Wedding Venue Got A Liquor License, Changed BYOB Policy On Us

Redd and his fiancé started their wedding planning about a year ago. They wanted to have both the ceremony and the reception at the same venue, and found one that seemed ideal. Catering was available, but since the facility didn’t have a liquor license, they could bring in their own alcohol. They could save a lot of money that way, since Redd brews his own beer and other types of booze are cheaper to purchase yourself than to buy from a caterer. Months after they signed the contract and paid in full, they learned that the venue had obtained a liquor license. Facility staff insisted that they had the right to change the contract after it was signed, and the Redds would have to purchase their booze from the venue.

A year ago my fiancé and I started the search for a venue to hold our wedding and reception. We ended up picking a community center near our home. The price was good, they offered catering and the best part was we could bring in our own alcohol. Big savings! We signed the contract and paid in full back in October.

Fast forward to April and by chance we see on the local news that the community center applied for and received a liquor license from the city. We called up the facility director we had been dealing with and asked what this meant for us since we had already had a signed contract. The response we got was along the lines of tough luck you have to buy your booze through us now. Also she said we needed to read the fine print in the contract and they had the right to make changes. After reading through the contract numerous times there is no fine print giving them that right.

We looked at the price list and decided we didn’t like their prices. $219 for a 1/2 barrel of PBR does seem a bit high. A 1/2 barrel of New Glarus Spotted Cow goes for $370. My fiancé sent an e-mail to the community centers board detailing our issue with all of this.

A few days later a different facilities director called us and apologized. After talking it over they offered us a 20% discount on alcohol purchased through them. Also we asked if I could bring in my own beer since I’m a homebrewer. We were told that wouldn’t be a problem. They just needed to have their catering director figure out how much I would be allowed to bring in. Sure we would have to pay more for booze but the cost would be off set by the fact I could bring my own beer in. This seemed satisfactory to us and for the most part we considered the issue taken care of. But it wasn’t.

I tried calling their catering director a couple weeks later and left a voicemail for him. After not getting a response for a couple weeks I tried e-mailing him. Tried calling again and left another voicemail. Still no resposne. I ended up getting distracted with other aspects of the wedding planning and life. When June rolls around I try getting in contact with the catering director again. This time around I find out that he was no longer working there and there was a new catering director. So I have to ask her about the homebrew. She took a few days to research the question and she gets back to me with the bad news. City ordinaces state that any alcohol they serve must be purchased through a distributor. I even check with the city clerk’s office myself to verify this. No homebrew at the reception.

So today I spoke to the facilities director again and pointed out that we had a contract allowing us to bring in our own alcohol. I acknowledged that the situation had changed because of them getting an alcohol license but what they’re charging is not acceptable to us. I told her we were willing to work with them on more reasonable pricing. Something along the lines of we pay X amount over their cost. I understand that they need to cover their costs and make a profit. I was told the catering director would contact me on Monday or Tuesday.

Am I being to nit-picky about all of this? A few people have even told us to have a lawyer review the contract. How hard should we push on this? We signed the contract and paid a year ahead of time thinking we could avoid problems like this. I know the situation has changed but I feel like they’re not holding up their side of the contract. We would switch to a different venue but most places were already booked up six months ago.

They need to at least consult a lawyer and have that lawyer look over the venue contract. If Redd had never seen that news report, when was the facility planning to deliver the news about the demise of their BYOB policy?

If the facility has the right to unilaterally change the contract after it’s signed, then why bother with a contract at all? If anything can change at any moment, they should save time and just seal business deals with a handshake and a shrug.

Comments

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  1. Bsamm09 says:

    I think you could break the contract. Not sure if you want to but if the city doesn’t allow it, the caterer’s hands are tied. You could be a dick and book another place and break the original contract if allowed. They probably think they have you hooked since it might be hard to book another place.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      If the original contract said they were allowed to BYOB, and the contract doesn’t say they get to change the contract at their whim (which, by the way, should actually be illegal IMHO), then the facility has no legal grounds to change that. The facility is bound by contract to let them BYOB and not charge them anything for the privelege.

      Would help if we could see the text of the contract.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        Most contracts have clauses that alter them if the legal circumstances or regulations change. If a the new license forbids BYOB (I know in Texas those allowing the serving alcohol usually do) then the contract must be amended. Either that or the severability clause (again, most have it) kicks in and the BYOB portion of the contract is null.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          But those severability clauses universally say “if any portions of this contract is found to be…” But the thing is, at the time of the contract being written and signed it WASN’T illegal, and after the business changed its rules, do to their own actions, became illegal. So the business caused the contract to be changed by their own volition.

