GARDNER, Mass. – COVID-19 has been catastrophic for the wedding industry. More than a year after the pandemic started, receptions are still being canceled and postponed due to capacity constraints.
As 25 investigators found, some wedding venues offer full refunds while others continue to enforce pre-pandemic contracts.
Alicia and Steven Gadman have nothing but good things to say about their wedding, an intimate celebration that took place on a snowy December night during the pandemic.
It was a long way from the wedding planned.
“It was quaint and beautiful,” Alicia told 25 Investigates.
The couple initially planned a much bigger affair at the Colonial Hotel in Gardner in November.
“We have always been optimistic. I said, “We’re going to have this wedding in November. We’ll be fine, ”said Steve.
But the pandemic had other plans. At the time, Massachusetts COVID restrictions were strict – only 25 people could attend, no dance floor, drinks for your back, not from a bar.
The colonial era allowed Alicia and Steve to postpone the time, but they had to wait six weeks for couples with weddings ahead of them to select their new dates.
“They sent us a list of Thursday, Friday, and Sunday days in 2021, and the one-year period from our original date was already booked,” Alicia said
The couple had already deposited bail with the venue and when their dream wedding didn’t happen they tried to get a refund. But when the colonial powers refused to return their bail, the couple filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office.
“We lost $ 6,000. That’s not a bit of money, “Alicia said. “We’re trying to buy a house right now and that would go a long way.”
25 investigators found 19 similar complaints against the colonial power.
Documents show that Amy and Aaron Harrington had a wedding planner at the Colonial with 175 guests. When their wedding did not take place, they got married elsewhere.
“In March, when the pandemic was already on, we had to pay another $ 12,720, Amy said, adding that the colonial power still has its money.
“When they told us it could only be 25 people, the only option was to move the date. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant. So we couldn’t push our wedding for a year. We had a plan. “
A representative of the colonial era declined to speak on camera but answered all calls and emails from the 25 investigators. Nicole Moorshead, a general manager, said the hotel hosts 80 to 100 weddings a year and they tried to be as accommodating as possible through massive disruption.
The wedding director of the Colonial 25 Investigate announced by email that the hotel would offer anyone the opportunity to make a new appointment within one year at no extra charge.
She told 25 investigators that there was a process for selecting new data, saying:
“I thought it was only fair to be fine from the time they were married.”
Linnea Tangorra, a Newburyport wedding planner, said the industry is recovering but is still working on the challenges caused by the pandemic. She said she is still seeing cancellations due to current capacity constraints – 100 people inside and 150 outside.
“I think we’re all a little bit in limbo just making sure we’re still moving in the right direction,” said Tangorra.
She advises her customers to request COVID statements in contracts they sign with vendors to protect themselves from new restrictions or events beyond their control.
“I think in the past it wasn’t something that had never been heard of. But because we’ve all been through it and it has been so damaging to our industry and our couples, I think it’s a good idea to put something down in writing. “
If this is not an option, take the time to fully understand each supplier’s cancellation and rebooking policies. If someone has already signed contracts, keep in mind that vendors may tie someone to you. You may be able to fight it in court, but it costs time and money.
Alicia and Steve Gadman are planning a grand reception to celebrate their wedding. But it won’t be in the Colonial Hotel. The only thing they want from the venue is their money back.
“We come from two big Italian families who still really want to celebrate with us,” said Alicia. “It’s not the end of the world for us. But we want everyone to know that they are being smart about planning their wedding. “
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy said she was working to find a solution for any couples who turned to her office about the Colonial Hotel, but no solution was found. She advises couples to consult a private legal advisor.
Alicia and Steve say they took advice.