Couples face a lot of new challenges when they start planning a wedding. Many are planning a major event for the first time in their lives, and with this process comes something particularly unfamiliar: vendor contracts. While these contracts may seem intimidating and a bit stressful, you can confidently sign the dotted line if you know what to look for. This is what you need to look at and do before signing any wedding vendor contract.
Look at the Sign-By Date
Your vendor will likely require you to sign the contract by a certain date. While you’ll want to spend some time reviewing your contract, you’ll also want to make sure you get it back in a timely manner to avoid the risk of losing your vendor. Before diving into the contract, be sure to note the sign-by date so that you can pace yourself.
Read the Contract Thoroughly…and then Read it Again
It isn’t the most compelling read, but you’ll want to read through the contract twice to make sure you know exactly what you are signing – and to make sure the vendor didn’t throw in any surprises. Have at least two people look it over, whether the second person is your partner, a family member, or a detail-oriented friend.
Double Check the Dates and Times
A small typo could lead to a big disaster. Make sure all dates and times are accurately reflected in your contract before signing.
Make Sure Every Expected Service is In Writing
Maybe you talked to your florist about guaranteeing the arrangements would be delivered by a certain time, or maybe you discussed having your makeup artist do both your engagement photo and wedding day looks for a discounted price. You may also be assuming the furniture rental company will actually be setting up the tables and chairs, and that the videographer will be creating a trailer wedding video. Whatever you’re expecting from the wedding vendors needs to be explicitly written out in the contract, even if it seems obvious to you that it would be included in their fee. If not written in the contract, you may end up not getting what you are expecting, or having to pay an additional fee to get the service added.
Confirm the Service Hours and Overtime Fees
If your party ends up running later than expected, you could end up paying a hefty price to vendors working outside of their planned hours. Confirm the actual hours that each vendor will be rendering their services, particularly when it comes to entertainment and bartenders. Also be sure to see what their overtime fees are so that you know what to expect if you decide to keep the party going.
Pay Close Attention to the Fees
In order to stay on budget and not run into any surprise invoices down the line, you’ll want to make sure you fully understand the fees outlined in your contract. Take a look at what the total fee actually includes, and pay particular attention to gratuity, additional fees, and taxes that may or may not have been added to that calculation.
Some vendors will add gratuity to their contracts, while some won’t. You should be aware of this so that you know whether to tip or not on the actual day of the wedding. As far as taxes go, the contract might just say “plus taxes” if the vendor hasn’t yet included the exact amount. If this is the case, you’ll want to do the math to figure out what these additional costs will look like. You should also pay close attention to any additional fees that may be incurred, such as a late fee for not returning decor rentals by a certain time and date, or a travel fee for out of town vendors. Before signing a vendor contract, you should have a crystal clear idea of what the total fee includes, and whether there may be additional costs on top of it.
Look at Payment Terms
You may be paying some vendors in scheduled installments, while you may be paying other vendors everything up front. Whatever the payment terms are, make sure you understand them and that you know exactly when and how much to pay your vendors.
Review the Cancellation Policy and Breach of Contract
If things don’t go as planned, you’ll want to make sure you still have some protections. For canceled or rescheduled weddings, you will want to see what the cancellation policy is. This should include how far in advance you are allowed to cancel, how you have to notify the vendor if there are any cancellation fees, and how much (if any) of your deposit you are able to get back if you cancel by a certain time. For the unlikely scenario where the vendor doesn’t perform their services (either partially or entirely), you are going to want to make sure there is a breach of contract clause that outlines what you are entitled to.
If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you. You will have the chance to meet with professional wedding vendors of all talents who can help bring your vision to life!