ 1,586 due to the pandemic.

Couples may also find that they cannot get marriage insurance to cover them if their location or suppliers go bankrupt due to coronavirus.

Most major insurance companies, including John Lewis and Debenhams, stopped selling wedding covers at the beginning of the crisis.

Some customers, such as John Lewis and Emerald Life, offer to extend coverage for existing customers for free, so that they remain protected until their new date.

Even then, many couples have found that their marriage insurance will not pay claims related to Covid-19, as the policies include exclusions for cancellations due to government or regulatory acts, such as lockdown restrictions.

In April, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) received a huge number of complaints about wedding venues that refused to refund customers and instead told couples to claim their money back on their insurance.

Consumer group Which? says it has heard from couples charged an 80 percent cancellation fee by Bijou Weddings Group.

However, the watchdog has clearly stated that venues should offer customers a full refund if the wedding could not go ahead due to lock restrictions.

It adds that refunds must be paid if the customer is “prevented from receiving services” due to locking.

But there’s no up-to-date guidance on what venues to do if your wedding can go ahead, but with far fewer guests and without many of the extras you were promised.

Police officers Gary Sharp, 38, and Samantha Lowes, 30, were supposed to get married two months ago, but had to postpone their big day until May 2021.

The couple, who live in Newcastle, were able to rearrange most of their £ 30,000 marriage for free.

But they still face a £ 2,000 bill to send a new batch of invitations, buy new flower girl dresses for growing children, and replace hundreds of pounds of hip flasks, wedding candies, and coat hangers with the old-date label.

The average wedding in the UK costs around £ 31,974, according to wedding website Hitched.co.uk. But due to the pandemic, this is now expected to rise by £ 1,586

The average wedding in the UK costs around £ 31,974, according to wedding website Hitched.co.uk. But due to the pandemic, this is now expected to rise by £ 1,586

The average wedding in the UK costs around £ 31,974, according to wedding website Hitched.co.uk. But due to the pandemic, this is now expected to rise by £ 1,586

A claim on their insurance policy from Debenhams was denied as it had arisen as a result of a ‘Government regulation or law’.

Gary says, “There has been no empathy at all.”

Adam French, or Which?, Says, “If the venue can’t provide the wedding you paid for, get your money back. If you want to move the date, this should also be an option.

“If you booked a Saturday first class in June and it has been moved to a Tuesday in November, you must be refunded accordingly to reflect the cost of the date.”

If you decide to go ahead with a small wedding, you should be entitled to a partial refund, but it’s up to you to negotiate.

Mr. French says: “Ask the provider about a breakdown of the costs and agree on a payment based on this. If they are not fair, you may need to take the company to small claims court. But you can only do this if your wedding costs less than £ 10,000. ‘

If you paid with a debit or credit card, you can file a chargeback or a section 75 claim with your bank or card provider because you didn’t get what you paid for.

a.murray@dailymail.co.uk

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