          Frankly my opinion is that the couple is fully within their right to break the contract with no penalties, and the location should comp the liquor (at least up to the cost the couple would have paid anyway) or they should be sued for the cost of a wedding.

          • howie_in_az says:

            Yes, this would be a materially adverse contract change — same as when a phone company changes their billing practices.

      • seth_lerman says:

        Except nothing in the contract will enable them to break the law. If the city ordinance says no homebrew served (no non-distributor bought alcohol) then having a contract with the venue won’t change that.

        • crummybum11 says:

          So after a business signs a contract, they can just change the kind of business they are, and suddenly they don’t have to honor the contract?

          Sounds a little fishy to me.

          • Geekybiker says:

            No, that’s pretty standard. You can sign a contract to kill someone, but it you don’t go and kill them you can’t be sued for breach of contract. Contracts for illegal services are pretty universally void. However in this case he can’t bring his home brew, but the venue should allow him to bring in whatever pre-bottled alcohol he wants.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          Around here I think all the fines are against the licensed venue, not the patron breaking the law.

    • Megladon says:

      It sounds like the other party already broke the contract. Now I am wondering what Redd can sue them for for their breach of contract. He would obviously have to choose a new place if he did that or his service will suck.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      This is BS. They should just honor the contract and let you bring in your own alcohol “without their knowledge” and not force you to buy theirs.
      The city wont be there enforcing anything. They can just let you get by and do it for the one night you already paid for.
      Why do they have to make this so damn complicated??

  2. TuxthePenguin says:

    “If the facility has the right to unilaterally change the contract after it’s signed, then why bother with a contract at all? If anything can change at any moment, they should save time and just seal business deals with a handshake and a shrug.”

    IANAL, but I know that in Texas there are several different types of liquor licenses. One of my friends/clients runs a wine store (one type of license) and then had to amend it to be able to host wine tastings (another type). Only that second type meant that no one could bring in wine.

    Most contracts have clauses that cover this sort of thing – if laws change, the contract will be adjusted accordingly. Now this one is a bit of a stretch since the venue itself made the change that altered the applicable laws and regulations, but if that’s the case they should simply refund the money and move on. One thing I’ve learned is you don’t mess with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and its ilk.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      So where will they move on TO since all the other facilities are booked up, now?

    • edman007 says:

      You run into issues with homebrew, it can’t be sold (since it’s untaxed). You can only legally serve it under a BYOB policy, if their liquor license prevent BYOB (which I find hard to beleive, it’s usually that they have to buy alcohol from a distributor, if they don’t buy it then they are not in violation).

      I don’t think the laws changed, if you don’t have a license the law generally says BYOB is legal, if they got a license that made it illegal then they did something to break the contract (they can still do what it says by dropping the license). However I think the real truth is some combination of not understanding their new license and not wanting BYOB and making up lies to justify it. And I highly doubt the actual laws changed to make BYOB illegal, that would basically mean drinking at home was illegal.

      As for the contract, if they didn’t put a clause in there that says they can change anything they want then I think the OP only needs to get, in writing, the facility saying they can no longer support BYOB, that means they broke that clause, and you need to refer to the contract as to what happens when they break a clause (it probably voids the contract), again obtaining a license is not the same as the laws changing, so it is something within their control. I think the OP can then just consider it a broken contract and pick someone else that will do BYOB. Anyways, IANAL, so talk to a lawyer if it looks like like you have to go down that path.

      • RandomHookup says:

        When it comes to state alcohol laws, I never speculate. Too many strange situations and a lot of variation from state to state.

  3. bikeoid says:

    If this community center is so reliant on reselling alcohol as an income source, do they disallow Baptist wedding receptions? (There is no drinking at those events).

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      LOL good luck with that.

    • delicatedisarray says:

      That really depends on the Baptist. I was raised in a Baptist church and attended many weddings that had alcohol present. It varied to just drinks at the toast to a full open bar.

      I didn’t have alcohol at my wedding, but that was because of the venue. I held my ceremony and reception at a park that did not allow alcohol.

    • bluline says:

      Not true. I’ve seen plenty of people at Baptist events spiking their drinks from a flask!

