There has been a lot of chat recently on the Bridechilla community about using friends as wedding vendors and how to ensure that you receive the goods or services that have been promised without offending them or feeling awkward.
I have also been writing about contracts and negotiating with vendors for my upcoming book the Bridechilla survival guide and went back and listen to this episode with Wedding Lawyer Christie Asselin.
I thought it was so good and informative that it was worth a second offering.
Don’t miss Christie’s top five tips for ensuring that your wedding is covered when it comes to contracts and negotiations with offenders, venues and other suppliers who you are dealing with throughout this process.
As I am sure we’re all well aware, the average wedding costs $30,000 these days.
That’s a larger operating budget than many small businesses begin with. Not to be the voice of doom and gloom but sometimes things that are completely out of your hands can go wrong, vendors don’t come through with the goods (literally) and you can be left out of pocket.
Below are Christie's 5 top tips for looking after yourself and making sure you are aware of how to proceed if you need to seek legal advice.
Listen to episode 289 of Bridechilla
1. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING
Get all of your agreements in writing. Yes - even if your florist is your cousin. This is the Wedding Lawyer’s Golden Rule. Be sure the contract is specific. What is the vendor agreeing to do before, during and after the wedding. Is your caterer cleaning up those dirty plates after dinner? Or do you need to hire a bussing staff to do that? Do you want your photographer to visit the location before your big day?
2. DON'T PAY CASH
Use your credit cards or ATM cards, and not cash, to pay for wedding purchases. And, save those receipts. If you think you’ve been defrauded, you can contact your credit card company and they can start a review or charge back process. Cash, of course, does not offer that process. Each credit card company will have its own policies on how this will transpire. So, do not wait. The deadline for the process may come up quicker than you expect.
3. SEEK OUTSIDE ADVICE
It can be really tough for a couple to negotiate the terms of an agreement. Hire a professional to help you! I got married last August. There were a few times when I just wanted to dig my heels in on something as a bride. That was really tough, even for me, and I just love to negotiate! You want to have a good relationship with your vendor. Sometimes, you need an outside third party to advocate for you.
4. KEEP EVERYTHING
Keep everything - all receipts, and all correspondence. Email correspondence is not only a preferred manner of communications these days, it will help keep you organized. When you are communicating with 8-12 vendors, it’s easy to forget what somebody expressly said to you during a meeting, for instance. So, if it’s important, confirm over email. If you do not have written proof of a purchase or a promise, a court of law may decide the purchase or promise did not happen. You can prevent that by keeping sufficient records.
5. DON'T DELAY SEEKING LEGAL GUIDANCE
Do not wait to bring a case against a vendor. There are statutes of limitation in operation for all claims from negligence to breach of contract to fraud. If you fail to file a lawsuit before the applicable statute of limitations has run, you have likely lost your ability to sue, and have lost all right to remedies. These laws are important to know, numerous, and sometimes complex. They also vary by jurisdiction. In California, for instance, the statutes of limitation run anywhere between 1 and 4 years to sue depending on the claim. So, don’t hesitate to seek your legal remedies once you are aware of your claims.
Her'e a great article from Christie to get you stared on the right path!
8 DIY Steps To Handling A Conflict With Your Wedding Vendor.
If you are working with vendors who aren't providing a contract...bring your own. Head to Christie's Website to download your wedding contract template. It's priced very reasonably at $9.99.
Please note that Ms. Asselin is only admitted to practice in California. If you live outside of California, and are seeking counsel, please contact your local bar association for a referral.