By Rebecca Padgett
Selecting florals and deciding on menu options might be the highlights of wedding planning, but it might be more important to carefully comb through your venue and vendor contracts to ensure that all of your wedding day wishes come to fruition.
Contracts have become increasingly important. Many 2020 brides can tell you how important contracts are, and with the presence of COVID-19 lingering, it’s vital that you know how to decipher contracts should your wedding plans need to change.
In this article, we’ll define legal terms and discuss aspects you should seek out in a wedding contract.
What Is A Wedding Contract?
Even though we all know we shouldn’t, it’s easy to just sign your name on a line without fully reading and comprehending a contract. Do not do that with your wedding contracts. You are investing your time, money and happiness, therefore you should ensure the contract aligns with what you want and need for your wedding. Essentially, a contract is a document that presents an agreement between the couple and the vendor.
Wedding contracts protect both the couple and the company, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and knows the expectations of one another. Don’t feel pressure to read through this quickly — take your time, ask questions and express any concerns. Your contacts should always be presented as a written document. Don’t settle for an email, phone call or a text as a contractual agreement.
Services Provided/Scope of Services
This details all that is to be included and provided by the vendor. This should align with what you had expected them to provide. If something appears to be missing, just ask the vendor about it. This section should not leave you with any questions about what services the vendor will provide on your wedding day and leading up to it.
It should be evident what, when and how you are paying your vendor. The services and the price of each service should be listed and explained if need be. Be sure to ask about any additional fees so you are not surprised at a later date. The policy should be clear on non-refundable deposits versus refundable. A payment plan or schedule should be presented, and you should be made aware of any late fees or penalties. Your vendor should also make you aware of their payment methods and if any involve additional fees (credit cards often do).
These are usually only included if your vendor is having to travel or something unexpected occurs. If your vendor is travelling from another city or state their travel expectations should be clear. Will you need to pay for transportation, accommodations, food, etc., and at what cost? You should also have the discussion about possible higher costs. For example — if the florist cannot get one flower and wants to compensate with another, or dress alterations ended up being more extensive. Your vendor should always discuss these issues with you first.
Gratuity or tips
With some vendors, gratuities are included — but not always. Be aware which parts of the contract includes gratuity and which does not. That way you can be prepared to present tips.
As a result of the past year, cancellation and rescheduling has become more common than ever, and because of this, your vendors should have policies in place. Read carefully and express any questions or concerns, such as: Is my deposit transferable? Will there be any additional fees? How far in advance do you need to know? Do I get preference in selecting a new date? You should also be aware of the difference between postponement and cancelling (worst case scenario).
Termination differs from cancelling, this is when something occurs in the relationship between the vendor and couple. Typically this occurs when an aspect of the contract isn’t being met. While not ideal, you should be aware of how to get out of your contract and what fees you would be charged.
It’s possible you will see the term “force majeure,” which means an act of God such as a natural disaster, death or a pandemic. Another cause for concern would be if the company goes out of business. In any of these cases, you need to inquire about a contingency plan. Example: If (fill in the blank) happens, what would happen to my wedding?
Hold harmless is a statement that protects one party should the other become injured, suffer losses or experience damages.
On the opposite side, indemnification is a provision in which one or both parties commit to compensate the other or each other for any harm, loss or damage arising from the event.
Your venue may require that you purchase event insurance, or you may decide to purchase this on your own. Also referred to as one-day event insurance, this is a policy that helps protect your investment in an event. Event insurance helps cover costs in case of injury or damage that occurs during your event. This can be purchased for around $100.
This states that the parties agree that the particular state’s laws will be used to interpret the agreement should anything arise that leads to a legal dispute. This is particularly important if you live in a different state than your vendor; you will have to travel back should a court date be needed and that state’s laws would apply.