The last thing that a bride or groom wants is to need a lawyer to answer “Can I Sue My Wedding Vendor”. The short answer is yes, you can sue your wedding vendor. Common problems with wedding vendors arise when the wedding photographer, venue, DJ, band or the wedding caterer are negligent, breach the contract or fail to perform as promised.
It is rare that anything, including a wedding, goes perfectly. However, there is a difference between a minor error and a serious problem that results in a major impact on a wedding day.
With COVID, many problems arose with weddings including venue cancellations and non-refundable deposits. Many couples postponed their wedding or reception, which has caused a huge increase in the number of weddings and receptions planned for post-COVID. The pent-up demand and limited supply of wedding vendors ends up causing logistical problems often due to overbooking, a lack of supplies or experienced employees, or vendors simply behaving unprofessionally.
A serious problem on a wedding day can result in that special memory being tarnished. Instead of remembering the positives, looking at wedding photographs and thinking back can cause feelings of frustration and upset that arose as the result of negligence at the wedding.
When a serious problem arises that impacts the big day, legal action may be required to make things right and to hold the breaching or negligent wedding vendors responsible with legal action.
The attorneys at Whitney, LLP have experience helping the married couple sue wedding vendors that fail to perform as promised.
We offer Free Consultations and represent clients across Maryland.
Wedding Photographer Breach of Contract and Negligence
Things have not gone well if you are asking the question, can I sue my wedding photographer? Problems with the photographer get serious, quickly, because unique moments cannot be recreated and wedding photographs carry heavy emotional weight. Wedding photographers can be sued for negligence and breach of contract, among other claims. These lawsuits are often based on:
- Failing to take professional photographs,
- Not taking all of the photographs they agreed to take,
- Failing to provide the final photographs by the agreed upon date,
- Failing to provide any photographs;
- The wedding photographer deleted or destroyed the photographs, and
- Not showing up to the wedding.
Lawsuit Filed Against Wedding Photographer
In 2021, Whitney, LLP’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against a Maryland wedding photographer after she failed to provide all of the promised photographs within 12 weeks after the wedding as required by the contract that was signed.
After the wedding, instead of providing the photographs, the wedding photographer began to make numerous excuses, repeatedly claimed that the photographs would be provided and then failed to do so, claimed she was unable to upload the photographs from the device they were stored on, and other excuses.
The only photographs that were ultimately provided were months late and on a USB drive, instead of in the special wedding photography book that had been promised. To the bride and groom’s horror, the USB drive did not include many important moments including the first look, family shots, the first kiss, wedding reception photographs, and other special, once-in-a-lifetime moments.
After six months passed and having only receiving excuses instead of the agreed upon photographs, the bride and groom hired Whitney, LLP to file a lawsuit against the photographer.
The lawsuit alleged negligence, breach of contract and violation of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit seeks to require the photographer to produce all photographs that were taken as well as compensation for economic loss and emotional distress.
Wedding Vendor Venue Problems
One of the most important decisions is where the wedding reception will be held. Maryland has numerous beautiful venues, including in Baltimore, Annapolis, Laurel, Taneytown, Havre de Grace, Bethesda, St. Michaels, Ocean City, Rockville, Frederick, National Harbor, Deep Creek and along the Chespeake and Eastern Shore.
The popular wedding website The Knot has extensively covered the issue of how and what to look for in a wedding venue. Wedding venues are often booked over a year in advance. Non-refundable wedding deposits are usually required. Many disputes arise over venue wedding deposits that are not returned when the location becomes unavailable, or when the venue is not adequately prepared on the day of the reception.
“Can I sue the wedding venue” is a common question when things go wrong. The answer is yes, and there are a number of common reasons why venues fail to deliver on agreed upon terms.
Problems with the wedding reception venue often include:
- The venue is double booked;
- The venue keeps the deposit after canceling;
- The venue goes out of business or declares bankruptcy and keeps the deposit; and
- Last minute claims that zoning or other problems will not allow the wedding to proceed, or the hours now are limited.
A legitimate venue will usually provide good lighting, a dancing area, dinner tables and will allow for music to be played loudly. Issues arise when last minute changes prevent the wedding party and their guests to celebrate as planned. Last minute venue changes usually result in a detriment to the married couple and their guests, resulting in frustration and tears.
Amateur wedding venues often hold themselves out as being available to host weddings. These venues can include estates, farms, large houses and other non-traditional locations. Risks of these locations include last minute cancellations and excuses. In 2017, a Frederick, Maryland venue was sued over allegations of taking deposits without having the proper permits to operate.
A lawsuit was filed in 2022 seeking five million dollars arising out a venue’s failure to inform the married couple that recent noise restrictions prevented the DJ from playing music as promised. The DJ refused to play, and the venue moved the wedding party into a cramped, smaller room that was not what had been agreed to.
