Force Majeure

While the children in my neighborhood enjoyed playing in this weekend’s snowstorm, I immediately thought of all of local planners that had to manage a wedding or event in all of this weather.

They either went through with the wedding or event or they sat down with the venue and vendors to discuss the Force Majeure clause in their agreement.

So what’s a Force Majeure clause?

A Force Majeure (French for Superior Force) clause is a standard contract clause found in wedding venue and many wedding vendor contracts.  It basically exempts both parties from being required to carry out the contract because of circumstances that could not be anticipated and/or are beyond their control.

The primary circumstance noted in a Force Majeure clause is an Act of God.  Acts of God are natural consequences such as Blizzards, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes or Landslides.

Something to note: The Act of God should also include a “credible threat.”  As gut wrenching as it may be for a couple, most venues and vendors don’t typically want to wait until the very last minute to make a decision regarding a cancellation.

Now, here’s the deal, force majeure does not cover the “usual” natural consequences of external forces.  This means that you cannot cancel your outdoor wedding just because it rains.  You are expected to have a plan B.

Force Majeure clauses should be much bigger than an Act of God clause.  It should include a lot of the other occurrences that could affect your wedding day.

Act of War – Including the term, “act of war” could be of great assistance if you have to revise your wedding date because the bride or groom is being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Act of Terrorism –Unfortunately, many brides were all too familiar with this section of a Force Majeure clause in 2001.  But, this didn’t just cover the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001.  I managed a children’s event that was canceled in 2002 because residents of DC were being terrorized by the Sniper.

Act of Government – What if your destination wedding location suddenly fell on the Department of State’s list of locations with a Travel AdvisoryFor the safety of your guests (and you), you are inclined to cancel.  This clause would assist you if something like this should occur.

Civil Disturbances – An example of this is a riot.  Unfortunately, they do happen.

Work Stoppage – Employee strikes.  This could definitely affect the service you receive because adequate staff will not be available.  And, this could affect your guest count — especially if most of your wedding guests won’t cross a picket line.

Read through your contracts before you sign to ensure you are protected.  If you have already signed your contracts, have a conversation with your salesperson to ensure they share the same philosophy regarding Force Majeure.  Most likely they will since this contract protects both parties.

Love & Soul Always, Kawania



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