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Contracts Decoded

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of contracts that you’ve had to read while researching, vetting, and finding your wedding vendors? Each vendor has their own set of rules that are included in contract form when you wish to book with them for their protection and yours. Before signing a contract of any sort, you should read through it and feel completely comfortable with signing it. If you have any doubts or hesitations, it is best to speak to that vendor and ask them to explain what something means. Don’t sign a contract until you are sure you feel comfortable and agree with what you’re signing.

Although contracts can be annoying and tedious to read, they truly are for the protection of both the vendor and the client. Vendors have to protect their businesses in case something were to go wrong for any reason. Vendors also generally have items included in their contracts that are to protect their clients as well. They include exactly what was agreed to and exactly what to expect while working with each other. Without a contract, a vendor or client can come back and say that something was included that wasn’t or vice versa.

Let’s get into exactly what should be included in a contract and what to look out for!

Scope of Services

A scope of services should always be specified to go along with the package that you chose. A contract should list all of the services agreed upon that the vendor will do for the client. It should list the agreed upon package, exact items, and pricing. It is likely that if your wedding plans change significantly, the contract will have to be reevaluated. A significant change of plans often results in more work for the vendor so pricing may change accordingly.

Damaged Goods

Understanding the damaged goods section of a contract is extremely important, especially when dealing with rentals. The verbiage can sometimes be difficult to understand so make sure to read it thoroughly and/or ask the vendor to explain what they mean. Things such as spilled food or drink on a table cloth should not be a damaged good because that is bound to happen. You want to ensure that simple items or things that are bound to get dirty aren’t included in the damaged goods clause. You also want to make sure you know the cost if things were to be damaged. It may be worth finding a different company or getting event insurance if that risk is high.

Event Cancellation

Cancellation is one of the trickiest when it comes to weddings. Each vendor generally has different rules for cancellation based off of when the cancellation happens and how much work has already gone into the planning and preparation of the event. A contract should CLEARLY state which deposits/payments are refundable versus when they aren’t. While some vendor will allow a cancellation and refund of some money, others might even suggest a credit to be applied toward future events. It is important to know when reading a cancellation clause, that it is there for a reason. Your vendors are going to be putting work towards your day for months if not years and their time has to be worth something no matter what happens.

Hotel Attrition Rates

Often times for weddings, the hosts block off a bunch of hotel rooms for their guests to book during their wedding weekend. Most hotels will gladly do room blocks however most also include attrition rates. Attrition rates are a balance that is due by the hosts who blocked off the rooms if those rooms aren’t booked by a certain date. A hotel is essentially keeping rooms set aside for your guests to be able to get hotel rooms in the same place and on the same floor so if they aren’t booked then they are losing money. They could have booked those rooms to somebody else and that is why they generally include an attrition rate. To avoid attrition rates, be sure to give your guests a hard cut off and be on top of them to book their rooms ASAP. Be sure when blocking off rooms, that you understand if there is attrition rates and how much they are.

Force Majeure

Force majeure is a term that covers unforeseen emergencies. This can be anything from a natural disaster to a medical emergency or even something tragic that could cause one or both parties to cancel their services in the agreed upon contract. You want to be sure to truly understand the verbiage of force majeure in each contract. This policy should protect both parties mutually and should not leave one or the other party completely helpless.

Failure to Comply Clause

A failure to comply clause is sometimes included in contracts, and in fact should be. A failure to comply clause states that if for some reason a vendor has to invoke force majeure, they will do their best to aid in finding the client a new vendor in the same area, return the deposit, and give as much notice as possible. Failure to comply clauses are often found in photography contracts as it can be extremely difficult to find a new photographer so quickly.

Indemnity and Hold Harmless

Indemnity clauses are ways for vendors or venues to dictate responsibility in case something goes wrong. Indemnity clauses are often paired with hold harmless agreements meaning that if something happens you won’t hold the contractor liable. An example would be somebody slipping on the dance floor at the reception venue and the venue not being liable. There is more likely than not, a clause in the venue contract stating that they are not liable for people, property, or equipment that have been hurt or damaged on their property. If you don’t understand the wording or you have questions about their indemnity clause or hold harmless agreements, then just be sure to ask.

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