Milkos / Getty Images
While some couples think finding their wedding vendors is the most difficult part about planning the big day, it's actually what comes next that's the most complicated: signing the contracts. We talked to four different types of big-day professionals to find out what you need to know about each vendor category's contracts before you enter into a legally binding agreement. Armed with their advice, the contract process should be a lot clearer and more manageable.
The Wedding Venue
When you're reviewing the contract for your wedding venue, make sure it contains an itemized list of what the property is going to provide for your specific package, including anything you've made a verbal agreement about. Will they be providing rentals, or is it your job to bring them in? Does the venue provide catering and alcohol, and if so, roughly what will the food and drink for the entire day look like? Another key detail to make sure is outlined in your contract is the day's timeline. "It is so important to include the event start and end time as well as set-up and breakdown times in the agreement," says Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map. Since many venues book more than one event per day or per weekend, that timing is very important.
Another essential detail? The force majeure clause, which is especially important in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Be sure you understand what happens in the event you need to postpone the wedding.
The Wedding Planner
One of the more important items to have clearly defined in your contract with your wedding planner is the description of services provided. Leah Weinberg, owner of Color Pop Events, explains that a couple may be liable for additional costs if they ask their planner to take on tasks that are not covered in the original agreement. You'll also want to have a clear understanding of what the contingency plan will be should your planner not be able to fulfill their duties. "Your contract with the planner should include what happens if your planner gets sick and can't be at the wedding," she says. Although it may be a rare occurrence, it's essential that you know and feel comfortable with the plan in place for such a situation. "There shoulda also be a clause that addresses what happens if a weather event prevents the wedding from happening. It will make sure all parties involved know who is responsible in these situations."
The Rental Company
When it comes to any rental contracts, Heather Ruffe of Atlas Event Rental says that you'll want to check—and then double check—the fine print. Is delivery and pickup an additional fee? Are you able to make changes to your rental order without incurring a penalty? What are the costs associated with items returned broken or damaged? For example, many linen rental companies will charge a fee for tablecloths returned with candle wax—that's a potentially costly and complicated issues if you plan to use taper candles for your reception. Ruffe also says to make sure that you review the list of items you're ordering to ensure the exact quantities and the price per item is what you agreed on.
The Hotel Room Blocks
Whether you're planning a destination wedding, have a number of out-of-town guests, or simply know that guests will want to spend the night locally after the celebration, a hotel room block for guests is essential. But before you agree to a rate for guests, it's especially important to make sure your contract spells out exactly how many rooms will be blocked out for rental by your specific group of guests and when they will need to book by. Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group says that you'll also need to pay attention close attention to the attrition terms. Is there a penalty if your guests don't book all the rooms, or will unbooked rooms be released to the general public at some point before the wedding? Is there a minimum stay requirement? Avey also says to make sure your contract specifies whether transportation to and from the airport is covered within those rates.