Wedding Contracts Tips

The purpose of a wedding is to commemorate a joyous event with friends and family, but planning the event is a business endeavour. You pay others to provide goods and services, and just like in a business, there’s a lot of management involved and wedding contracts to read. Recent times have taught everyone to expect the unexpected, and although in the UK weddings are allowed again, most couples will continue to have niggles and doubts of cancellations beyond their control.

In order to successfully plan your wedding, a number of things must go right, so plan ahead for major elements. Some things you can’t control, like the weather, or your ring bearer’s ability to stand still. Other things, like what time the caterer arrives, are within your power.

Here are some tips for limiting potentially problematic variables:

Get signed contracts and read the terms and understand the cancellation policy

Whenever you make an agreement or contract with a wedding vendor or anyone else you’re paying for a service, you need to put it in writing. For example, if your caterer doesn’t show up on the wedding day, but you have your agreement in writing, you will have grounds to take the vendor to court and recover your payments. Take the opportunity to read and understand your contract with your vendor, negotiate the terms you want to have included and generally set your expectations for your wedding clearly in writing:

Here are a few key things to remember with all vendors:

  • Vendors often don’t save the date of your wedding until you sign a contract (and make a down payment).
  • Don’t expect the vendor to understand your vision without communicating it to them.
  • Your peace of mind is worth the effort of creating a detailed contract.
  • Make sure force majeure cancellations are adequately covered

Not all vendors will have their own contract forms, especially if they are a new or small business. You can create contracts from scratch by modelling them off of existing contracts or can create contracts tailored to your situation and needs using services. Once you’ve created these contracts, be sure to keep them organized and carefully stored for security and easy access, so that you can refer to them whenever you need to.

Some tips for creating contracts with specific vendors:

  • Caterers: Your contract with the caterer(s) should include when you want them to arrive and set up, how many waitstaff they should have and alternative dining options in case there’s a problem with the menu. The main thing is to account for how you’ll deal with the caterer if they arrive late, don’t show, or deliver subpar service.
  • Photographers: You’re hiring a photographer for their artistic vision, but you need to communicate your personal vision as well. In the contract, give the photographer a list of the pictures you want, as well as arrival time and provisions for an emergency replacement photographer.
  • Florists: Specify the type of flowers, the style and number of the arrangements and the type and number of vases to be provided, as well as a breakdown of the fees. Make sure to include the arrival time, and who is responsible for setting up the flowers.
  • Makeup artists and hairstylists: Establish what time you’ll do hair and makeup and how many people will have their makeup and hair done, as well as the fees and location. Are they coming to you or are you going to them?
  • DJ/Band: Establish an arrival time, length of stay and equipment setup responsibilities (Are they providing the sound system, or is the venue?). You’ll also want to include a song list in your contract.
  • Dressmaker: Your contract with your dressmaker should include a completion date, any options for emergency tailoring, and the resulting prices.
  • Linen/Rental provider: Include an arrival time, set up responsibilities and specifics about any linen and rental choices you’ve made.
  • Baker: Have your wedding cake baker agree to any cake specifications such as size, flavour, decorations and price, and who provides the extras, like a cake stand or table. Be sure to specify a delivery time.
  • Venue: Most venues already have standard contracts in place, but this doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate to get what you want. Go over your specifications to make sure important details are taken care of.

Some venues require all vendors to carry liability insurance policies as well. For professional vendors, this shouldn’t be a problem. It’s more likely to become an issue if you hire nonprofessionals (e.g., your cousin the DJ), in which case they’ll probably have to sign a release of liability. Typically, you should not be asked to sign anything on behalf of your vendors. Regardless of the venue’s contractual desires, you’ll want to include a “hold harmless” clause in each of your vendor contracts. This releases you from responsibility for the vendor’s negligence.

You may also want an “indemnification” clause added. An added indemnification clause means that if you get named in a lawsuit against a vendor, the vendor will be responsible for covering your defence, as well as any damages that you may otherwise have been responsible for. Typically, vendors will ask you to indemnify them as well so they are not responsible for your negligence.

Look at liability insurance

Often wedding event spaces require you to release them from liability at your event. If someone slips on the dance floor, you’ll need to have liability insurance to cover it. Remember that accidents happen even on the best of days, and when there’s alcohol involved, accidents are even more likely.

  • Take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy, or, if you don’t own a home, check with renter’s insurance carriers and major car insurance companies.
  • You can also turn to specialized wedding event insurance companies that cover your investment if the wedding needs to be cancelled or rescheduled due to weather, health issues or problems with the venue. While pricey, they often have plans that can be tailored to your needs.
  • Consider purchasing add-ons to cover lost or stolen equipment, damaged property or vendor cancellation. Wedding liability insurance covers you from being held personally liable for property damage or bodily injury.

Considering that the average wedding costs as much as a down payment on a house, having contracts in place and insurance to back them up is a no-brainer. If you can be business-minded leading up to the wedding, you can rest assured your bases are covered come the big day. This way, instead of focusing on logistics, you can focus on family, friends and your first big day with your spouse.

Is Wedding Insurance worth getting?

A wedding insurance policy will cover loss or damage due to things like fire damage to the wedding dress, lost rings. the venue cancelling, or a supplier letting you down. Different policies will have different coverage so ensure you know what is covered.

There are plenty of reports of insurance not covering weddings for coronavirus cancellations and pushing couples back to the suppliers. For new policies, details should be clear on what is covered.

What is force majeure?

This is when unforeseeable circumstances prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. This is not the same as Act of God which references only natural events, although force majeure covers both natural and human intervention.

What happens if your wedding is cancelled?

Firstly if you have insurance check to see what is covered as this will save a lot of time and energy. It may be a case that they will fully cover you or only the loss of a supplier refund.

Are you entitled to a full refund if the supplier is unable to provide the service?

If a supplier is unable to fulfil the contract then it is a case of goods and services not received. For weddings in 2020 the rules are clear, the consumer should be offered a full refund under the frustrated contracts act, regardless of terms and conditions, non-refundable deposits or advance payments. Where it gets sticky is expenses and time spent before that time, which the CMA say is case dependant but either way proof of expenses would be needed.

This would undoubtedly be the case for weddings in the future if the same occurrence happens.