Wedding venue sticks to no refund policy despite pandemic

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:46 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Fairfax couple says they couldn’t get a refund after they paid more than $10,000 dollars for a wedding reception that cancelled because of COVID-19. Dylan and Mariah Henderson booked their wedding more than a year in advance never foreseeing a pandemic. They had plans to have a 400 person wedding, reserving both barns at The Celebration Farm in Iowa City.

“The day the governor talked and made it 15 we were like this is, no way we could hold a 400 person wedding what we wanted, to 15.” Mariah told us.

They chose to cancel the wedding hoping for flexibility from the venue considering the restrictions in place.

“Our contract’s clear that we don’t have refunds,” Pam Cavey told us, Director of Operations & Guest Experience at The Celebration Farm.

Cavey says they’ve already worked to reschedule more than 70 events this year and things have been tough.

“We’re going to have 70 events next year that don’t have any income coming in because they’ve used two dates which is the right thing to do but it’s also a difficult thing to do financially,” she told us.

The couple went ahead and booked a date to have a reception at the venue next year, they say it was that or lose the money for nothing.

”We took it because we felt almost like we didn’t have a choice,” Dylan says.

The venue says they are giving the couple $3,000 worth of extras such a linins and place settings for their date next year, as well as a full day to set up. However they will only get one of the two barns they originally booked.

“I am very compassionate and I work very hard to get people’s events moved and to something that they want,” Cavey says.

The Henderson’s went ahead and got married last weekend at a separate location in a small ceremony with family, but if they decide to not have a second wedding event, they’ll lose $10,000.

“We felt like we have been taken advantage of because of COVID and we paid a lot of money to get married there because we really did like the venue and we wanted the whole experience and we just kind of feel like that has been robbed from us,” Dylan told us.

We also heard from another bride who had booked with the venue. Maddie Ebeling of Des Moines says she’s out more than $7,000 from cancelling during the pandemic.

“What really frustrated me is they don’t, they won’t offer any kind of refund,” she says.

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