    • humphrmi says:

      Wow, you couldn’t use Mormons or Muslims as an example? Baptists was the best you could come up with? I’m hard pressed to think of a Baptist I know who isn’t a heavy drinker…

      • Azagthoth says:

        I have lived in Utah my entire life. I have been to many Mormon weddings and receptions. I can confirm they have no alcohol and that is one of the many reasons they suck.

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    If local law now bars them from allowing you to BYOB, they have to follow that.
    Personally I would only agree to amend the contract to have them sell you the liquor at cost.

    Otherwise, you can consider that they’ve violated the contract. That said, you will probably have to sue them for the money back.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      We really, really need to see the contract. Most have severability clauses. Basically, if part of the contract becomes illegal, it doesn’t nullify the entire contract. So if BYOB under the new license is now illegal, that part is stricken and the rest remains.

      Its very, very common to have that in contracts and even legislation – its one of the things that made the ACA lawsuit a big deal – it didn’t have one, so if one part was thrown out, the entire law would be.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Nothing is preventing the business from revoking its own liquior license, then going through the rigamarole to get a new one later.

        After all, it’s their own fault for causing this situation.

      • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

        Even if the part made illegal was a rather fundamental part of the contract?
        For example you had a contract to host a pokemon party, and the town made pokemon parties illegal, would that contract still be considered valid?

      • Oh_No84 says:

        Nope. The liquor license only controls the liquor served by the venue.
        They can still allow BYOB.

        Also yes, if the law invalidates part of the contract then the whole contract is void. Also remember a liquor license is optional so if the claim it is against their license then the contract would not allow them to get the license.

  5. hexx says:

    Definitely have a lawyer look over the contract. It all comes down to the terms of the contract.

    • The Schwartz says:

      All our various opinions are basically worthless, but a lawyer would help them understand their rights, figure out their options, speed negotiations, and reach a fair resolution. It stinks that they’ll have to bear this additional cost, but it seems like the venue is not going to be very cooperative otherwise.

      • scoosdad says:

        It’s amazing what a phone call from a lawyer does to a business. We had trouble this summer with a large metropolitan hotel, part of a national chain starting with “M” not honoring our signed contract specifying exclusive use of ALL of their meeting space from 8 AM of day “X” through to midnight at the end of day “Y” (about a five day spread, all of which we were paying for). Their sales office thought they could just arbitrarily double-book some spaces at times when they thought our program wouldn’t be needing it. That created all kinds of havoc for our behind the scenes setup and prep and planning, and we asked them to relocate the other group. They refused.

        So our lawyer called their office to ask what the name and phone number of their legal counsel was. They, as it turns out, had none on retainer. This large hotel, when faced with needing to hire an attorney to resolve this matter, simply relented and moved the other group out and gave us our space back. After that they were cooperative and actually easy to deal with. All from a simple phone call.

        • Geotis says:

          Sometimes the threat of a lawsuit is just as powerful as an actual lawsuit.

          • bbb111 says:

            “Sometimes the threat of a lawsuit is just as powerful as an actual lawsuit.”

            But be ready to follow through if they call your bluff. They might have staff lawyers who use the tactic of bankrupting the opposition with filings and maneuvers that you have to pay a lawyer to answer.

  6. callenjr says:

    If your jurisdiction is anything like mine, BYOB is out of the question. Some jurisdictions do not allow the discounting of alcohol to one person without offering the same price to the general public, which would rule out the providing of beverages “at cost”. One legal (in my area) loophole would be that the venue pay the difference between what you would have paid originally with the catering charge. Would probably be cheaper than going to court however I doubt they would (or could) agree to such a solution.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Could easily discount other aspects of the wedding to compensate instead.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    You’re not being nitpicky. You should price the cost you would pay for your liquor, including your costs associated with home brew, and you should be paying no more than that for the alcohol. The location should pay the rest and be grateful you don’t sue them.

    • longfeltwant says:

      This is the correct answer. If the issue is the cost of the catered alcohol then addressing the cost is a sufficient amelioration. The customer should tell the venue that she planned to bring a certain list of alcohols, which would cost her a certain amount, and if the venue insists then it can provide that alcohol at that cost.

  8. elangomatt says:

    It would be a lot more helpful if we knew which state the OP was having their wedding in. Judging from the fact that they are talking about New Glarus Spotted Cow, I’d assume it is Wisconsin. Looking over the Wisconsin Liquor laws, it might be accurate that they can’t sell alcohol unless it has come from a distributor. When a Wisconsin business has a Class B liquor license, they cannot purchase alcohol from a retailer if they run out or anything. I suppose that the venue is trying to say that they can’t have any alcohol served there that isn’t from a distributor even though the venue didn’t actually purchase the beer. IANAL so I don’t really know who’s interpretation is correct.

