Wedding Plans Funeral Plans

No one plans life like this.

A couple of years ago I met a young couple with a very young child.   They were planning their wedding when I met them and it was still a year or so away.  They were already paying for the wedding.  They worked very hard to have the wedding they wanted and to make their special  day perfect.  And it didn’t come cheap.

Seven days before their wedding the groom to be unexpectedly passed away due to an unknown health condition.  Leaving his wife-to-be and very young child shaken and grieving.

Family and friends shocked and grieving.

In the process of planning a funeral the bride-to-be had to un-plan her wedding.   The day after what would have been her wedding she stood by her husband’s casket.

In the weeks that followed she had to go through the process of un-doing all that she and her husband-to-be had done.

The tuxedo rentals were refunded.

The flowers were refunded.

The photographer has spent these past couple of years taking photographs of her and her child and is compiling an on going and growing book of her and her child for the monies paid.

Refunds and compromises were offered and given to the family whenever possible.

The dress was not returnable, understandably, it was made specifically for her.

The venue for the wedding reception had a contract that stated any cancellations had to be made ten days prior to the date of the arranged event.  The groom died seven days before, and the venue was notified on the day of his death.   There was still some monies owed to them.  But the bulk of the thousands owed was paid.  The contract stated that due to events such as tornadoes and blizzards -down payments and monies paid would not be refunded.  No where in the contract did it mention death.

The amount paid to the venue for the reception was in the tens of thousands.   Only a small percent was left owed.   She had asked if she would receive any of the money back.  They told her no.  She would  not.  She has tried to get money back.  She retained an attorney.  She is not suing.  She does not want to sue.  She felt like she did not break the contract.  The circumstances were obviously beyond her control.   They retained an attorney.   Even their attorney suggested they return a portion of the money.  They refused.

Considering the circumstances her support system, family and friends, feel she is being unfairly treated by the venue.  Some suggested she contact local news agencies.   Local news agencies said because she is  not suing it would not be news worthy.

I can’t help but think this is bad business sense on the part of the venue.  If this were to be made public knowledge I think it would leave a sour taste in at least some people’s opinion.   I know it is not a place I would want to do business with.  I think others would feel the same.

Ethically do they owe the woman any portion of that money?  If the contract said “ten days” and he passed seven days prior to the scheduled event,  that is technically covered by the contract.  I guess.  Technically.  But ethically?  Morally?    Though it wasn’t “canceled”.  A man died.  And the contract covers natural disasters pertaining to weather, but not natural disasters pertaining to a man’s death.

Does this business feel it is right to pocket all of the monies paid for a service that was not provided, at all?  They did not do any set up.  They did not do any flowers or other arranging.   If they did any foods that far in advance it would have had to of been frozen and could have been used for another  party.  Or  if they were to argue they had it made, they could have/should have offered it  to them in some manner, maybe even for the funeral.  No such offers were made.  For that matter, no offers of condolences were ever made.

It is understood that on such short notice the venue may not have been able to be rented out.  And the woman who is not suing is not asking for all monies to be refunded.  She is only asking for a portion.  And they have refused at every request.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a poor business decision?

Does it seem ethically or morally wrong to keep all of the money in this situation?

Is it ethically, morally, or even business wise to keep the money just because business is business and there is nothing wrong with them keeping the money?  After all, it’s not their fault this man died.

My personal opinion…there’s nothing gained by showing no compassion whatsoever.  I wouldn’t want to do business, personally or professionally, with anyone who had no regards for the heart break in this story.

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84 thoughts on “Wedding Plans Funeral Plans

  1. Instant karmas gonna get them

  2. markbialczak says:

    The owners of this business have no heart and no soul, Colleen. Karma will rear up someday and strike them in their one true belief: the bank book.

    • You would think Mark. I’m sure they would put a different spin on this story. But I don’t know what it would be. I mean the facts are pretty basic. The man died, beyond anyone’s control. It was a horrific event for the family. Something unpredicted, undiagnosed. In addition to all of this, I am stunned that there was no extending of condolences, at all. Maybe that’s not required of a business. But it’s kind of expected in humanity.

