Who is responsible for the cash on the line at some wedding venues during the pandemic?


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Limits on crowd sizes during the COVID pandemic is causing widespread confusion, especially when it comes to weddings.

Who is liable for the costs when a church of banquet hall is not allowed to accommodate all the guests?

That is a tough question to answer, especially when the courts can’t seem to agree on crowd size. One court says 50% of a venue’s capacity, while an appellate court ruled, no, it is 50 people.

If the venue is barred from making those accommodations, is the wedding party still responsible to pay?

That was Joe and Allysa Grzybowski’s dilemma when they learned the Avanti Mansion would not be allowed to accommodate the 200-plus guests they were expecting for their wedding.

“They just said at the time, all we can guarantee is 50 people, and when we have a guest list where we invited 250, it just wasn’t enough,” Joe said.

So Joe and Allysa arranged to hold the wedding at a relative’s property over the weekend and it worked. But they also paid a lot of money to the Avanti for a venue they could not use.

Allysa says, “we put $1,000 down for the holding, and then $6,000 for another payment. So right now we are down $7,000.”

The Grzybowski’s would like to get some of their money back but they say, the Avanti Mansion’s owner is citing a “no refund” clause in their original contract and the ownership is refusing to return any of their money.

The Avanti acknowledges state law is murky when it comes to crowd sizes on their Facebook page but the owners insist “we will continue to advocate for you, our clients.”

“Well, the venue will have a hard time enforcing a ‘no refund’ policy when the venue itself is not performing its end of the contract.”

Attorney Barry Covert told us, in this kind of situation it is not the Grzybowski’s who backed out of the deal it is the Avanti Mansion which is precluded by state mandate–at least right now–from accomodating the 200-plus guests it was contracted to serve and the owners should be the ones to fess up.

“There should be a compromise here where the venue would be able to show that they have expended some money towards the event, but they certainly have not paid for the food, they have not prepared the food. They haven’t paid for the staff for the wedding,” Covert said.

We checked with a number of wedding-related businesses who told us, they are issuing refunds due to the state’s COVID lockdown.

We also received a number of complaints about the Avanti, but when we reached out, our phone call was disconnected and our calls have not been returned.

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