    • elangomatt says:

      In case anyone is wondering, I am assuming the OP is in Wisconsin since as far as I know, New Glarus only produces and distributes beer in Wisconsin. They don’t want to deal with all of the various PITA laws of other states.

      • NickRayko says:

        You’re correct that New Glarus is only distributed in WI. However, they used to be available outside of the state; the owners/brewer decided to reduce the distribution radius out of a concern for beer quality – they felt better able to maintain a certain standard if it was kept closer to home. I remember reading that since they had no trouble selling all of their production in Wisconsin, and no desire to expand beyond a certain production volume, there was no reason to distribute out of state.

    • humphrmi says:

      The question isn’t whether they can bring their own liquor. The OP states that he looked up the laws and confirmed that he can’t.

      The question is, what the community center owes the OP money. They signed a contract allowing BYOB, and they knew they had that contractual commitment when they decided to get a liquor license. Now, they make more money (liquor sales to all patrons) because of that choice. In contract law, this is a classic case. They owe the OP compensation. The question is, how much and whether they’ll voluntarily offer it, or be forced to by the courts.

  9. Tim says:

    As far as I see it, the contract is null and void. The venue essentially signed a contract that they can’t legally uphold now. The contract said you could bring your own booze, and now the city won’t allow it.

    So does the contract have a clause for what happens if the venue cannot uphold its end of the contract? If so, you could either take advantage of that and find another venue (extremely difficult) or use that as leverage to negotiate a sweet discount on the booze.

    Also, probably hire a lawyer.

  10. sqeelar says:

    AA is a fellowship of men and women to try not to drink. Perhaps you could join AA, make a few friends and not have this problem with the reception.

    I’m sure the place would then charge $350/gallon for soft drinks, too.

    • selianth says:

      Oh, yes, this is obviously the solution. And btw the prices quoted above were per keg, not per gallon. A keg (or 1/2 barrel, same thing) is usually 15.5 gallons. If you’re going to troll at least know what you’re talking about.

    • Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

      Next time you get a hangnail, just go ahead and cut your arm off at the elbow. That way you’ll make a few friends at the emergency room, and never have a problem with hangnails again.

  11. bonzombiekitty says:

    It seems that since the venue now has a liquor license, they are not allowed to serve home made alcohol anymore, it would be illegal for them to do so. So in those terms, they are SOL. He cannot serve his home made beer.

    However it does appear that they can legally sell alcohol purchased from a distributor. So he should be able to legally purchase his own alcohol and serve it. In that case, the venue should allow him to BYO, particularly if it is mentioned in the original contract – after all, he chose the venue in part because being able to supply his own alcohol saved a lot of money. The venue should not be allowed to unilaterally change that aspect.

    If the venue will not let him bring in his own alcohol, he should get a discount that would make the alcohol cost similar to what he would have otherwise spent. Again, this all depends on the contract. If the contract states he can supply his own alcohol that’s a significant change that cannot be done unilaterally. That’s different from changing the price of something to reflect changes of market prices which cannot realistically be done with 100% accuracy a year out.

    Saying, “oh the meals are going to be $40 each instead of $39 because the cost of supplies went up a lot in the last six months” would, to my knowledge, be an acceptable unilateral change to the contract provided you are far enough out. However, saying “Oh, here’s this brand new cost that you could not have possibly expected. It will be an additional $3000″ is a pretty drastic change.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      Also to note, the above is all dependent on how the contract was written and what jurisdiction you are in. As some mentioned, the contract may have a clause that allows them to strike anything that eventually becomes illegal. And even in that case, there may still be some wiggle room in the ability to leave the contract without penalties if said law alters important parts of the contract.

      Either way, the venue should be working out some sort of deal.

  12. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    The way I’m reading this is that the liquor isn’t the problem with the city ordinance; it’s the homebrew. I can understand there being concerns with the Health department over some guy brewing a batch of beer in his kitchen for serving at a large event. It looks more to me as though the problem is the venue got a liquor license and now they can legally sell it, so they themselves nullified the original contract for profit.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, the only thing that changed is the venue’s ability to legally sell liquor and now they’re unwilling to lose out on that profit by standing by the original contract allowing the OP to bring his own. If that’s the case, I’d point out that if the costs of liquor had been on the table during the original intro phase, I’d have walked away. See if that gets them to be more reasonable.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      No, many states have a strict rule regarding BYOB and liquor licenses. Namely, if the business has a liquor license you can’t BYOB no matter what the alcohol is.