  3. I think she needs to write a letter to the editor/s of her local newspaper/s and spread the word about this business. She deserves to get most of that money back but probably not all of it.

  4. I don’t know why most monies were paid upfront. Usually you pay a deposit and the rest is due after the event, no? As far as the business goes I think their behaviour very unethical and someone should write a letter to the editor and call the better business bureau to file a complaint. Why doesn’t she sue? This makes me angry. My thoughts and prayers are with your friend.
    Diana xo

    • Thank you Diana. My experience with any rented venues has been money up front, or paid at the time of the event. So that doesn’t surprise me they had paid that much by the time of the event. Even she didn’t expect all of the money back. But was surprised when they refused any refund of any kind. Or to even talk to her. I just find it poor business sense and a very poor way to treat a grieving customer.

    • If I owned a venue, I would certainly expect everything to be paid no later than the start of the event. Once the folks have held their event, they have very little incentive to finish paying you.

  5. jmgoyder says:

    This is horrifying in every way.

  6. tric says:

    I’m surprised at the hard heartedness of this business. Usually smaller businesses understand and listen to these extraordinary events and take the correct decision. It’s the bigger ones which do not. Word of mouth will hopefully bring them to their senses and boycott.How very sad.
    I heard a heartbreaking story last year. A young Irish boy of 19 went to the US on a summer visa. He was cycling to work when he was knocked off his bike and has been in a coma since. His insurance would not pay up because he had no helmet on, it would have paid up if he was just cycling around, but because he had a temporary job and was on his way to work it wouldn’t (it was in the small print). His family have remortgaged their home to pay for him to come back to Ireland and are now facing losing their home as they are seriously in debt. In the meantime their son lies in a vegetative state.
    No heart. I just can’t understand it.

  7. Elisa says:

    I completely understand what everyone is saying. Contracts are made so that no person or entity has to be placed in a position to give to one client and not to another. In such a case then they would/could be sued all of the time. How many weddings cancelled use the death excuse, in order to gain back funds after a jilted bride or groom acts improperly? I do not think that even the death clause, with certificate presented, would work since, I think that you stated that not even natural disasters are covered. No one in their right mind would choose this venue from the event planning end, with a contract like that!

    There are no words that can be enough for me to offer my horror and upset over the losses that have occurred to this bride.

    I am sitting here puzzling about the potential flipside to this contract issue. A sale consists of many elements, one of which is service rendered. Perhaps, through the lawyer, so that bride doesn’t have to deal with it, the service rendered could be transferred to a new bride, with the bride paying your friend and not the venue. Though perhaps the ten day notice could be an issue.

    The bride might also use the venue and paid for services for a giant wake and protest, if enough persons would come.

    • This is now past being able to be transferred. Time wise I mean.

      You’re right, no service was rendered. And regarding the contract, she did not break it.

      Your words to describe it as a “horror” for this young woman were spot on right.

  8. inmycorner says:

    This post brought me to tears. How utterly tragic for this young family to suffer such great loss.

    Any business that cannot see through money to compassion is not a business – it is an illness.

    And no one wants to be sick.

    • You got that right Stacey.

      It’s one of those times I just feel….like I can’t do anything to really help. I was hoping that maybe because there was no condolences from this venue, and no sympathy, maybe there would be validation to her heartbreak (not that she needs it…because it is so very real) from others. Because to be told that what she went through wasn’t enough, we’ll just add insult to your injured heart to make it worse….

      I hoped maybe others understanding would help make ‘that’ injury feel less painful. Maybe it won’t help. But maybe it will.

  9. This is a sad, sad story. At the end of it, the bride to be has to suffer more? Not fair. Not ethical. Not wise. The venue should cough up. Word WILL get out sooner or later. Bad on them. 😦 👿

  10. So sorrowful in so many ways. Compassion is certainly called from my perspective.

  11. mewhoami says:

    Bad business. Contract terms or not, some things are just common sense. No one can prevent death. Morals and good character gains customers. The opposite loses them. If they would have returned the money, not only would it have helped the woman, but it would have also helped their business. They made a bad mistake keeping that money. I certainly wouldn’t go to them.

