Sign contracts on the dotted line and watch your bank account drop one payment closer to “oh my gosh weddings are so expensive.” But before you sign, before you agree to pay someone for their services, make sure that the contract is legit. This isn’t going to be a tale of woe, where we explain how to sue the pants off of some poor sucker who wronged you deeply on the day that you were wed, nope. This is going to be (nonlegal) advice, and my opinion on what you should ensure is included in your contracts with vendors before you get to the point of an unhappy customer. Again, LEGAL DISCLAIMER - The following is intended for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of legal advice. If you have a particular problem, please contact your attorney.
All vendors will be a little bit different but here’s what I like to see in a contract.
Business Info and Payment Types:
Business name and contact info, including what forms of payment are accepted. Contact information should include a physical address, email and phone. If they want the contract printed, signed, and faxed back, there should be a fax number somewhere on there as well. Do they accept checks, is there an address to send your check, if it’s a credit card is there a transaction fee for that swipe, do they only accept cash? When you hand over the money, will they provide you with a receipt?
What is due upfront as a deposit or retainer? Can payments be broken up over several months? When is the balance due? Are there late fees? How will any extra fees or add-ons be billed or charged?
HINT: I suggest that all payments be made in full before the wedding day. There is nothing worse than having an outstanding balance that you must pay BEFORE your guests get fed. Talk about a major buzz kill. Your big day isn’t about financial obligations; it’s about love. Doy.
Names and Contact Information:
You will want the contract to specify the persons who are entering into this contract, that way you know you have control over the services this vendor provides. It also means you are responsible for ensuring that the vendor is paid and that you fulfil your end of the contract (you know, showing up to your wedding and such). This helps keep nosy, do-gooders (read: family) from taking over the decision making process with this vendor. You’re on the contract; you’re the maker of decisions.
Terms of the contract:
Ah, good old terms. When is this contract good for? When will it expire? Plus a whole lot of other legal mumbo jumbo. Like what are your rights if you feel as though you were wronged, can you fire them? Sue them? If so, how? In what county, and who pays for the legal fees? As a consumer, you ought to know your rights but also respect that companies have a right to protect themselves as well. Some companies might have a clause about slander, and this one is important. Check out this article for more on that evil D word: defamation.
Length or Timeframe of Service:
How long are they going to be at your wedding? If it’s a rental company, florist or baker, are they just delivering or are they also setting up? And if they are not setting up, who is going to be responsible for setup?
How you obtain the product:
Delivery or pickup and what about after your wedding? How will you receive your images or video? Will it be via mailed thumb drive (again make sure your address is on the contract) or will it be via an online gallery?
Vendors may ask for your permission to use your images in their marketing, social media, in print, or on their website. It may be none or all of the vendors you have at your wedding, but they should all be obtaining your permission before taking your picture and sharing it with the world. If you prefer some privacy, specify it in the contract.
Who will own the digital products of your wedding? Your monogram? The program design? How about images and film footage? Is the cake platter included when you purchase your cake or is that a rental? What about floral vases? Understand who owns what and what you are paying for.
Return of Products or Rentals:
When do items rented need to be returned? Whether it’s rental items that are slated to be picked up from the venue, floral vases that need to be returned to the shop, or linens that go back in laundry bags. You’ll want to know how, where and in what shape items need to be given back to the vendor. Plates and silverware may need to be rinsed, that’s a big one to ask about, laundry typically goes back unlaundered, woopie!
Looking for an easy cheat sheet for making sure your vendors have contracts that answer all of your questions and are actually legit? I got choo girl.
While not all of these items MUST be in the contract, you MUST get clarification, again, ask a lawyer if you have specific questions about the legality of your contract, but be a smart consumer. Over communicate, it will be good practice for your marriage.
Prosperity, Love & Happiness, Josey
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josey Stafford- Founder + Head Planner
Sixpence Events & Planning
Josey Stafford is a Minneapolis based event planner, focusing on weddings for millennials who want a stress-free engagement and a wedding filled with laughter and awkward hand gestures.
As a people connector and lover of all types of tea, she works hard to ensure that her clients are educated, their vendors are happy and everyone receives their daily dose of happiness via hugs.