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        Yes but according to the article, it just said the alcohol has to come from a distributor. They didn’t say anything about not being able to BYO at all. It was all about the home brew.

        I had a small, similar issue when I got married. When were setting up the wedding, I asked if I could bring a couple cases of my home made beer to serve. They initially said OK, and that they don’t normally allow people to bring their own alcohol I could bring a case or two since it was such a small amount. Then, about 6 months before the wedding they said they legally couldn’t serve anything that was not brewed by a licensed brewery. They said I could still bring it, and give it to guests but they weren’t allowed to drink it during the event.

      • cantiloon says:

        Are you sure about that? I thought corkage was pretty standard across the country. I know you can do it on the east coast and we have some really stupid laws, like the case law in PA and there’s pretty much no alcohol at grocery stores in PA, DE, and NJ, NY but corkage is an option in all of them.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I haven’t looked closely at state liquor laws, but I don’t think corkage is all that common. And certainly, every state has some interesting points on liquor laws.

          • cantiloon says:

            I don’t know, I googled “corkage legal state X” and most pages said it’s OK. I don’t think it’s a common practice, just a legal one. Also, according to this, it is legal in TX unless the place has distilled spirts: http://www.tabc.state.tx.us/faq/general.asp (number 9.) however that clause would certainly nullify the venue as I would imagine they sell spirits at weddings.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          No, I’m not 100% sure on that. But in my own state, that’s the law. If you have a license, you are the only person that can supply the alcohol. I know other states have identical or near-identical.

          Someone above did point out that every state does have some wierd variations.

      • cantiloon says:

        Are you sure about that? I thought corkage was pretty standard across the country. I know you can do it on the east coast and we have some really stupid laws, like the case law in PA and there’s pretty much no alcohol at grocery stores in PA, DE, and NJ, but corkage is an option in all of them and also in NY.

  13. cantiloon says:

    I’m sure it varies from state to state or possibility even city to city, but where I live, even with a liquor license BYOB is not illegal. It’s just a policy at places. That’s why they have corking fees. No idea how it works in Texas, though.

    It sounds like they would be SOL on the homebrew, but it may be worth getting the exact verbiage of the law. I’m sure that they cannot *sell* alcohol that was not purchased through a distributor, but the wording is specifically about serving and not selling, then you probably have no recourse even if it’s stipulated in the contract.

  14. dullard says:

    Lots of speculating here. Have an attorney review the contract as well as the local laws and go from there.

  15. Blueskylaw says:

    What I want to know is how many repeat customers and good word of mouth this
    establishment expects to get if they constantly try to screw customers in such a way?

  16. stephent says:

    Sounds like something they could take to small claims court to recover the extra cost of the booze if there really is no language in the contract allowing for this change. Breaking the contract is no good at this point since they are probably so close to the wedding it would cause “duress and mental anguish.” The fact that the city ordinance does not allow for them to bring their own booze should be moot since when the contract was signed no such restriction existed for the venue and it was their own decision to change their circumstances. You can’t sign a contract and then latter say “oh well I found a better deal sorry”

    • stephent says:

      oh and they could also get the local news involved. Everyone loves a good they ruined our wedding story.

    • RandomHookup says:

      A contract can’t be allowed to violate local law. If the venue now can’t allow BYOB, the contract can’t change that. There are ways to make the purchaser whole, but the venue can’t be forced to violate the law based on a contract.

      • cleo159 says:

        That’s true, and I think that OP’s chances of being able to serve his own beer is slim to none. However, I think that stephent’s comment about suing later is a fair idea. OP could argue that the venue acted in bad faith by applying for a license that would be materially adverse to him and never told him that they intended to do that when he signed the contract, when they began to contemplate and prepare for applying for it, when they applied for it, nor when actually received it. Then, when he tried to work with them, they repeatedly gave him misleading, conflicting, and incorrect information, and neglected to contact him in a timely fashion (here we are 5 months after they received their license), thereby eliminating his ability to find a suitable alternative location. The OP has attempted to contact that to negotiate the newly added costs, but the venue has not been able to work with him. I think he has a fair case.

