Tying the Knot

{tying the knot in style} Contracts 101

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By: Andrinique of Andrinique Special Events

Contracts are a must when it comes to planning a wedding. But before you opt to “run off an elope” remember that they are as much for your protection, as they are for your wedding professional.

Retainer vs. Deposit: What’s the difference? A deposit, in legal terms, refers only to goods, products, i.e. tangible items. A retainer covers services and products. In most cases, when dealing with a service based wedding professional (photographer, videographer, wedding planner, etc…) retainer is the more appropriate term, as you are first and foremost securing their services for the day of the wedding. Products and other items are typically considered a secondary part of the contract and can be paid as part of a package, or individually depending on how your wedding professional chooses to do business.

Non-refundable retainer/deposit: Wedding professionals (the honest ones) are not “out to get you” when it comes to this clause. In the event that you have to cancel or postpone the event, the non-refundable portion of the contract is meant to compensate them for their time and efforts thus far, and more importantly, for the possible loss of the balance of the contract, and/or the loss of booking another event on the specified day. Chances are several other couples inquired about your wedding date after you secured it, so that wedding professional turned away other full-paying jobs. Some of them have a clause that states that they may offer a refund if they can re-book the date, but this is more of a courtesy than a guarantee in most cases.

Overlap of services, or the “No other professionals” clause: You might see a line in the contract that states that your photographer (or videographer, planner, etc) is the exclusive professional hired for this event and no other professional may take pictures, video the event, etc… First of all, this does not normally apply to family & friends but depending on how your hired professional operates, it might – so it is always best to ask. 

Vendor meal: Yes, some wedding professionals put this in their contract, we do and our preferred vendors do as well.  If you were working a 10 + hour day on your feet, you would likely expect to be fed too. They often specify a “Vendor ” meal because they want to ensure that they receive something of good quality. No offense to the majority of wedding venues out there – many are known for taking very good care of other wedding professionals, but we have all run into a few that serve you a day old sandwich and a warm bottle of water. And there are other venues where you are lucky to be served anything at all. This is why many wedding pros make it a point to add this to their contract. This is to ensure that we can get through the day without fainting from hunger and exhaustion!

Who signs it: It is very important to be clear about who the responsible parties are when signing contracts. We specify in our contract that we are obligated only to the bride and groom, regardless of who pays the retainer, balance and/or full amount. It’s not that we don’t want to honor and respect your parent’s wishes, but we have to draw the line somewhere and make it so we are only answering to the two people who are getting married. Ultimately we are most concerned with your happiness and what you want for your day. We have all heard about the drama that can ensue when there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” – this is simply a way of trying to avoid that possible stress.

It is very important to read your contracts carefully, and ask lots of questions! Your professional should be more than willing to listen to and address your concerns.

Categories: Tying the Knot.

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