How Much For A Case Of Whine?

Lauren Martin Vogelpohl helps me put this blog together and she is invaluable. I will be interested in her take on this post. Lauren recently got married. I don’t know any details of what she paid for the event, but I suspect she did not have to deal with a charge being imposed by a New York Hotel.

The Union Street Guest House, located near the Catskills is charging couples $500 if any of their guests post a negative online review of the reception. Here’s what it says: 

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party. The fine will be doubled if you point out what buttheads we are.” 

Okay, I made up the last sentence. But something about this offends my sensibilities as a First Amendment lawyer and as a recent father of the bride.

The thing is, I don’t think the First Amendment would matter here. If the couple agree to the provision, it’s just a contract case. And it is very common to insert non-disparagement provisions in agreements. I do wonder, however, if a court would strike this provision down on public policy grounds.

But if any of my readers are thinking about booking a wedding at this place, I have two pieces of advice. Number 1 – don’t do it. Number 2 – if you ignore #1 read the fine print in your agreement.