Monday, May 23, 2011

Contract Talk-- How Do You Handle Cancellations?

So far this year I've had three brides completely cancel their weddings, one reschedule due to health concerns, and one cancel without bothering to get in contact. That's an unusually high rate, but I've heard from other businesses that they're experiencing the same thing recently.

My contract is pretty detailed as far as cancellations go because I've been doing this for 12 years and I've seen a lot of different cancellation scenarios.

The initial deposit is non-refundable. That's the topic for another post, but there are good reasons why that's not a refundable fee.

If a bride cancels I have an entire schedule of what's refundable and what isn't based on how far ahead of time the cancellation takes place. Depending on whether it's two months or two days out, it's detailed in there.

I also put a clause in that allows me to make exceptions if I want to, depending on the situation. If a bride cancels or reschedules for health reasons, for instance, I will usually make an exception. No need to be a creep about it.

Regardless of how you decide to handle cancellations, you need to have a policy in place that explains it to the client. Better to have it in writing before you need it than to not have it and find out that you do.

What policies do you have that cover cancellations? Leave your comment below to share the info.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Jennywenny said...

I'm dreading this. I can imagine people getting really upset when they realize that they've given a non-refundable deposit, even if they've signed a contract which specifically states that.

Kara said...

I've never had anyone get really upset about losing the deposit, but I think that most people know that their deposits are generally non-refundable regardless of what type of business they're hiring.

I only collect $100 as the initial deposit, too, so that way I'm not hanging on to a lot of money before the cake is done, and if the order is cancelled it's not like the client is out that much overall.

SweetThingsTO said...

I've been lucky but haven't had any wedding cancellations, but I have had a few smaller orders. It mostly depends on the timeframe or reason, but most of the time I've given the non-refundable deposit back as I am able to replace their order. However, I do specifically state in the contract that the deposit is non-refundable, but it can be applied to a future order. I found that sounds a bit more friendly.

Kara said...

I'd rather return the deposit than try to keep track of who has money on hold. That's just me, and me not having the mental energy to track that kind of thing! I used to let people apply the deposit to future orders, but when I realized that I the time that I spent on paperwork, tastings, refusing other business etc. were being covered by the deposit, I stopped doing it. I'll still return deposits if the situation warrants it, but it totally is a case-by-case thing.