        • stephent says:

          cleo that is pretty much my point. The liquor license is also a contract and signing another contract with a 3rd party can not supersede the obligations you have to an older contract. So while they may not be allowed to have their own beer at the reception, they certainly would have a strong legal case if there is no language in the original contract specifically precluding it and remember any ambiguity in a contract goes in favor of the person that did not draft it.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I agree that he has a fair case, but you can’t force the venue to violate the law. That’s what stephent was arguing. There are a number of ways to make them whole, but that specific enforcement isn’t allowable.

          • stephent says:

            See that is where I am not so sure since the liquor license is something they took on voluntarily and could just as easily get rid of. Just because it is a contract with the government doesn’t mean that it can supersede an existing civil contract. They could easily argue that the hall must forfeit or take the fine or whatever the consequence is for allowing them to bring in their own alcohol. The hall can’t argue undue financial duress for forfeiting the license since they operated successfully without it until now.

  17. MPD01605 says:

    Interesting, if you sign in from an article, it goes to a different article after signing in.

    Anyway, what’s the main problem? If it’s the homebrew, you’re SOL. If it’s that the alcohol is really expensive, then work on a discount. Work out what it would have cost you to bring your own alcohol, then figure out how you much it’d cost from the caterer. Maybe request a discount on the space to offset any higher costs in addition to the discount on the alcohol. Yes, you signed a contract with the price, but have a lawyer look over it and if obtaining the liquor license allows you to break the contract, negotiate new terms.
    IANAL but that’s what I would try to do. Hope it works out.

  18. Hoss says:

    The homebrew part makes sense. The service has no way of knowing alcohol content or if it’s safe to drink. But I wouldn’t be a sucker for other changes. Your options are more limited at this point and more costly so them breaking the deal is going to cost them in terms of settling the difference.

    • Hoss says:

      I might suggest contacting your Attorney General’s office their input. But let the hall know that is what you intend to do to give them a chance to reconsider.

    • cantiloon says:

      “The service has no way of knowing alcohol content…” I think they’re much more concerned about following the law than that. They have homebrew competitions and there’s no special homebrew insurance required or any waivers that drinkers need to sign or any nonsense like that.

  19. Robert Nagel says:

    The facility can’t allow home brew because of their action in getting the new license. Therefore, any damages are the responsibility of the facility. Go ahead with the wedding and hold costs as low a possible and go after them after the honeymoon. They are responsible for the costs in excess of what they would have been. Both parties are required to mitigate any damages so don’t waste money. On the other hand don’t short yourself in what you originally planned on having. This is a dispute that can be solved after the party with money damages. Small claims court, here we come!

  20. SJPadbury says:

    I think the point that everyone is missing here, is because of the law, BYOB is not legal now that they have a license. I doubt anyone is contesting that it’s a material change of contract, and I’m sure the venue would be more than happy to refund the couple and send them on their way.

    The problem with that is, have you ever tried to find a place for a wedding reception on short notice? So the couple is really stuck, while the venue legally can’t allow off-site alcohol, and if they were to allow the couple to do so, would lose their license.

    I honestly don’t see a situation where anyone actually wins here.

  21. Sertorius says:

    This is NOT a “change in the law.” At least, nothing in the post suggests it is. The facility made the conscious choice to apply for a liquor license and get one. If that means they can no longer perform what they promised under their contract, they are in breach.

    It may be true that the facility has put themselves in the position of either breaking the contract or breaking the law — if so, that is not a legal excuse for the breach. This dilemma is entirely the fault of the facility.

    Obviously, this post does not constitute specific legal advice. Get a local lawyer if there is enough money at stake to justify it.

  22. samonela says:

    Not trying to troll here…this is a serious statement…

    But why is alcohol even required at the wedding reception? I am imagining they could save a big chunk of cash if they just decide to go without (especially considering the fact that they have paid off the venue costs in full).

    My wedding was alcohol free (my wife and I spent our money on other things just to be able to put a decent event together and keep it within out means) and we had a grand ol’ time.

    Of course, my best man’s wedding, which occurred a few months before my own, was also alcohol free…so one of his guests took it upon himself to show up drunk. It was sad, he was hooting and hollering during the ceremony (think: what the audience does when Al Bundy makes his first appearance in each episode) and got thrown out for getting handsy with ladies during the reception.

  23. Cor Aquilonis says:

    Lawyer-time!

  24. Cerne says:

    Redd’s solution of paying X over costs seems like the fairest and most workable solution. It looks like the venue’s liquor licence prevents the best solution of Redd using his home brew. This is yet another example of how moronic puritanical liquor laws hurt individuals and businesses. Isn’t crony capitalism and the legacy of prohibition just grand?

