YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!! First off, congratulations, this is going to be such an exciting time in your life! As you get into wedding planning you’re going to find that there is a LOT that goes into it. Vendors, decorations, food, guests, there will be a lot to juggle! As you begin to book your vendors and plan out your day, you want to make sure that you’re protected. That’s where contracts come in! With all the moving parts of a wedding you’ll want to make sure that you have contracts with each of your vendors.
These contracts will go over details and protect you (and the vendor) from a number of different things. The vendor contracts will outline exactly what products and services they are providing as well as a number of other important things. The legalities of wedding planning can be overwhelming, that’s why I’ve put together this blog post. Throughout this post, we will cover what you’ll want to look for when it comes to your wedding vendor contracts.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have a contract in place with any business entity that is providing you with a service. Contracts are there to protect you and the service provider you’re working with. They also protect the service or product you hope to obtain! Your contracts with your wedding vendor ensure that you will receive the service you’re paying for, and if you for some reason don’t receive the service, you know exactly what will happen as a result.
If a vendor tries to “sign you on” without a contract or a down payment, you will want to ask for one. If they don’t have one available to you, this could potentially be a red flag and I strongly suggest not sending them any money until you have a contract in place.
Now, much like any other agreement you accept for services, wedding vendor contracts are typically VERY long. Vendor contracts are this way as there is a lot to cover and protect. Though it may seem unnecessary, it is SUPER important that prior to booking you look through your wedding vendor contracts. Read over them from start to finish and be sure to ask any questions you might have. As you’re reading through your vendor contracts, there are some key clauses to look for that I have listed below.
First and foremost do NOT sign a contract that doesn’t have your event date, first and last name(s), and the services that they are providing listed on the contract. When you receive your contract, look for these items listed and double check them to make sure everything is correct. Triple check items like your event date, how much your invoice will be, and whether or not your name has the correct spelling. Once that is good to go check for the section that has your deliverables listed. For example, if you are hiring a wedding photographer, you will want to see your itemized package on the contract. Say you’re hiring your photographer for 6 hours of wedding coverage, along with a second shooter for 3 hours, you will want to make sure both of these services are on your contract before you sign.
Every wedding vendor should have a backup plan in case they cannot make it to your wedding. Like any job, there is always a chance that your vendor falls ill, suffers an injury, or for some INSANE reason cannot make it to your wedding day. In my contract, I go over my plan of action if I do come down with some sort of severe illness that prevents me from attending your wedding. Every contract should mention what would happen if the services you are paying for cannot be completed. Whether that is a refund, an alternative/backup venue, or a substitute photographer. Whatever the plan may be make sure that it is in the contract before you sign.
Typically with every vendor once you sign on, you will have to pay a non-refundable deposit. You will pay this non-refundable deposit at the same time you sign your wedding vendor contract. When you sign on your wedding vendors you’re not only reserving them for your date, but you are also locking them into a certain amount of income for that day. Wedding vendors use a non-refundable deposit to not only make sure you and your partner are serious about booking them, but also to ensure that even if you cancel your wedding the night before or need to adjust your date, they can pay their bills. You will want to read through the fine print to find out exactly what is non-refundable for your vendors. Then, you will want to check up to what point the rest of your payment is refundable.
Next, you’ll want to look through your contract and pay close attention to what fees are involved with hiring your vendor. There may be fees that can come up outside of the ones listed on your invoice, so you and your partner will want to take note of these fees before you sign the contract. How much does it cost to keep your photographer an extra hour if your day is running behind? How far in advance do you need to pay your vendor before your wedding day? Also, are there any taxes or travel fees that are not included in the initial invoice? These are clauses you should look for in your contracts.
**Note that it is industry standard to pay your full invoice prior to your wedding day, in fact, in most contracts your wedding vendor is not required to show up if the full invoice is not paid.**
With the way the world has shifted since 2020 rescheduling policies are necessary in every contract. If you are booking a wedding vendor and you decide to change your date or something happens where you must reschedule, you will want to note their rescheduling policy. Every vendors policy looks a little different but typically you forfeit your retainer and then will need to use a new retainer to reserve them for your new date if they are available. Look for this clause in your contract in case the world does shut down again or something happens where you need to switch your date.
Last but not least, this one is fairly photographer and videographer specific, BUT for both your sanity as well as your photographers sanity you will want to check your wedding vendor contracts to see what the turn around time is for your photos. You will thank yourself when you’re SO excited to see your photos after your wedding day but you won’t want to take the time to go back and find your contract to locate the date! Put it in your calendar and then you’ll know exactly when to expect them in your inbox.
These contracts are put in place to protect both your wedding vendors as well as you and bae. Not only do contracts offer protection, but they also allow us to establish a sense of trust so that I can truly document your wedding day so that it reflects you and your partner. Before signing any contract that has to do with your wedding, be sure to look over every clause thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask your vendor what various clauses mean or consult an attorney. You can also use blog posts like this one from The Knot, to help you read your contracts.
There are SO many things that go into the planning of your wedding day. If you’re looking for more information on wedding planning and wedding inspiration head to my blog to check out more of my latest posts!