How wedding insurance can protect you in case of disaster

Kathryn Hawkins

Your wedding day is meant to be a celebration of the love that you and your partner share, but some ceremonies quickly veer from delightful to disastrous.

Case in point: In October 2012, drunken members of two separate wedding parties collided in a Philadelphia hotel and ended up in a fistfight that resulted in three arrests and one fatal heart attack.

There may be no way to prevent fights and other wedding-day complications from occurring entirely although limiting alcohol intake might help), but in some cases, you can protect your bank account from taking a hit by buying wedding insurance before saying, "I do."

What to look for in a policy

With most wedding insurance policies, you can mix and match coverage types to make sure you've got the protection you need. Before springing for insurance coverage, however, it's worth finding out what coverage already is provided by the wedding venue and your vendors so you can avoid doubling up.

"The reception site or caterer may already have their own insurance, so there would be no need for overlapping coverage," says Aviva Samuels, a wedding planner in Florida. "My clients can then evaluate where they are not fully covered and where they would need to supplement with a policy of their own."

A wedding planner or insurance broker can help you determine which types of coverage you need.

An average wedding insurance policy costs between $320 and $420, according to USA Today. That's a small amount compared with the average price tag of nearly $27,000 for a wedding.

"If you've invested a large sum of money into the wedding of your dreams, why wouldn't you want to invest just a little bit more for a policy that protects your investment from circumstances beyond your control, reimburses expenses already incurred and pays out immediately in the form of peace of mind?" Samuels says.

Here are six things wedding insurance can — and cannot — cover.

1. Liability.

All sorts of liability issues arise at weddings, often thanks to the typical open-bar atmosphere. So what's covered? If one of your guests gets drunk at your wedding and gets into an accident on the way home, a liability policy can protect you. And if rowdy guests damage the wedding venue — or harm each other — the policy can protect you in that case as well.

However, if you instigate a fight with one of your guests and he later files a lawsuit, you won't be protected. That's assault and battery, "and we won't touch that," says Robert Nuccio, an insurance broker who sells specialty wedding insurance policies through

Most policies won't provide coverage if you trash your own wedding, either. Markel Insurance's sample policy does not cover "expected or intended injury"— meaning any intentional damage to either property or another person that was caused by the policyholder.

2. Cancellation because of unforeseen circumstances.

Weddings often must be postponed or cancelled because of weather issues such as a snowstorm or tornado. "I've gotten 40 calls in the last two days from people filing claims because they needed to postpone their weddings due to Hurricane Sandy," Nuccio said in early December.

If you're asking guests to travel to a destination wedding, insurance is particularly important, as travel-related complications are more likely.

"As a destination-wedding planner, I find that having insurance can give couples peace of mind, since you have much less control when you are traveling to a destination," says Jamie Chang, a wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in California.

Other reasons for postponement might include a death or severe illness in the family, or a sudden military deployment.

So if you have to call it off, what's covered? Generally, cancellation coverage will pay for all non-refundable charges associated with the wedding and honeymoon, up to a certain dollar limit outlined in your policy, often $1 million.

3. Vendor cancellations or problems.

What happens if your wedding photographer is a no-show or your caterer doesn't deliver your cake? If you've purchased the right protection, you can file a claim to cover these damages.

A "loss of deposits" rider will reimburse you for any nonrefundable deposits you've paid to a vendor who doesn't deliver what was promised. If your photographer's shots are damaged, some photography insurance policies will pay the costs associated with restaging the wedding party with a new cake, flowers and other decorations, and even travel costs for the wedding party.

4. Cold feet.

What happens if you or your partner gets cold feet before the big day and decides to call off the ceremony? In many cases, even with wedding insurance, you won't be able to make a claim.

However, if the wedding is being paid for by the couple's parents or someone other than the bride or groom, the financiers may purchase their own "change of heart" insurance from, which will help them get their money back if the wedding falls through. Keep in mind that this insurance covers only those "changes of heart" that occur at least seven months before the wedding, so it won't do much good if there's a runaway bride or groom.

5. Gifts.

At most weddings, the gift table fills up with thousands of dollars worth of home appliances, décor and cash. Although rare, thefts do happen. In September 2012, newlyweds Amy and Jason Wright woke up the morning after their wedding in Pennsylvania to discover that all of their gifts — valued at roughly $10,000— had been stolen during the night. If they'd had a wedding insurance policy with a rider to cover gifts, they could have filed a claim to recover the value of the gifts.

If you're hosting the wedding in your own home, however, you already may be covered from theft under your homeowner's policy. But check with your agent or insurer to make sure you have enough coverage.

6. Special attire.

If you paid $5,000 for a custom wedding dress, what happens if your bridesmaid spills a glass of wine on it? Coverage for special attire can protect the value of your wedding outfits against mishaps such as theft, destruction by another person or a vendor's failure to deliver an outfit on time or to the standards they'd agreed to.

See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!