After months of planning, you’ve done everything you can to prepare for your event.  You’ve got your speakers lined up, caterers confirmed, decorations finalized, and then, the unthinkable happens: your venue cancels. Hopefully, this never becomes your reality. But in case it does, try not to panic (OK, you can panic a little). Even though your first choice fell through, there are plenty of creative options that will help you find another great space.

After the initial shock wears off, take a few deep breaths, and read on to learn what to do when your venue cancels.

1. Get more clarity

If the venue cancels without much explanation, don’t give up just yet! Sometimes venues cancel because either the owner has to leave town last minute or they have a family emergency. In those instances, you can often hire an onsite manager to be there on behalf of the venue owner. Before you go into panic mode, follow up first to see if there’s any potential workaround.

2. Ask for your deposit

If hiring an onsite manager isn’t an option, make sure you receive your deposit back — assuming you were required to give one in the first place. Just because you’ve lost your venue doesn’t mean you should lose any money in the process.

3. Start sourcing new spaces   

While losing your top venue is less than ideal, there are most likely other hidden gems that will work just as well (or even better). Look for new venues that you might have missed on your initial search. We suggest searching in similar neighborhood so the venue change won’t affect guests or vendors drastically.

4. Update vendors

You should update your vendors ASAP for two reasons: First, they’ll have enough time to make adjustments and second, vendors can be an additional resource. Oftentimes, local vendors will have recommendations of other venues in the area that they’ve worked with before. Reach out and see if they have any suggestions for a Plan B.

5. Consider your second (or third) choice

Think back to venues you were considering in your initial planning stages. Since you already had a conversation going with a number of different spaces, they’ll already understand your event needs. Let them know your venue canceled last minute and many will be excited to earn last minute inventory.

6. Reschedule if possible

If your heart was set on your initial venue, think about changing dates. It might be a headache to coordinate with your vendors and guests, but if it’s a smaller event, it could be worth the hassle. After you’ve rescheduled, email attendees who have RSVP’d and change the date in all promotional materials.

Bonus tip: If you haven’t locked down a venue yet, make sure to discuss what would happen in the case of a family emergency or other situations that could lead to a venue cancellation. That way, you’ll know your options ahead of time and have a solid plan B from the start.

Want more information on finding the right venue for your event? Check out “Thinking Outside the Ballroom: The Rise of Nontraditional and Unique Event Venues.

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