NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a moment one Nashville couple had waited months for, but their wedding day changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wayde and Cassie Morrow were supposed to get married on April 4. They planned to have the ceremony at a church and the rehearsal dinner and reception at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville.
"We were told initially we would be getting a zero percent refund," said Wayde Morrow said of the reception scheduled at the Scarritt Bennett Center. "It was either reschedule, or cancel with no refund. That didn't sit well with us."
Sarah Wilke, Executive Director of the Scarritt Bennett Center, said in a statement that all events and weddings at the location could be postponed at no additional charge. She said the vast majority of their customers chose to reschedule.
She added that the Morrows' event exceeded 50 people, and they were contacted because guidelines issued by Metro Nashville and the Federal Government in March prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people.
Morrow said the contract they signed with the Scarritt Bennett Center stated if a customer canceled the event they would be forced to forfeit their money, but the contract did not specify what happened if the venue canceled the event. Morrow said he believed they were entitled to a full refund.
Wilke said the contract the Morrows signed is standard for event venues and it clearly stated there were no refunds. However, the center did refund a portion of the Morrows' deposit because the dinner and reception were scheduled within a two-week frame, and the center wanted to do what it could to offset some of their loss.
Morrow said after multiple discussions with the Director of Events, the center offered to give them 40 percent of their money back.
"We have yet to receive that check," said Morrow. "We think it is coming."
Morrow said they considered taking legal action against the center, but it would be too costly. He said it is still unclear what the venue did with the other 60 percent of their money.
"When I requested a detailed receipt, they said they didn't do that," said Morrow.
Wilke said the Scarritt Bennett Center absorbed the cost for the food already purchased for the Morrows' reception and rehearsal dinner. The chef and kitchen staff turned all of the available food supplies into prepared meals and donated it to Salama Serves, a program in the Edgehill community that serves children who are no longer receiving meals at school. Wilke added the rest of the Morrows' payment was applied to Scarritt Bennett Center's operating expenses.
Wilke said in a statement: "We are saddened for all whose plans have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; it's just one among an untold number of hardships we are all now having to endure."
After months of planning, the Morrows were forced to change their plans. A pastor married them on March 23 in front of less than 10 people. Family members watched the ceremony via Skype. They postponed their honeymoon until September, and are starting their marriage together in quarantine.
"We tried to remember what was most important which was that we got married," said Morrow. "There are a lot of people who are suffering right now on much deeper levels."
Morrow said the entire experience was stressful. As wedding season continues, and more people may be forced to make changes to weddings and receptions, he recommended other couples read their contracts carefully.