    • Great statement MeWhoAmI. Because right now, this story would have an entirely different feedback if I was writing about the generosity of a business who had done a kindness to the grieving family. And people do love to hear these things.

  12. I’m equally confused about the news station not covering the story because she’s not suing. The injustice is the story. She doesn’t have to sue to make it into a newsworthy story. They put all sorts of sensational stuff on the evening news – this would fit right in.

    I can understand the venue keeping some money since they weren’t able to book something else. But to keep all of it is just bad taste. I don’t know for sure if I’d call it unethical, but it’s certainly immoral. If they are Christians, they should consider their call to “care for the widows and orphans”. And even if they aren’t, they should feel some basic human compassion for the woman’s plight.

    Although I think Mark up there might be on to something. It could be a corporation that isn’t responsive to the locals. But if that were the case, I’d expect the local person to say, “Look, I really feel for you but corporate simply won’t let me refund money outside of the contract.” I’d expect them to do *something* to show they feel for the woman and explain why they can’t help.

    • Thank you MyBrightSpots. It is not a corporation.

      I appreciate your thoughtful response. Like you, I would have expected some kind of response. And like you I would have expected them to keep some of the money. They probably could not have rented out the venue in that short a time. I would be curious to know if the servers (etc) were paid anyway for something they did not end up having to work. But to provide absolutely no service and keep all of the money seems extremely cold. And a very poor business decision, especially if the word does get out.

  13. Gibber says:

    How terribly sad all around. I wish you could name the business.

    • It is sad isn’t it.

      Well, of course I got her permission to tell the general story. But it’s not my story to tell the name of the place. If she went public with it then that would be different. But she is still making decisions so I will leave that up to her. I just hope this and the feedback it may generate gives her some emotional support.

      • Gibber says:

        I hope that she does feel supported. I just said that cause social media is big. I know it’s up to her.

        • She shared it in another format and is getting TREMENDOUS support. THAT makes me very happy I wrote it. 🙂

          • Gibber says:

            Wonderful!! I was telling Mr. Gibber about this and he said that the very least they could have done (Aside from nothing) is provide the food for the funeral. They owe her at least that since she paid. It’s just so sad. Why can’t people just be good to each other.

            • I know. And this happened a while ago. It has been going on for some time. I would think when it happened, if part of their argument was that they had put money in to the food (and I don’t even know if that is what they said, that’s just something I was wondering about) they should have offered it for the funeral, or even just given it to them since they kept all the money). You’re right. Why CAN’T we all be good to one another. Thank you, AND Mr. Gibber, for the support.

  14. reocochran says:

    This is horrible, so unconscionable, Colleen! What about Six on Our Side? Sometimes they take things on, even when there is not a lawsuit! I agree with your words and description of the circumstances, ethically and morally this is outrageous! I am surprised that the lawyer for her has not tried harder, since this is the future for her child and herself, which is not the fault of the venue, but certainly they should realize that contracts and life are not always ‘lined up neat’ and this was out of her control. Refunds should be considered good policy for death. Glad some of the other purchases (other than the dress) were returned and the photographer is doing his part to build a special memory for the mother and child.
    Wow! This story made me get teary eyed for the poor young ‘bride to be,’ losing the love and father of her baby.. .

    • I’m not sure what news organizations were contacted Robin. I do appreciate what the other businesses did with/for her. It seems the others did what they could to accommodate and or help her. There was understanding and condolences. I don’t know what she is going to do right now. I just hope this helps her feel supported. That yeah, it was crappy of them to do this to her. And maybe that will help in some way.

