Read the fine print:
Let’s be honest, no matter how organized you are, or how much you have planned for your wedding day, you can’t pull it off on your own. You are going to use a handful of professionals and vendors to bring your dream to life. Being the bride, you are going to visit and meet a handful of vendors before you can pick your dream team: florists, photrographers, venues, videographers, DJs, etc. That can either be really exciting or really daunting. But if I can warn you of one thing, please please for the sake of your wedding day, read the fine print! Every vendor you choose is going to hand you a contract to look over and sign before they agree to do business with you. Every contract that is passed to you is in the interest OF THE VENDOR. Generally, vendors write their own contracts. They set the terms, and you sign on the dotted line. The problem with that is where is the room for negotiation or provisions? I mean, if you want ranunculus to be in your bouquet, you better make sure that that is somewhere in writing before the florists shows up the day-of with peonies. Some of you may be thinking, “the flowers don’t really bother me that much.” Okay, what about music? Do you really want the chicken dance to play during your reception? If not, then make a “Do Not Play List” for your DJ! On your wedding day, every bride wants things to go as smoothly as possible. I mean you just spent months and months or even years planning and going through every detail (or so you thought). Once one thing goes sideways, it can feel as if everything is beginning to fall apart. Being a woman that has way too many wedding books and magazines sitting on my bookshelf at home, I know that your wedding day is going to be one of the biggest days of your life, and you want it to be perfect. I want that too! I want you to look back at your wedding and wish it could happen all over again. If the idea of reading a contract and finding any mishap in there kinda freaks you out, hire a lawyer to look over it, or even a professional wedding planner. That’s their job. They are at YOUR service, not the vendors. Remember, this day is about YOU.
Just as a forewarning, there are a couple of things to keep your eye out for when looking over a vendor’s contract:
- Double and triple check the dates and times on the contract
This is number one simply for the reason that you want to make sure your DJ shows up on the Saturday of your wedding, and not the Saturday the week before. You also don’t want your videographer to be three hours late and miss documenting the ceremony.
- Never EVER sign a contract with a vendor with a clause that prohibits you from reviewing them.
This sends up a red flag for me right off the get-go. If I am in downtown Denver and I want some good Italian food for dinner, but I have no idea where to go, one of the first places I go is Yelp. Reading other people’s opinions and reviews are a great insight to the product and service of any company. So if a vendor does not want you to review them, does that mean that they have a reputation of providing a bad service, and they don’t want the word to get out? If a company thinks they are superb at what they do, which they should if they are in the wedding industry, they should want that to be splattered all over the place! Weddingwire, the Knot, Wedding Spot, their personal website, Yelp. There are some vendors that ask that if you have a negative review that you contact them first and tell them what you disliked about their service before you post it. In that case, some vendors can be great at providing a remedy to fix whatever it was that caused your disapproval. And when you do have a negative review, you absolutely have the right to alert possible clients for that vendor or business. However, even though it may feel good to vent your anger and frustration on the web, stick to the absolute truth about your experience. Defamation of a business of any kind due to incorrect circumstances is a serious matter.
- Pay Attention to Anything Referring to Payments
First of all, be clear on who is paying. Nowadays, paying for a wedding is a group effort, so your contract needs to be specific on who is paying up for the service that will be administered. If your in-laws are going to be paying for the limo service, make it clear! Put their names specifically so it is right there in black and white. You also need to be clear about when and how payments will be made. Does the vendor require a specific amount of payment up front, or do they hand you a bill after they did their job? The last thing you want is to walk into your reception and find out you have no cake because you didn’t know that your baker required a deposit. On a side note, the great thing about deposits is that they can be negotiable! If you aren’t comfortable paying a sixty or seventy percent deposit, then talk to the vendor about your concerns and see if they would be willing to take a fifty percent deposit. And NEVER give pay a hundred perfect up front unless you COMPLETELY trust the vendor (as in your mom or her best friend).
If there is one thing I can say to sum up the entirety of wedding contracts, it is read the fine print and get EVERYTHING in writing. And I mean everything. That is the only way to keep your wedding and all of its details and specificities exactly the way you want them to be.