  25. TravistyRobertoson says:

    I think they are missing a big point:

    “City ordinaces state that any alcohol they serve must be purchased through a distributor”

    I recently went to a wedding were the workers were not allowed to serve the alcohol brought in, but any guest could pour it themselves.

  26. RandomLetters says:

    Since when can a city issue a liquor license? Wouldn’t that normally be handled by a state agency?

  27. ArizonaGeek says:

    Not sure what state OP is in, but I got married in Utah last year and the venue where we got married served alcohol. We had brought our own (for the same reasons, cheaper) and the venue said that was fine but it had be served away from the food and their staff was not allowed to serve or touch it. It was our responsibility for our alcohol and who was served. If you notice the OPs venue said THEY were not allowed to serve it! Tell them you’re bringing your own alcohol and that no staff from the venue is allowed to touch it! Just keep it away from their food. That should get around their policy and the city ordinances.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I seriously doubt it. That may work in some places, but between the liquor laws and the venue’s insurance company, it probably won’t work in the majority of states.

  28. Geekybiker says:

    One option is that you go ahead with party, let them serve their beer and then sue them for the cost difference later in small claims. Might want to consult a lawyer first to see if this would work. They are in breach and those would be the damages. IANAL of course.

  29. Delicious Spam is delicious says:

    1: it sounds like they made a contract with op under false pretenses and it’s void. get your deposit back and go somewhere else. If they won’t get your deposit back just ask them how much they like the news papers and go with your local business shamer.

  30. Waltersinister3 says:

    An interesting legal question. If the law changes or outside circumstances change and makes part of a contract illegal, that is one question. If the venue deliberately changes their circumstances in a way that makes part of the contract illegal that is another question. One you should ask a lawyer. Violating the law is out, but whether they owe you compensation or some accommodation is another question.

  31. Bog says:

    Easy fix…. Bring it in anyway… Maybe half way through the reception bring in out your homebrew… By then it would be too late for the venue to stop you.

    • Owl says:

      They could actually shut down the event. It’s either risk interrupting your night of fun, or risk losing their liquor license if someone blows the whistle.

      My guess is, if you tried to get your money back after pulling a stunt like that, you’d get your ass handed to you in court.

  32. Corinthos says:

    I have actually seen this case on Judge Judy years ago. Judge Judy awarded the plaintiff. I know its not a real court but I would consult a lawyer.

    • Corinthos says:

      It was a bit different because they showed up the day of the event and the alcohol was turned away at the door.

  33. Owl says:

    This is tricky because of their getting the license. If they allow you to serve the homebrew, will it invalidate their liquor license? If they will not allow you to serve the homebrew, the contract becomes unenforceable and you can ask for your money back. This isn’t ideal, but is an option.

    Check with a lawyer, and be sure to ask if there is a way to force the venue to allow you to serve your homebrew, if you can do so without having the venue lose their liquor license.

    Food for thought, set up a spreadsheet to compare the original cost when you could BYOB (yes, including the cost of the beer you would have bought) with the other options the venue is giving you. Another way of enforcing the contract is to have them come as close as possible to the cost you would have incurred if they were able to follow through with the original contract. They might actually lose money by eating the cost, but they should have thought of that when they applied for the liquor license, knowing full well that they informed you that you could BYOB.

  34. marzolian says:

    Call a lawyer, NOW.

  35. Cerealmom says:

    I work for a municipal liquor board so I had to chime in on this.Liquor licensing laws vary widely from state to state and and in some states each county even has different standards and practices. In my particular area, all licensees (bars,restaurants,theaters) MUST buy their liquor (defined as non-malt spirits) from the local government liquor control board AND they must abide by all requirements of the license,one of those being no outside alcohol is allowed on their premise and if it is an “on-premise” license, alcohol cannot be purchased inside and then taken out.And to answer a burning question,the venue has no choice in the matter.To allow any outside alcohol could cost them a fine,suspension and/or revocation of their liquor license.The Board of License Commissioners are not going care whether there was a contract or not if the venue breaks the law.They simply legally cannot fulfill the contract and local,state and federal laws supersede this reservation contract.

    • kpsi355 says:

      IANAL. That being said, plain reading of what you stated is this:
      You and the community center willingly entered into a contract. Now, through no fault of your own, the contract can no longer be fulfilled. Rather, the center willingly took on obligations to the state (obtaining a liquor license and being subject to those new laws) that would keep them from fulfilling their end of the contract.

