Ask Clark: Should I Cancel an Upcoming Big Event Right Now?


It’s no understatement to say that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt the U.S. economy a major blow. Not only has big business been affected, but the plans and events of many Americans have, too.

During this trying time, money expert Clark Howard has been answering your financial questions so that you can mind your money.

One question he continues to get is this: Should I cancel my upcoming big event right now?

Should You Cancel Your Upcoming Event?

Since there are no uniform rules governing how customers can be compensated if they’ve already put down a deposit or paid upfront for an event affected by the pandemic, Clark says these things are sort of like the Wild West right now.

It’s “completely ad hoc — up to each vendor on how they’re handling this,” he says.

But here are some hard, cold facts:

“If a vendor will not release the funds, you can’t make them give the money back. You can’t make them say, ‘OK, I’ll do your wedding later with the money you’ve already paid,'” Clark says.

The following advice from Clark applies to many sectors, but let’s focus on just two of them: the wedding industry and venue spaces.

Wedding Businesses

Clark says the problem with trying to get a refund from a wedding-related business right now is that the money is likely no longer there.

“A lot of people in the wedding business have already spent the money you paid them in advance for the arrangements and portion of your wedding that they’re doing,” he says.

If you’re expecting a refund from them, the bottom line is that “there likely isn’t any cash sitting around for them suddenly to write you a check.”



When it comes to venues, the same money issue arises, but even more so.

“Venues are totally tapped out because venues live on current revenue,” he says. Plus, there simply aren’t any bookings right now.

Even if a venue wanted to pay you back a deposit, in a huge number of cases “they don’t have the money to give back right now,” Clark says.

Here’s What You Should Do

To protect yourself, Clark says you need to make sure you communicate to the venue space or wedding business that you don’t plan to cancel, but you do want to postpone your event.

Give them a call and:

  • Negotiate a plan to reschedule your event
  • Ask the vendor: “What’s the policy for rolling the value forward?”

The point is that you want them to honor your agreement, along with any adjustments you need. Meanwhile, they can be confident that they still have your business.

Once you tweak the terms, you may come out of the deal with more than you originally entered into it with.

But no matter what: Make sure you get any new agreement in writing.

While we can’t currently accept phone calls to our Consumer Action Center helpline, we can still answer your money questions! Visit to submit your question and a Consumer Action Center volunteer will call you as soon as possible.

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