Q: Hi APW,
Restrictions are lifting in my area and I thought we were on track to have our 25 person wedding this summer without any (more) bumps in the road. That was until I tried to reach out to our venue.
When restrictions were lifted I wanted to confirm our plans going forward only to be met with silence from the venue. Now I’m starting to panic. (Everything is fully paid for and is non-refundable at this point) I’ve tried to call, email, and message on social media but still nothing. After planning what feels like one million iterations of the same event I’m sad, exhausted and frankly, kind of over it.
What can I do at this point? I don’t think I can handle rescheduling again and I’m trying to be as understanding as possible but feel like I’m at a loss. Any advice?
—Ghosted By My Venue
A: Dear Ghosted,
First of all, like I’ve said about one million times in the last year… I am so sorry. Truly. I get what you’re going through, I really do. I’ve found myself in tears three times in the last two days over my own pandemic wedding planning troubles. So, as a fellow engaged person, I see you.
Further, from a professional standpoint (and that of a wedding planner)… what is happening to you right now is not okay. No business should take your money, and make you sign a contract, and then ghost you. This is not Tinder, this is your wedding. We all know that COVID has been wildly difficult on all of us, especially small businesses, but non-communication is not a fair way to handle it.
I’m not sure exactly when your wedding is planned for, or when you emailed (and called, and messaged), but I can feel the anxiety you’re sitting in. It’s a little difficult for me to give a super clear response without more information, but let’s start with this action plan:
- Pause & breathe. I know it feels counterintuitive, but it’s just better for you.
- Research. Dig around online, think yelp, Instagram, etc. to find out if your venue is still open and functioning. Google your venue name and ‘wedding’ ‘2021’, and see if you find anyone else experiencing the same issues. This won’t cure anything, but it will help you understand how you should proceed.
- If You Live Close To Your Venue (or know Someone Who Does). Drive on over there during what should be open business hours. Try to put your patient pants on before you get there since the person you meet when you walk up is likely not the one you’re upset with.
Ask to speak with a manager, explain the situation, and I bet you’ll get closer to a resolution pretty quickly. No manager? More deep breaths. Ask when there will be a manager available, and plan to come back again then. In the meantime, leave your name/number to be handed off to that person. No one there? Maybe even bring paper and a pen, or a letter pre-written to drop in the mail or under a door with your contact info and a request to hear from someone ASAP. (And if you don’t live close but you have a trusted family member or friend that does, ask if they’ll drive over. Most of us are looking for a chance to do something constructive or helpful to others right now.)
- Don’t live close to your venue? Send another round or two of emails, leave another voicemail, and wait a few days.
- If, after exhausting all these options, you still have no answer… it’s time to get serious. My recommendation is to send a legal-sounding email. Try a subject line like: “___DATE___, Last Name, FINAL NOTICE” and then within the letter state that you will ‘obtain legal counsel’ if you don’t hear from them, and that you need a response by a certain date, or you’ll move forward with legal action.
- You’ll either get a response or… you won’t. If you don’t. your choices are to A. Call it a wash, and plan something different and lose your money. (Though given that we’re talking about a venue, not a bouquet, this is probably not going to be the right choice.) B. Actually seek legal assistance to file a legal claim against this business (and still plan something different for your summer wedding!).
I’ll wrap this up by saying two important things:
1. I am not a legal professional and my advice does not constitute legal advice, but I am a wedding professional, and this is what I would do, and
2. I am so so very sorry.
Wishing you the best, Ghosted.
APW, have you ever been ghosted by a venue or a vendor? What did you do? Do you have other thoughts to share with our friend, Ghosted? Put them in the comments. And if you have a wedding planning dilemma of your own, submit it right here.