Last Minute Venue Changes
Venue problems often occur when there is a cancelation of the venue but the venue keeps the money. Bankruptcy, claims that zoning will not allow the wedding to proceed, or that neighbors of the venue have taken legal action to prohibit events from being held, are common excuses given when deposits are not returned.
Other venue problems occur when a the contract reserved a specific part of the venue, such as Ballroom A, but the wedding reception is changed to a different location at the last minute. Legal claims against weddings vendors often arise involving the venue.
Damages from Venue Changes
When a venue owner or manager breaches the contract, or is negligent or fraudulent, damages can include economic damages including the return of the deposit and related costs, as well as emotional distress and potentially punitive damages.
If the venue claims it has gone out of business but will not refund a deposit, claims may be available against the owners or managers of the venue if they were personally involved in the wedding scam.
Wedding Caterer Problems
Food and alcohol are often considered the second most important part of the wedding celebration after the marriage itself. Problems with the wedding caterer can cause last minute issues that are very hard to fix. If you want to sue the wedding caterer, something has gone wrong that likely impacted a number of guests and was far different than what the contractual expectations were.
Common problems with the Wedding Caterer can include:
- Not having enough food;
- Food poisoning;
- Not having the agreed upon food/menu;
- Cold food;
- Running out of alcohol;
- Not showing up; and
- Not enough waiters or unprofessional waiters.
In an extreme case, a lawsuit was filed against a wedding caterer alleging that over 100 guests got food poisoning.
Wedding Caterer Breach of Contract
The contract with the wedding caterer should set forth the price, amount of food, the types of food, how many appetizers and what they are, the main courses, and other important terms. A breach of contract occurs when these terms are not met.
An overbooked wedding caterer may be forced to hire last-minute, inexperienced waiters, or inexperienced chefs, not provide enough food stations, or may run out of food or not provide the agreed-upon menu items. All of these problems may constitute a breach of contact for which damages can be sought.
Problems with the Wedding Band or DJ
Music is essential to a wedding. When the selected band does not show up, or the DJ cancels on the wedding at the last minute, there is a serious problem.
Often when a band or DJ cancels, they try to make up for it by providing a substitute act or DJ. The problem with a substitute is that if the contract did not agree for a substitute to be provided, then that is a breach of contract, and damages may be recovered.
Wedding Florist Breach of Contract
Many weddings include beautiful floral arrangements and custom pieces for the wedding party. These floral arrangements are often expensive and are designed to match the colors of the wedding. Last minute substitutions and failing to deliver the agreed upon arrangements is often a breach of contract due to a florists failure to plan appropriately.
Complaints Against Wedding Vendors
Complaints against wedding vendors can be made without the use of an attorney. Leaving an online review to warn others is one avenue, as is making a report to the BBB. In cases where money is paid and services are not rendered, such as a scam, making a complaint to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, may be helpful.
However, we have found that it often takes legal action to have wedding vendors take complaints seriously.
Contracts for Wedding Planning
One way to set the correct expectations and requirements for the big day is to use a comprehensive and clearly written contract with each wedding vendor. A good contract can help avoid lawsuits against wedding vendors. If you do have to sue a wedding vendor, a good contract can help you to be successful. Wedding Wire posted a good article about how to deal with issues with wedding vendors, including setting expectations.
A contract should be signed for all services that will be provided at the wedding. The contract will state the amount of any deposit, whether the deposit is non-refundable or not, a description of the services that are to be provided, a timeline performance, the date of the event, and all other important terms.
It is extremely important for the contract to be carefully reviewed to make sure that what is being promised in a conversation is actually what is being paid for and will be provided. Differences and problems can arise when a conversation creates high expectations, but the actual performance is much less, and the contract does not reflect what was promised in the conversation.
When a breach of contract occurs with a wedding provider, damages can include economic damages. The same claims that give rise to a breach of contract can often lead to other claims, including negligence and violations of the consumer protection act.
In addition to economic damages, damages in cases involving wedding vendors can include compensation for emotional distress and potentially punitive damages in extreme situations, such as a wedding photographer deleting photographs intentionally or a vendor taking intentional or fraudulent actions to the detriment of the married couple.
How to Sue a Wedding Vendor – Whitney, LLP
When any of these wedding problems arise, a good first step is to try and resolve the matter with the wedding vendor that breached the contract or otherwise failed to perform. However, in our experience, if a vendor breached the contract and did not perform as expected on the big day, they are unlikely to be reasonable afterwards when it comes to making compensation for what they did, or did not, do.
Whitney, LLP’s attorneys have experience bringing lawsuits and seeking damages and compensation against wedding vendors in Maryland.
We offer Free Consultations and represent clients across Maryland.