Wedding contracts can be a bore, but they are so important. A contract is what secures your investment and helps to establish the services provided. It also acts as a reference for many of your questions. Keep reading to learn the in’s and out’s of wedding contracts. From what to expect, details a contract should include, and how to ensure that your investment is protected.

What is a Wedding Contract?

A wedding contract is a summary of an agreement between two parties. You and a vendor. The binding part of a contract is the signatures. Signatures from you and the vendor. Be sure that the right people are signing the contract, otherwise it may not be as airtight. All your vendors are likely to have a contract, but the most imporant are for the wedding venue and photographer. These are typically the two areas in which couples spend the most money. Making their contracts and the details within especially essential to hash out. A wedding contract is usually presented only once you have confirmed that you would like to book with a vendor. Although some vendors will provide it right out, as some details can make or break your decision.
wedding photographer

What Should a Wedding Contract Include?

  1. The scope of services. - Defining the scope of a vendors services is important. Don’t leave out the little details or be fooled into thinking that you don’t need to put it all in the contract. Having it in writing may be your saving grace.. For example, establishing offical dates and times. Time is especially important. If you pay for 4 hours of service, there is no excuse for the vendor to leave any earlier.
  2. What happens in the event of an emergency. - Emergencies are unavoidable. They happen and the best way to deal with them is to have a plan in place. Be candid with your vendor about what they plan to do in the event that they have an emergency and can not attend. If they do not have an answer, consider it a red flag.
  3. An itemized list of what they will provide. - An itemized list is only appropriate for certain vendors, such as caterers and the DJ. Why? You will want to review it for your own planning purposes. It will dictate what you are responsible for bringing and what the vendor handles providing.
  4. Names and contact information. - This information is a must-have. First, get the details of the person in charge. You may need it to makes payments. You should also get the details of the person who will be on-site the day of your wedding. You may need to get ahold of them for help or in the event of an emergency.
  5. Proof of insurance/a liquor license. - You need a copy of these items attached to the contract for your own safety, and that of your venue. You can get into serious issues without it. If they are unwilling to provide proof, then they are not the vendor for you.
  6. Total cost. - It is recommended that you get an itemized price list. This will make it crystal clear what you are paying for. Plus it will make it easy to spot anything that doesn’t add up.
  7. Overtime fees. - Not every contract includes the cost of overtime fees, but they should. First things first, you need to know if the vendor is willing to stay longer than expected in the event that they are needed. From there, establish an overtime price and get it in writing. With these details set in stone, there should be no issue asking your vendor to stay longer. Plus you won’t have to hash out the details then and there.

Can You Break a Wedding Contract?

Yes, you can in fact break a wedding contract. So can the vendor. This is rare, but it happens. Often due to an emergency, or if either party is no longer interested in working with the other. This is why a cancellation and refund policy needs to be in the contract. Typically, the vendor requires a deposit. If you cancel, for whatever reason, you lose your deposit. The closer it is to the date of service that you cancel, the more of your investment you are likely to lose. If the vendor is the one cancelling, it can be quite up in the air. Some vendors will choose to give a full refund. Others opt for a partial refund. If you prefer one of these avenues over the other, make it clear and get it in writing before you put pen to paper.
A last word! The biggest mistake that you can make when working with contracts is being afraid. Afraid of coming off as rude or pushy. This is a non-issue. You are making a sizeable investment in your wedding day vendors. A professional will not take issue with you establishing a solid contract. In fact, a professional is more likely prepared for your questions. Because they’ve been asked them a thousand times before. If a vendor makes you uncomfortable about asking questions or comes off as rude when you pry, walk away. A vendor who doesn’t take your investment seriously, won’t take your wedding day seriously either.
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