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Are Wedding Venue Deposits Refundable?  

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Are Wedding Venue Deposits Refundable?  

As we all navigate our changing reality with the onset of COVID-19, this question has now become more relevant than ever before.  

Venues will typically require a deposit between 25% to 50% of the site fee or estimated charges when booking your wedding. If you need to cancel, here are the three possible scenarios you would face regarding your deposit:  


  1. If you cancel far enough out and the venue can re-book your date at the same price, then most venues will refund the deposit in full.   
  2. Based upon how far in advance you are canceling, a portion of your deposit might be refundable. Venue agreements will typically have a sliding scale of how much you might forfeit as you draw closer to the event date. 
  3. If you are within 90 days, or possibly even further out depending on the location, you will most likely lose your deposit if you cancel, and there might be additional charges.  At venues where they are booking 18-24 months in advance, each Saturday is a highly valued commodity. If you cancel and the site does not have time to re-book an event of equal value, they will keep your deposit, and you may have to pay additional charges if it is too close to the actual event date. If the cancelation occurs within 30 days or less, you will most likely lose the deposit and have to pay the entire site fee.  


So, it boils down to the venue’s ability to re-book the space at an equal or higher value. If the venue successfully re-books the date, they will likely refund the deposit. But if they can’t, then chances are high you will forfeit the deposit, and possibly the entire site fee.  


Here are some things to look for when reviewing your venue contract.  


Force majeure: 

A clause in a contract that excuses or delays a party’s performance, or permits cancellation of the agreement, without penalty, when it makes it dangerous to fulfill the contract.   


Quick Tip: Look for language like “including but not limited to,” “government mandate,” “government action,” or “trade restriction.”   


Impossibility and frustration of purpose: 

These sections are defined as an individual’s or a company’s inability to fulfill their responsibilities under the contract, thus being excused. The critical word here is impossible, meaning the government forbids events of this size, or the couple cannot get to the location due to flight cancellations. 

About the author: Milestone Events Group is Northern California’s most experienced Wine Country Wedding Experts & largest event management company providing site selection services to multiple locations throughout Sonoma County. Over the past 6 years Milestone has helped hundreds of couples simplify the venue selection process by providing clarity, predictability and ultimately confidence for clients who work with them to evaluate wineries, ranches, and other locations for their private events. 


After the venue selection process is complete, Milestone is also available to help produce events in a stress reduced and highly professional manner. 

Talk to the Experts

There are no “silly questions”. We know more about Wine Country wedding venues and planning than anyone. We can help you find a venue that matches both your vision and your budget.