Nailing down all your wedding details protects both you and your vendors so there are no misunderstandings that result in cross-accusations after the wedding.
- First, get everything in writing.
- Second, carefully read every word that’s written.
“You should have a written contract for every vendor” says Shealyn Angus, a wedding planner at Bliss in Toronto. “Absolutely no exceptions, whether it’s a huge company or a friend who is agreeing to DJ for you.” Shealyn says that most vendors have contracts at the ready but there are no set standards in the wedding industry, and so no contract is ‘standard’. Hence, the importance of carefully reading the contracts from start to finish.
These contracts are not overwhelming and the language should be straightforward. But it is important that you ask your own questions, and get the answers added to the contract. If you have every detail specifically written down and signed by both parties – everything from the number, favour, and order of layers in your wedding cake, to the date of your wedding, it eliminates any surprises and gives you legal recourse if something should go wrong.
Here are some examples of questions to ask three of your vendors. Make sure the answers to your questions are mutually agreed upon and in writing, before you – and they – sign on the dotted line.
- Is there a rental fee for the space?
- How much is required for the deposit and when is it due?
- Does the venue provide all tables, chairs, linens, dishes, silverware and glassware, or will any of this need to be rented?
- What is the cancellation policy?
- Are there noise restrictions of any kind, and what time do they kick in?
- Is there a time restriction on having to end the reception?
- What happens in the event of rain if it is an outdoor ceremony?
- What specific room will your reception be in, and how long do you have the space (including set-up and take-down time, if necessary)?
- Is there a “responsibility” clause (ie: who is liable if a guest leaves intoxicated)?
- Does the venue have liability insurance if someone should get injured while at your wedding?
- What about parking?
- What are the options for handling the bar?
- How many servers are provided?
- Can things be moved around the space, or decorations brought in? And when?
- What about take-down time?
Musicians or DJ
- How many hours are covered? Is set-up/tear-down time included in the time quote?
- What is the cost if the reception goes overtime?
- What happens if a specific member of the band (a lead singer, for example) needs to cancel?
- Can your list of specific songs be used?
- Do they have other gigs on the same day?
- Do they provide music during their breaks?
For all vendors, ask about delivery fees, set-up fees, overtime fees and any other charges not covered in the quote. And see that the date, time and location of your wedding are on every contract.
- Who owns the photographs? (About 95 per cent of photographers have clauses that say they own your wedding photographs, says Shealyn).
- If they own the images, can they publish them without your consent?
- How long will the photographer be there? If the wedding runs late, or you want to add additional hours, how much will it cost per hour?
- Do they carry back–up cameras in case something goes wrong with their equipment?
- Will they work with your list of specific shots?
- What is the turnaround time a er the wedding to see the images?
- Do you have the option of buying all the shots?
- Is there a back-up photographer if he/she is ill?
- Are you protected against them getting a bigger wedding and ‘selling’ your contract to another photographer?
Originally published in Today’s Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2015.