Signing Your Wedding Contract? 5 Questions to Consider
Oct 25, 2018 | By: Kiss the Planner, Inc.
Questions You Must Ask Before You Sign Any Wedding Contract
It's common to sign wedding contracts without reading the fine print, or asking any questions. But here's why is it important to ask these questions before you sign on the dotted line.
The main reason not to jump the gun is because you really need to have a clear understand of what all the wedding costs will come to, so that you don't mistakenly overspend in one area. Rushing into signing before you have thought the whole budget through means the possibility of leaving yourself without enough money to contract the rest of the items on your list. With less money in the budget remaining, you may likely have no choice but to settle for something less expensive , or worse yet, something that you altogether don't want.
From a legal standpoint, a wedding contract is a binding commitment. If there are any questions on your mind, be sure to express them. Be sure that you are comfortable with both the written terms and the company that is presenting them. While it's unlikely that you will have to go to battle over anything, you are going to want to know what recourse you would have and what would be involved, just in case you do.
Here are some specific questions every couple should ask before signing any wedding contract they may encounter.
Is the deposit refundable?
It's very common for wedding vendors to take a deposit to confirm their availability for your wedding date. If you were to cancel the wedding or decide that you no longer wanted to work with that vendor, you would likely not get your deposit back due to the fact that the vendor potentially turned away business as a result of the commitment that you made to each other. While the clause is a fair one from the vendor's perspective, it is still a good idea to be aware of it before you make that commitment to your vendor because they are doing the same for you. If you had to change the wedding date for some reason, find out if they would be willing to apply that deposit to a different date with or without penalty.
Are you personally going to be at our wedding or are you going to send a substitute? And if so, will we get to meet that substitute before the wedding?
Substituting workers is an acceptable practice in the wedding world, however the important part is to be aware of it in advance, so you don't fret when someone else that you didn't expect suddenly shows up in place of the person that you dealt with, up until that point. This is especially important when it comes to your DJ because they are not only selling their services, but they are also selling their energy and their personality. And as for the coordinator or the photographer, you wouldn't want someone that you don't connect with following you around all day or someone with lesser experience. A florist is likely to send in a team member to set up your wedding decor, but it's important the contact person that you worked with clearly briefed the rest of the team with your specific expectations, should they not be able to be at the installation themselves.
What is the contingency plan for inclement weather?
When it comes to venue rental, be sure that the venue manager can walk you through exactly what would happen should an outdoor wedding need to move inside. You may be planning for 100 or more guests outside on the lawn, but when you move indoors, there's only enough seating space for 75, for example. Have a "worst case scenario" plan, so you won't be caught in a panic when Mother Nature wreaks havoc on your dream plan.
What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding and are there any restrictions to be aware of?
Before you get your heart set on hundreds of tiny lanterns hanging from the trees, or a canopy of flowers over the dance floor, find out what the restrictions are when it comes to attaching decor to the venue walls, ceiling or trees, and how much time they will give you to do so, should they allow it. What a shame it would be if you commissioned a florist to provide you with an elaborate decor package and the venue prevented you from setting it up or there just wasn't enough time to accomplish it.
How do you calculate the service charges?
Before signing the wedding contract ask for a proposal so that you can get a clear estimate of how much everything will cost and by which method they calculate those charges. Some venues charge a service charge on top of the food and beverage costs only, while others charge a service charge on top of everything they provide, including any rentals that they get for you and/or on top of their flat venue, ceremony or room rental fees. In some cases the difference can be pretty substantial. At 18-24% this could add up to thousands of dollars. Before you sign that wedding contract, be sure you are prepared for all these charges so you can plan accordingly. Furthermore, some venues charge tax on top of the service charge and others calculate it only on the tangible items, so having an estimate prior to signing will help eliminate any surprises later down the road.
In summary, go with your gut when you are trying to determine if a vendor is right for you. All the legal advice on the world doesn't compare to your good old fashioned intuition. Most vendors in the wedding business want nothing more than to make you happy and if you put your trust into them, you will get tenfold back.