      Pretty much gives you an out, if you want to go through the hassle of finding a new place. You can demand all of your money back, and probably demand some additional money for Breach of Contract. Again, this involves some hassle, depending on how much the center wants to fight it. Alternatively, you use this possibility as a pretty effective beatstick(TM) to get favorable rates. I would argue that you should get cost on all alcoholic bevs. They wouldn’t lose money (since when they signed the contract they weren’t going to make $ on alcohol anyways) and you don’t lose money either since you were just going to buy/make your own. If you still want to give your guests the beer you make, find another way to give it out. Ask specifically what the law allows and prohibits, and use that to make an informed decision.
      Again, I Am Not A Lawyer.

      • kpsi355 says:

        Oh, and your best bet is to get a lawyer involved. Often the only thing you need from him/her is for a letter to be drafted on law office stationary indicating your seriousness, and suddenly the bureaucratic sticks-in-the-mud will become much more accommodating.

        Good luck on your wedding and congratulations!

      • Billy C says:

        I don’t think you could normally sue for extra money on Breach of Contract if said breach is due to them following newly enforced state law. That’s forcing them to have to choose between either having a license or getting sued for imaginary damages, which isn’t fair. However if they just choose to not notify relevant parties that they now have a license which changes the contract, that could reasonably lead to claims of damages from having lost that extra time. I think a reasonable compromise here is for the centre to supply the booze at cost since this is a special circumstance, or at least apply to the state for an temporary exception for this event.

        • Stucco says:

          IANAL – But I believe you can sue for damages, which should include both their original fee and fees associated with a replacement venue above and beyond the original venue’s costs.

          That means I think they could force the original venue to cover the cost difference for a new venue. Given how close the timing is, that won’t be cheap.

    • july18 says:

      no one asked for a self-serving opinion of a liquor license – this is only about a facility trying to change the terms of a contract simply and only for the benefit of the parties who prepared the contract but now want the other party (wedding) to absorb the cost of changing those terms – it has nothing to do with your job.

    • allnitecp says:

      You are so right. State, municipal and county laws supersede in this case. I own a venue that is used for weddings and I do have a liquor license. Every year I have to draw a map of my venue that determines where liquor can and can’t be consumed. In these areas I can lose my license and face steep fines, none of which I am willing to do.

      My contracts even have a clause that states that any change in state laws or procedure do not nullify the contract.

      It is beyond nice that venue is offering you a discount on the liquor. I would take it and enjoy your special day.

  36. july18 says:

    if there is ambiguity in the contract and terms –

    the party NOT preparing the contract benefits in a dispute – NOT the person/party preparing the document.

    any open ends like “as needed” is NOT specific and is not a definitive legal term.

  37. triangle resident says:

    Had the facility planned to contact the parties with BYOB agreements on their existing contracts? at this point, I would contact the troubleshooter for the local TV station. Some public light needs to be shed on this.

  38. impatientgirl says:

    Clear violation of the contract. No you can’t change the contract at any time without the other party’s consent unless that is specified in the original contract.

    • euph_22 says:

      It’s a clear violation of a contract you haven’t read?

    • Vegetius says:

      Not necessarily. Under the doctrine of Force Majeure, if outside circumstances make it impossible to fulfill the terms of a contract then the contract is no longer valid, with no liability to the contracting parties.

  39. daemonaquila says:

    If the contract truly lets them change terms unilaterally, bad on them for writing a contract and bad on the OP for not reading it thoroughly (or reading it thoroughly then signing it). However, I’d stick to my guns and run roughshod over the venue legally and in the media. It’s not ok to book events based on one policy, then change the policy knowing that it will effect existing bookings and just shrug it off. But really, please, please, please read contracts before signing them, and be willing to walk away if there’s something in the contract that raises red flags. I have avoided a tremendous amount of pain over the years this way. Either a business will prove that it’s worth working with, but being willing to correct the problem (though you still can’t always trust them after that), or they’ll prove to you that you absolutely, positively were right in saying you’d walk.

  40. Broke_Daddy says:

    I’d get a consultation with an attorney if you have time, and maybe if you want to go the distance contact the District Attorney’s office and ask for the “official” ruling from them as to the legality of bringing in your own liquor.
    To my mind, a contract is just that and neither you nor the venue has the right, unless specifically stated in the contract, to make material changes to that contract without the full and written consent (by a new contract replacing the old contract) by both parties.
    Congratulations and best of luck.