  15. Wow, Colleen, this is awful. I hope that someone quietly contacts the local news about this. And for the venue to no even express sorrow for her loss. It’s criminal. Hope you and David are well.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  16. Peggi says:

    Hmmm. I wonder what the venue would think if she kept the date – since she paid for it and everything – but instead of having a wedding, she had a funeral and/or memorial service. Depending on the venue, this looming possibility might wedge them out of their unsympathetic stance.

    • Hi Peggi. Thank you. Sadly this is at the tail end of the process of this. This tragedy was over a year ago, possibly going on 2 years now I believe. But it would have been a nice offering at the time. It wasn’t offered. It just seems that there could have been more effort made in the condolences and sympathy.

  17. Patty B says:

    Just another example of evil in this world – how sad that they are not willing to help this woman out. The best offer would have been to refund all except the hall, like you stated they may not have been able to rent it out, which is understandable. My heart goes out to that woman and the child.

    • Mine too Patty. I do understand not refunding all of the funds. I don’t understand the lack of compassion or sympathy. It just seems like another layer of suffering on top losing her husband.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Does she know whether the place where reception was was used for something else on the day of her wedding? If so the place would not have lost any money. Just a thought.

  19. April says:

    This made me sad. Sad for the bride to be and child. Also sad for such a cold-hearted business. I would place the banners everywhere about their practices.

    • It still makes me sad April. I don’t even want the business to do bad, I want them to see how it impacted this person and see how they could have had such a positive impact in a better way on someone. They really missed an opportunity here. To make a different impression, impact, on someone’s life.

  20. venue says:

    From the venue:

    The facts in this blog are completely false. We have documentation from both of the lawyers that prove that. The bride booked her wedding over 2 years ago. After the wedding date the bride asked for a full refund of all money paid. She was reminded that the contract stipulates no refunds, but due to the unusual circumstances we would refund half of her deposits paid, which totaled $3,850.00. The balance had already been spent on food, linens, setup, preparation of the event, etc. This offer was refused by the bride. She proceeded to try to recover the entire amount through her lawyer and refused to discuss any further reasonable offers. After investing 2 years of time effort and money trying to settle this matter it was decided to remove all offers. Soon after her lawyer informed her that we would not be making any other offers, this internet campaign was started with relatives and friends, who are obviously misinformed about our previous offers, in an effort to slander us and distort and destroy our reputation.
    It is a shame that social media can be used to try to destroy others without any personal consequences. We do have a responsibility to pay our employees stay open and support the business in a financially responsible manner. We must act in a manner which will allow us continue to provide excellent service to our current and future brides and other customers. They to have invested their hearts, time and money in us and their future plans.

    We sincerely appreciate the bride and her families loss and regret that she could not come to a mutually accepted settlement. Although we have just recently closed this matter with the lawyers and have no legal obligation to do so, as always,we would sill be willing to discuss this matter rationally and calmly with the bride.

    • Venue, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I also appreciate you saying you are willing to discuss this with the bride further. I have to say that when I wrote this I had no idea who you were, and only recently discovered your name. I have no intention of saying who you are. I became closer to the bride-to-be after this tragedy due to family connections. This ‘story’ is the story as I know it, and as I react to the tragedy of it. I won’t further discuss or debate the ‘facts’ of the story because I know that there are two sides. I do have information from “this” side that is obviously different than your side. Out of respect for the bride-to-be and her deceased partner I will not use this format to share any of this information. From what you are saying here, you are willing to discuss this further with her. Your comment makes it sound like you have sympathy and compassion for the bride and I hope that this means you will be reaching out to her. The truth is, this was a tragic event and you are the only party who has the ability to bring any closure to this situation for this young woman. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      she talked to you the day after the groom died. Which was a week before the wedding. She talked to you about a refund well before the wedding date. You took how long to properly respond anything? You even mentioned with her meeting face to face a loooooong time ago after a vacation that was taken (probably paid for by the deceased grooms hard earned paycheck) and you never contacted her lawyer to make such a meeting. Before YOU try to defend yourself, maybe you should add in everything that has happened. And I know these facts because I am best friends with the bride and have been there for her and her son since her fiancé/sons father had passed away.

