FRESH MEADOWS, Queens (WABC) -- A couple had their dream wedding plans dashed by a tragic accident and financial woes that followed. And when their wedding venue wouldn't return their deposit, they turned to 7 On Your Side.
It was a wedding proposal that was a long time coming, but two kids later, it finally happened at the most magical place on earth -- Disney World.
"We were together 10 years," Nilasia Ware said. "He proposed in December. Our kids kept asking, when's it going to happen?"
The "he" is DeShaun Ware, and the couple set the date a year and a half in the future.
Deshaun was just getting his scrap haul business up and running as they made plans for the future together, but that excitement soon turned tragic.
In February, an ambulance ran a red light in front of Deshaun. He swerved, and the truck flipped.
Nilasia rushed to the ER with 8-year-old Zakyra her 2-year-old brother to find him pretty banged up with torn ligaments in his neck that required surgery. After four months out of work, DeShaun's business was gone, his new truck totaled.
But the couple still held out hope for their dream wedding.
Unfortunately, with wedding bills mounting every month, they had no choice but to cancel their wedding and try to recoup their deposits.
"It was whether a roof over your head or a wedding, and you have nowhere to live," Nilasia said. "So I had to cancel."
That was in August, and the couple's florist returned the deposit right away. But the wedding venue, which had been paid $1,500, said they'd have to wait almost a year to see if their date could be rebooked. The contract is clear -- couples only get a refund if the venue can re-book the date at the same or more money. Even then, the venue keeps $1,000 as damages.
After an eviction notice showed up at their apartment, Nilasia reached out to 7 On Your Side, so we contacted the venue. The owner sent a check for the full deposit of $1,500 within a week.
"Thanks to you guys," Nilasia said. "You called them, and they said right away they are refunding the money. Thank you 7 On Your Side."
The venue told us it never knew about the specifics of the couple's situation, though the couple says it was discussed over the phone. The big takeaway here is that you have to put your requests in writing. This couple didn't.
If they would've sent an appeal letter to the venue's owner -- including pictures of the accident and DeShaun lying in the hospital -- they may have gotten back their deposit on their own. Remember, documentation is better than conversation.
Here are 7 tips for dealing with wedding contracts:
1) When you review the contract, take note of the due date to submit a deposit and lock in your date. If you let it pass, you can miss out.
2) Make sure you get everything in writing. Don't assume you'll get that special floral arrangement or the fancy chairs you thought you talked about and agreed upon. Make sure it's typed out, right on the contract.
3) Pay attention to the payment terms. Many vendors from videographers to venues require a deposit and then installments over time. Avoid paying in full upfront, and try to pay using a credit card instead of cash.
4) Review the cancellation policy. Many vendors won't allow it, but some do. You'll usually have to do it in writing and by a certain date, and they may take a portion for holding the date.
5) Confirm the hours to be worked in writing. For instance, when you hire a DJ or a band, get it in writing exactly how long and late they'll play.
6) Check out the total fee on your contract. There could be gratuities and other fees added on, so make sure you know the bottom line before you sign.
7) Consider wedding or event insurance. Costs range, but generally, it's in the hundreds. But it may cover you for illness or catastrophic weather. You can also check your homeowners' policy to see if you have any coverage there.
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7 On Your Side gets couple's deposit back after accident derails dream wedding