Great info from a colleague I met at a Bridal Conference with Natalie Bradley, Lia Moore. She generously allowed me to publish her article.
“Staying Out of Hot Water…Understanding Vendor Contracts”
by Lia Moore
The Contract – Covers You Covers Me!
Too often brides and grooms, ok mainly brides, are so excited to find wedding vendors and venues they fall in love with that they sign contracts without fully understanding what they are getting into. Vendor contracts are designed to keep everyone involved on the same page. They outline the services provided by the DJ, Florist, or Reception Hall, in addition to what your responsibility is as the client (payment schedules, meals for vendors, etc). Contracts come in all forms, from proper “English” to more common American language, so if there is something you don’t understand get it clarified! Remember, your choice vendors want to make you happy, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Cash, Check or Charge
“How will you be paying for it? Cash, check or charge?” is an extremely familiar phrase to us whenever we are shopping. So, when shopping through the perfect vendor’s contract, make sure to spend some time in the “payment” section. Here you will find all the necessities to ensure your vendor shows up on the day of your wedding.
Because your wedding is a major expense, it is only natural that you know how much you’ll be dishing out in order to stick to your wedding budget. Things to look for:
- Base cost for products or services
- Schedule for payments (when are you expected to make each installment)
- Who are you paying (where do you send the check and who is it made out to)
- What methods of payment are accepted (cash, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card)
- Late Payments (what are the late payment penalties)
- Retainers and Deposits (if you cancel, is your retainer or deposit refundable)
“You can have it your way”
Many years ago, Burger King was famous for this slogan. “You can have it your way!” was Burger Kings’ terms of service for their clients who walked through the door looking for a meal. Likewise, your caterer, florist, and photographer will have terms of service included in their contracts as well. You wedding date, the time frame for their services (how many hours), and vendor expectations are all things to pay attention to when reading through your service terms.
Helpful hint! before committing any “timing” services with your day-of vendors, make sure you’ve clarified and know time specifics for you venue. You don’t want you photographers 8 hour shift to start 2 hours before the venue will allow him in to photograph the location, or you will end up missing precious photos at the end of the night.
You’re Just a Call Away
You must, let me repeat, MUST be diligent to gather all the phone numbers and emails for your vendors. In your contract, the best contact numbers should be listed. And when booking services, like your limousine, make sure to request the name and phone number of your drive be provided prior to your wedding day. In the case of DJ services, they often work with numerous DJs, so make sure your preferred DJ is listed in your contract for your wedding date, so you don’t end up with one of his/her associates instead.
The most important thing to remember is to get everything that is important to you in writing in the contract. Make sure that both you and the vendor are comfortable with the terms, services, and agreements of the contract, to avoid any last minute surprises. Finally, any changes or modifications made on the contract should be done in writing not verbally.
Your Couture Bride Assignment:
- Take the time with your vendor to walk through the contract prior to signing. This give you the opportunity to ask questions and the vendor to point out anything that is particularly important. If you don’t have the time, take it home to read and schedule another time to follow up with any question.
- Additional cost are easily over looked. Find out how many assistants, security guards, valet, or staff are required to be at the event and if they are included in your price. Accessories and equipment are other expenses that can sneak up on you. The hair stylist may not provide hair accessories you want to include, the make-up artist may not provide fake eyelashes, the photographer may have an extra cost for additional albums, or the limo chauffeur may charge extra for champagne. For vendors who will be with you through the course of the day, check their service for meal requirements (you’ll need to keep this in mind when giving your final count to the venue or caterer).
- You will want to know how many hours you are paying for the vendor, how many hours of actual services you expect, what exactly is included in their services, and if needed, set-up and clean-up time is included in the price. When booking “limited” hour vendors, count backwards from the last important element of the day you want them to be in attendance for to calculate a good start time.
- Specifics between vendor vary, depend on what you are looking for. If you are unsure about a contract or whether it encompasses everything you want, I encourage you to consult a lawyer or get advice from your wedding planner. Your wedding planner has seen hundreds of these contracts and knows what to look for based on your needs.
© 2009-2010 Full Circle Eventi, LLC..
Want to use this article in your E-zine or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement:
Event Design entrepreneur Lia Moore publishes the “Couture Bride Circle” weekly e-zine. Get your F*REE report: “5 Designer Secrets to AVOID the Dreaded Cookie Cutter Wedding!” at www.FullCircleEventi.com