Feb 28, 2011

44b. When Wedding Insurance Matters

When we begin planning our weddings, we never dream something could go incredibly wrong. We plan, we organize and we make sure to cross all T's and dot all I's. Read below and see how Melissa took her wedding venue woes and turned into a learning lesson for the future for the positive.
Starting to plan our wedding felt like a whirlwind. I bought wedding magazine and scoured the Internet for locations as soon as I could. When I found the Elkins Estate I thought it was perfect. An old estate with architecture based off a vintage Italian building just outside of Philadelphia. It was gorgeous. The tall ceilings, chandeliers, grand staircase, and paintings on the ceilings made me fall in love with the building.

We began reviewing the contract immediately. Since the Estate was newly bought by the Land Conservancy of Elkins Park they were offering a discount: put 50% down and save 10%. Sounded amazing to us. After all we were positive we wanted to have our wedding there. So we did it. We put 50% of the fee down as well as an additional fee to have an outside caterer. We also paid for both liability and cancellation wedding insurance through WedSafe. The Estate required the liability insurance to protect the historic integrity of the building and since the cancellation insurance was only a little bit extra we went for it too.

A year later (we are having a two+ year engagement) I received an email that is every bride’s biggest fear. The email was a few paragraphs long but all I saw were the words “no choice but to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.” I spent the next few hours going from panic attack to researching other wedding venues. I didn’t sleep much the next few nights being terrified that 1) they had so much of our money and 2) that we didn’t have a place to get married. Even when I did start sleeping again it was not a good nights sleep for a few weeks while I went over every possibility in my head.

The Estate was and is continuing to maintain the fact that they believe they will continue holding weddings there. There is no guarantee though and it is impossible to plan a wedding without a secure venue. Several other brides have informed me that they are holding out because the venue representatives have ensured them it will all work out okay. But there is no guarantee so all anyone can do is sit and wait to see what happens or cancel and find a new place. For me the stress of it all was not worth waiting.

Once I had time to get my head straightened out I called up our wedding insurance company to ask them our options. Since we had purchased the cancellation insurance we were able to get half of the missing deposits back. It was such good news despite the fact that we were still our a few grand.

We recently signed a new contract at a new venue. It’s no Italian estate but it is very elegant with high ceilings and chandeliers. Also due to its location we no longer need extra transportation, which saves us money.

Thanks to the cancellation insurance we were also able to file a claim for extra expenses receiving the rest of the deposit we paid to the Estate as well as extra money that it is costing to re-locate the wedding. The insurance only cost a few hundred to purchase and yet they have paid us several thousand back due this whole mess of a situation.

So what did I learn from all of this? 
  1. Getting engaged is very exciting and it feels like you need to start everything right away and that every decision can make or break a wedding. But it won't. So think with a straight head rather than your emotions.
  2. Businesses always look out for themselves even if they say they are working to protect you. Look out for yourself.
  3. Never put down more than necessary for a deposit. Especially when it is a new business or organization. Saving a couple hundred is not worth risking a few thousand.
  4. Insurance is definitely a great idea. Paying an extra a few hundred seems like a lot when you're thinking nothing will ever happen. But things do happen. And insurance will protect you. If you are going to pay for insurance for a car or a house why not buy insurance for another big expense: a wedding. 

- Melissa

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