Melbourne couple told to pay $12K for cancelled wedding

By @chelean on
A platter of salmon canapes, akin to that which is usually served at receptions, are seen at Buckingham Palace in London March 25, 2011.
A platter of salmon canapes, akin to that which is usually served at receptions, are seen at Buckingham Palace in London March 25, 2011. Reuters/Nick Ansell/POOL

A Melbourne couple has been forced to pay $12,000 for a wedding venue that was not used. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal (VCAT) ruled in favour of Maison Melboune after learning that Tarryn Sohn and Jason Conway had no legitimate reason to end their contract with the company.

Sohn and Conway originally planned to marry at Maison Melbourne in Elsternwick, Victoria, and signed a contract with the company in February 2016. However, they changed their mind three months before their wedding after a tasting in December. According to them, the quality of food and presentation were subpar compared to what was shown on the company’s Facebook page. The food was allegedly cold, there’s no vegetarian menu and the desserts were chocolate-based, which the couple are both intolerant to.

Herald Sun reports that the couple, who managed to find another wedding venue at the Langham Hotel in Southbank, were expecting to be served a top class catering overseen by head chef Jason Peynenborg. Maison Melbourne claimed the couple abandoned their contract after learning Peynenborg no longer worked there.

The company demanded that the couple pay $12,500 cancellation fee, which was 75 percent of the $16,000 contract for 140 guests and $690 ceremony fee, after it failed to find an alternate booking. Sohn and Conway countersued, alleging that since the function did not take place, the company did not suffer any real loss.

They said that Maison Melbourne did not incur any of the costs associated with catering and hosting a function, including service payment, venue preparation, food and beverages, utility, and bookkeeping costs among others. They also claimed that the company misled them about the type of cocktails to be provided during canapés. Apparently, if they wanted more than champagne-based cocktails served in champagne flutes or if they wanted branded soft drinks, they would have to pay for these themselves.

According to VCAT member Tania Petranis, although Maison had used the word “cocktails” loosely, there was no misrepresentation done by the company. There was also no suggestion of the brand of soft drinks they would be offered.

Maison used Peyenborg’s name in advertising and promotions, but it did not promise that he would be present on the event itself. Petranis also believed that the new cooks were sufficient replacements. The tasting held for Sohn and five guests might not be to Sohn’s taste or requirements, but Maison also made it clear to her that she would get to choose her own menu for her wedding.

“Having looked at the photos (taken at the tasting and from Maison’s Facebook page), I find it very difficult to tell the quality of the food or see a huge difference between the photos,” the VCAT member. She added that the couple’s contract with Maison ended later than December, when Sohn’s lawyers sent an email to Maison on Jan. 27 that formally “reconfirmed that the contract was at an end.”

Sohn and Conway were found to have had no legitimate reason to abandon their contract. They were ordered to pay Maison Melbourne another $8,298.50.