Right off the bat: this post has no "referral links" to any insurance provider. This post is simply intended to explain why engaged couples should strongly consider wedding insurance, based on a series of recent and unfortunate real-life events here in Central New York.
To reiterate my disclosure: I am not affiliated with any insurance company. Nobody paid me to write this post. There are no "referral links" where I get a cut if you buy a wedding insurance policy.
I'm just here to provide advice, based on facts, because I care about my wedding DJ clients and I don't want to see their wedding day ruined by any number of potential issues beyond their control.
"We Never Thought It Would Happen to Us"
Consider these 7 headlines which impacted many couples here in Central New York, and in one case, nationally:
- January 2019: Justin's Grill to close after 18 years at Carrier Circle
- December 2018: After 70 years, The Beeches in Rome to close
- October 2018: Hinerwadel's in North Syracuse to close after 104 years hosting clambakes
- July 2018: Wedding nightmare - CNY bride sues caterer after 100 guests violently ill at reception
- August 2017: Tornado destroys Waterville wedding venue, leaving couples scrambling to find new venues -- including one of my own couples!
- July 2017: National wedding dress retailer Alfred Angelo Bridal declares bankruptcy, goes out of business
- February 2014: Caz Limo abruptly closes due to "financial situation"
And those are just cases of established wedding vendors suddenly going out of business. I recently found a list of the top 5 reasons people needed to file wedding insurance claims in 2018:
- Cancellations & Postponements (40%) - Reasons include extreme weather (see the tornado story above), serious illness/injury/death in the family, moving away due to work or a military deployment, broken engagements and so forth. Without insurance, you could lose some or all the money you (or your parents) had already paid to your wedding vendors.
- Property Damage (21%) - Anything's possible when dozens of people enjoy a night of open bar service. Most wedding vendor contracts make you personally responsible for any property damage caused by you -- or your guests.
- Injuries (18%) - Nobody ever expects them, but they happen. A wedding party member stumbles out of the SUV limo and sprains their ankle. Or one guest drops a glass, which is then stepped on by another. This one's especially important if you're getting married at a non-traditional venue (like a public park or a private residence) where there may
- Vendor Issues (15%) - See the 7 examples above. "Open one day, closed the next" can happen to any business. There have also been cases of vendors took payment but failed to appear at the wedding. Or photographers who promised photos in 2 months, but you never got anything and 4 months later, they're no longer returning calls. With insurance, you may be able to get your money back right away, and let the insurance company take on the hassle of chasing down the vendor.
- Theft, Damage and "Other" (6%) - Personal belongings and gifts can be easy targets for thieves if you aren't careful. Insurance may cover replacements for stolen items.
And remember, those stats were from 2018, two years before COVID-19 became a concern. When the pandemic triggered New York State to temporarily halt or restrict mass gatherings, many couples with 2020 weddings found themselves in varying degrees of disarray, trying to figure out how (and when) they would be able to proceed.
More than Just What You Paid
Let's say your wedding venue suddenly goes out of business. If they're bankrupt, they likely won't have money to refund you... and try as you might, you can't squeeze blood from a stone. (Just ask anyone who never got their dresses from Alfred Angelo.)
Even if a business does refund every cent you've paid them, you still might wind up with additional costs you hadn't expected. Consider this:
- The value of your own time, having to drop everything else and look for a replacement venue. You may have very limited choices for available venues, especially if you have fewer than 6 months until your wedding.
- If the new venue is smaller than the original venue, you may need to trim your guest list.
- If the new venue costs more than the original, you'll need to decide: increase the budget? Trim the guest list? Any other extras (fancy linens, chair covers, etc.) that you could cut out?
- If the new venue is considerably farther away from the original, certain vendors (photographer, DJ, florist, cake, etc.) might charge more for the longer drive time. Get in touch with them ASAP to find out.
- Out-of-town guests who booked hotel rooms near the original venue might need to revise their own plans.
- If you already had invitations printed and mailed, now you have to pay for another mailing, to notify everyone of the new location.
That's assuming you find a venue that's available on the same date you originally booked. If you're forced to pick a new date, get ready for more headaches and costs:
- Retainers, deposits or down payments with many wedding vendors are usually attached to a specific date, and those payments often aren't transferable to other dates. Review your contracts carefully.
- If any of your vendors are already booked elsewhere for your new date, you'll need to replace them as well.
- Again, if your invitations (or "save the date" notices) already went out, you need to notify everyone of the new plans.
- Some guests who were able to RSVP "yes" to the original date might not be able to make it for the new date, and vice versa.
- Out-of-town guests will need to change flights, rental car and hotel reservations, and so forth.
Wedding insurance won't save you the hassle of having to find new vendors or notify your guests. But it can help with the extra costs that can arise when you relocate or reschedule your wedding.
To their credit, if you didn't read the story linked above, The Beeches in Rome refunded couples and paid-off vendor balances. Hats off to them for taking care of everyone affected by their closing -- that's extremely rare. But still, these couples might have had to pay more than their original wedding budget to relocate their weddings.
Hopefully you'll never "need" your wedding insurance. But it's easy to see how just one hiccup can wind up saving you more than you paid for the policy. Or to put it another way, consider how NOT having a policy can wind up costing you more than if you bought one.
I'm no insurance expert so I can't provide specifics, but shop around. You'll find that costs will vary depending on how much coverage you want, and exactly what you want covered. But at least you won't have to have that "what if (insert potential problem)" stress constantly tugging at the back of your mind throughout your wedding planning!