Wedding Planning

Contract Concerns? What You Need to Know Before You Sign


You’ve done your research and found a vendor you love and once you’re ready to commit, BOOM! You get the page equivalent of a college term paper dropped in front of you. Suddenly you start to worry that you need to hire an attorney to comb over legalese because it feels like you’re about to sign your life away. It’s going to be ok.

Contracts can be intimidating, but they’re put in place to protect you and your vendor. All too often, couples end up getting short-changed when they go with a vendor who might be a friend or acquaintance who doesn’t live up to their verbal commitment. A signed agreement gives you grounds to argue if you feel a service provider hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain. On the other hand, those contracts release your vendor from certain liabilities – any they're all things you need to be aware of. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by a contract, we have a breakdown of some of the most common clauses and provisions and what that means for you.

Signing contracts can be intimidating

Acts of God/Nature or Force majeure

If your venue is flattened by a tornado or your photographer loses all of his or her equipment in a flood, you’re unlikely to be able to hold them financially accountable due to a Force majeure clause. These instances are rare, but when they happen, it’s clear that no entity is responsible. While they are standard in most service-based contracts, read the full clause anyway because there will be valuable information about what happens to your deposit and any payments you’ve made. In some cases, you may not be able to expect a refund. If it isn’t clearly stated, make sure to ask.

Vendor meals and breaks

Even if it isn’t explicitly stated in a contract, it’s good form to feed people who are working for you on your wedding day. In a lot of cases, they will be working upwards of six hours and/or during standard meal times. Most vendors require that they be provided a meal and, depending on the length of their work day, may have scheduled break times. This is one of the details we manage with our Day-Of Coordination services, but it’s very important to add those meals to your final head count with the caterer, if you’re hiring one. Also, confirm with your vendors about any assistants they may bring with them who will also need to be fed.

Indemnification and Hold Harmless

Popular with venues, this clause usually states that the property cannot be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur during your wedding and reception. Most of these clauses also include a line that holds the renter responsible for court costs if someone does attempt to sue, so this is a section to read particularly carefully.  This is a good opportunity to ask your venue representative questions about certain features of the grounds you may be concerned about as well as how their security (if they require it) monitors the area.

Cancellation and transfers

Things happen. Sometimes couples have a reason they need to push the date back, move it up or cancel altogether. If you find yourself in this situation, consult your contract about the cancellation or transfer policy. Some contracts allow for an incremental refund based on the number of days prior to your wedding or after the contract was signed. Other contracts don’t provide any refund at all. In the event that you need to make a change, information is usually clearly provided to help you calculate the cost. If it isn’t, ask your vendor for their policy, ideally before you sign.

The good news is, we’re here to help you sort through all of the contract questions prior to the wedding AND make sure you’re meeting all of your obligations for the day-of. It can be a lot to handle, but when you focus on the guarantees you’re getting out of the contract, the value is more apparent. We’re here to help you every step of the way, so if you’re struggling with any of the details, send us a message and we’ll get back with you to set up a consultation!

Are there any other clauses or provisions that are leaving you scratching your head? Do you have concerns about what you will and won’t be provided? Leave your questions in the comments!