You want to start executing your wedding plans and have already selected your vendors and suppliers for the event. You’ve already met most of them and have decided to move forward with booking your favorite vendors. Now, what’s next? You will want to make sure you have to take the time to review their contracts for a few different reasons.
This article will discuss the things that you need to look for in a wedding vendor contract before affixing your signature and paying for their services. It will also talk about the importance of having a wedding contract in order for you to have an idea of what exactly you are getting into.
What is a Wedding Contract?
A wedding contract is a document or a legal agreement between the client and the wedding vendors that include the specific terms and offered services. It is a way to ensure that the client knows exactly what they are paying for. Deposits can sometimes be non-refundable so you have to make sure that you have read the page from top to bottom before signing it.
I am no lawyer, but some contracts are pretty black and white. Imagine buying a house and you don’t have any information about its past owners, its history, and foundation and you simply signed the contract without any idea what you’re getting into. Weddings are no different, signing wedding contracts allows you to get a glimpse of the services and expectations that you are getting.
5 Things to Look For In A Wedding Contract
A wedding contract is categorized into different sections known as clauses. This will help both parties understand the sections better. Booking a wedding vendor is also a business transaction and you want to ensure that you know every detail, scope, and boundary of their specific service.
Here is the list of things that you should look out for when reviewing a contract from a wedding vendor:
No. 1 Look out for “unknown” words and phrases
There can be some “unknown” items in your wedding contracts that are not obvious to you because you probably do not work in the wedding or legal industry. If you have a legal question ask the vendor to explain what that means but also make sure you do your due diligence and speak to an attorney.
Phrases such as “hold harmless agreement” and “indemnification” appear in some clauses in a wedding contract. According to weddingwire.com, these phrases simply mean that a party, probably the vendor, is legally released from any liabilities if something goes wrong during the wedding event. This agreement minimizes the vendor’s risk of being part of litigation and does not allow you to pursue or file a claim of indemnity.
No 2. Scope of services provided
The weddingpro.com specifically stated that the “scope of work” includes the services you are going to provide, when or how long you are going to provide them, how much it costs, any exclusions, and what the finished project will be.
When I review a contract for my clients I am not reviewing as an attorney but as a wedding planner. I am checking to make sure that the dates, times, deliveries, and expectations all add up to my client’s vision. Brides.com suggests that there should be clauses that include a specific rundown of services that you will be receiving from the vendor. The service section should also specify who or where the service will be provided.
For some vendors like caterers or the wedding DJ, their contracts have to specify every dish that will be served at your wedding or the kind of music played during the reception. My job is to point out discrepancies in the wedding contracts, for example, if the rental company requires those farm tables you have rented from them to be covered even at an outside venue. Does that mean you should also rent a tent to protect the tables? Did they specify the time of set up? The venue might also charge you an additional fee if your wedding is running late or if you are not cleaning up as contracted. This is a great time to get your vendors on the phone and ask them to explain anything that is not clear or situational questions – like being overtime with the venue.
No. 3 Flexibility of service
During this time of pandemic where uncertainty is inevitable the flexibility of the contract is important. Wedding vendors have become flexible with their policies these days to adjust to the client’s unexpected hurdles. Vendors can be flexible in areas like payment deadlines and other postponement fees. But remember that wedding vendors are not helping you with the wedding for fun. They also mean business and there are limits to the adjustments that they can make for your big day.
The wedding cakes and the printed invitations, for example, may charge you additional fees if your wedding has been moved to a later date and the cake needs to be remade and the invitations are already printed. Your vendors may have already invested funds so they will also find ways to set firm boundaries for their flexibility to protect their business. If you and that vendor make any changes or promises please have them update the contract in writing. This will hold them accountable, help you remember what you are getting, and additionally clear up discrepancies for you and the vendor. Keep in mind, if you booked a vendor 12 months ago, you might forget what you signed up for – including promises made by the vendor, exceptions, etc. I see this happen all the time! Clear up any misunderstandings by getting any changes in writing, otherwise, you run the risk of paying for overlapping or the same services from different vendors.
No. 4 Refunds and Cancellation Policies
For some couples whose wedding event has been derailed by the pandemic or some other unforeseen circumstance, getting a refund from their wedding vendors can be an uphill battle. The refund policy is one of the basics of a wedding contract. It will give you an idea of how much of the deposit you will be able to get back in case of a force majeure (according to Wedding Wire) event or if the venue will temporarily close down because of COVID.
According to the knot, given a refund clause, you should be able to get back a certain percentage of any deposits you made if the party is canceled by a certain date. What will happen to the retainer fee if the wedding is rescheduled and the vendor is not able to accommodate the couple on the new date? The contracts should include a clear explanation so you would know what to expect during these situations for it can save you a lot of stress in the future.
No. 5 Be mindful of the payment terms
The payment section of the contract should be plain and transparent. It should include dates on when the payments are due, what deposits are refundable and the penalty policies. It should have a detailed answer to all the questions about the terms of payment. It should also outline the cost of services and the project’s total estimate.
Decide on a payment schedule that would work best on your cash flow and make sure that the total amount should include relevant fees and taxes. Every wedding vendor has its guidelines for the payment method. Some will agree on a tiered payment and some will require you to pay upfront. Read the contract and make sure that you are aware of their payment options and policies to prevent breaching of the contract.
The Importance of Wedding Contract
The goal of having a contract with your wedding vendors is to cement or finalize both parties’ legal obligations to each other. It is a critical component and is sometimes mandatory for it defines the scope of service and the details of the project. The contract will allow both parties to understand what should be expected in terms of payments, deliverables and services. Verbal agreements without the support of a written contract could also work but are never a reliable method in terms of transactions with wedding vendors.
Having everything you’ve agreed on, with your vendors and suppliers, printed down on paper is a great way to guarantee that you will be receiving the services exactly as what you’ve paid for.
Considering these 5 elements that you should look for in a wedding contract before affixing your signature on the dotted lines can surely protect you from charges that you are not expecting. Be sure to take time in reviewing your wedding contracts as it can really protect you from unexpected liabilities and unwanted stipulations. It will also help vendors know exactly what is expected from them during the event.
Do you need more help with your wedding preparations? Visit us at https://simpleweddingplanning.com/blog/. Whether you just have gotten engaged or already started planning your wedding, we will provide you with pro tips and tricks on how you can make wedding planning simple and easy.