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.