Before you go on a gleeful spree hiring the wedding venue, photographer, florist and planner to make your wedding a smashing success, there is one thing you need to know inside and out: the almighty vendor contract. Before you sign the dotted line and lay down a deposit, have a glance at our handy guide on what to look out for when reading those crucial papers…

Firm up the basics
Every contract needs to cover these essentials in order for the big day to be as hitch-free as possible:

  • The date and time of the wedding
  • The date and time of all services to be carried out
  • The vendor’s fee and breakdown of the costs and services provided
  • The terms of payment
  • The name and contact details of all parties
  • Back-up plans and the preferred alternatives (in case any items you desire become unavailable)

Make sure to triple check these vital bits before signing off. You wouldn’t want the florists to deliver their fresh blooms to the venue on the wrong day, or the caterers to miss out on your carefully chosen dessert. Plus, with so many details to keep sight of during the big day, having everything penned in black and white means you won’t have to sweat over remembering what was agreed on.

Check the refund policy
Another important part of the contract, the refund policy comes into play if you or the vendor decides to cancel the arrangements down the road. Figure out how soon before the wedding you’re allowed to cancel (e.g up to 90 days), how much of a refund you’re entitled to within that period, and what sort of penalty the vendor will have to pay if they need to back out. Refund clauses can come with plenty of complicated conditions, so take the time to understand each fully before going forward. Also bear in mind that negotiating refund policies is an uphill battle – vendors do need to protect their business after all.

Go through the terms with a fine-tooth comb
A written contract trumps a verbal agreement every time, which is why it’s worth taking the time to have everything spelt out to your understanding. Read each sentence carefully – if you’re unsure or doubtful about any part, ask the vendor to explain. You should be able to modify the language if needed, and don’t be afraid to scribble down notes either! This is a time when it pays to be a stickler for accuracy.

Pay attention to signatures
Legally, whoever signs the contract is ultimately accountable for the services and (usually) the payment. If your parents or any other party have offered to foot the bill for something, be sure to gather the signatures accordingly.

Keep copies and records of everything
Always have your own copy of the signed contract to refer to, in case of any tiffs that might arise. Conscientiously saving receipts from any expenditure, from your dress to the custom photobooth props, helps too – not only to stay on top of the budget, but also to have a safety net if something isn’t up to par.