  21. Colleen, my heart goes out to this lovely young woman and her child. I can’t imagine her grief, it must be tremendously overwhelming for her.
    I just read what the venue said, and If as they say, they would still meet with the young lady and sort something out, maybe get some of the money refunded, it would help just a little.
    I don’t know any of the parties involved, but I do know what corporate America is. I also know that as a community, we are trying to hold on to decency and humanity and for those of us who try on a daily basis, this story hits deep. Just some sympathy, instead of combative writing and shutting down on this poor young girl, might have taken things on a different path in terms of giving her some peace of mind.

    • Thank you MediatingMummy. I appreciate this comment. I think it will be part of the help I had hoped for in garnering emotional support for this young mom. I agree with you that combative writing, here, is not going to help anyone. And that was not my intention. So I hope my comment to the venue did not encourage that. When I wrote this it was completely anonymous to the situation and not attached to the venue in any way. How it got attached to them is beyond me. I’m assuming, from what they wrote, that it is actually them. I really have no way of knowing. Also, from what they wrote, they imply they are willing to talk with the young woman. All I will say is, I hope that is what they do. It is within their power alone to make a difference and live you so eloquently state, give her some peace of mind.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is almost like renting a cabin or hotel room…or even a flight. None of them care if you can’t make your reservation, no service, just rental. Unless you pay for the cancellation for refund fee…they’ll keep all of it. It’s sad and heartbreaking but it happens everyday.

    • Sadly, I understand to some degree. I understand keeping some of the money. They would likely not have been able to rent out and prepare for as large an event in that short of a time frame of course. Keeping “a” deposit would have made sense. I hope they do what they imply they are willing to do in their comment, and reach out to talk to her.

  23. niaaeryn says:

    Extremely unethical as a death would technically count as an “act of God” unforseen sort of event. That said they can counter that their clause only pertains to weather or not having access tos said venue hence service could not be rendered.
    Personally, this is a “What the hell?” moment. It should be displayed on social media, Facebook, Twitter, publicly made known so other future brides to be can be warned as well. Absolutely ridiculous to not at least go half and half. I realize it is a business and they will lose some business on that day but clearly circumstances…may karma sort that one quickly.

    • You said it. It is a “what the hell” moment. Hopefully there will be some forward movement on the venue’s part to reach out. That’s what they can do for the young woman, and in the end, for themselves.

  24. Heartafire says:

    Sadly, in today’s environment, it is about money, business, and I understand that to a degree, but the most successful companies are the ones who leave leeway for compassion, in the end it will pay off for them. Very well written article Chatter.

    • Thank you Heart. I understand too, that money can’t be lost especially out private and/or small businesses. But your comment says it. The compassion would have paid off in dividends .

  25. lbeth1950 says:

    Ethically and morally they are wrong. I would feel ashamed of myself forever. No good will come of their behavior.

  26. So disheartening to have to battle with legal issues in times of grief. I have paid my own cremation in full.

  27. Mustang.Koji says:

    My guess is they don’t have the cash and the attorney is on retainer. Still, you have a tough question and I shall answer it like this: Here in SoCal, our roads are “over-carred”, meaning just too many cars. We have car pool lanes and numbered lanes, with #1 lane being to the left and #4 (or how ever many there are) to the far right. #1 is for those who dare attention from the CHP. #3 and #4 are for trucks and those pulling trailers. Frequently, there are Class 5 trucks in #2 going perhaps 60 mph, impeding traffic flow. BUT there are frequently drivers who insist on going 65 mph in the #1 lane. Traffic literally gets bottled up behind that driver going 65 mph. People get angry. But it is legal for that driver to drive 65 mph… But does that make it right?

    People these days ignore wrongs now unless it involves accusations of race (media BS). People have forgotten about Tiger Woods sex escapades and still watch golf. Actors die from drug overdoses but condone drug usage by immortalizing him/her.

    I don’t believe it will behoove her to go public unless she can play a race card.

    It is sad.

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