Contracts…..not the most fun or appealing part of Wedding planning hey?! Contracts have been such a huge topic over the last 12 months since the beginning of the pandemic, when actually, they became vitally important! Couples realised they should have actually read them, and suppliers realised they definitely needed them, and needed to add clauses they didn’t have before. We are finding now that contract are longer and more in depth than ever.
Don’t forget, it isn’t just the one contract you will be signing, there will be a contract for every single supplier that you hire, from the florist to the cake maker. So you may find you start to not read them properly because you are on your 10th one! We would also suggest booking a 1-1 with a Wedding planner, it is always helpful to have a 2nd eye (especially an experienced one) read over contracts. Every contract is different and every supplier and venue include different things, so it is vital that you are looking out for the 10 things below.
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1. Wedding Cancellations/postponements – force majeure
If anything, COVID has taught us that ANYTHING can happy at ANY time, you just don’t know what is round the corner. You may think, oh it’s fine, we won’t need to cancel, we won’t need to postpone, then BAM! Global pandemic! Or anything, anything could happy to you in your personal lives. Check what the cancellation policy is. What will you loose if you cancel. What will you owe? You may owe extra costs if the supplier has already purchased items to make whatever you have hired or costs to cover time they have already spent. And don’t think that because you haven’t already parted with that money but have signed the contract that you will get away with it, because they can take you to court, I have seen this happen many times before! Force majeure is a clause that is being spoken about frequently now and is showing up on majority of contracts, covering suppliers and venues to be able to keep their costs during unforeseeable circumstances (COVID!) so make sure you have read up on this, understand it and are happy with it. If not, query it.
2. Wedding venue/supplier payments
When will you owe payments? Does this sit in line with your budget? This is especially important if you plan to save during the period of booking your Wedding and the actual day. How will payments need to be made? What type of payment is it, is it an admin fee? A booking fee? A deposit, make sure you understand the difference, as during COVID, if you paid a deposit, it was able to be refunded to you as a deposit is to secure a date, whereas an admin fee was a fee for the time spent on your booking already, so the supplier/venue were able to keep this. Again, read up on it, understand it and make sure you are happy with it. If not, query it.
3. The time the Wedding venue space or Wedding supplier is available
When are you able to set up? How long will the e=on the day manager you have hired be there on the day? What time is your DJ staying till? Does this then coincide with the venue finish time and the time of anything else you have hired, ie. Dancefloors and LOVE letters? I’ve heard of situations in the past where the DJ has been hired and paid for until 1am, but the venue rules are music until 12:30pm, then the LOVE letter were only hired until 11:30pm, so they were being taken off of the dancefloor while people were in full swing enjoying themselves! Make sure every contract contains timings and that they all correlate to the timings you want your day to be.
This is same with set up too. When will the venue allow you to set up? Will the supplier only attend on the morning or will they come the day before. If you have hired linen, and the florist is coming the day before but the linen isn’t coming until the morning, then the florist will not be able to set up the tables.
4. Feeding Wedding suppliers
It is quite common that you will be required to feed a supplier who is attending the full day, ie. Photographer, videographer. Your DJ or band may also have in their contract that they need to be fed. Check also in your venue/catering contract if you would need to pay extra for these meals or if they are happy to feed them any left over meals (they tend to over caterer!) Also with anyone requiring evening food, check if they are happy to just take from your buffet (if you are also happy for them to do this) and find an area out of space you have, ie. A public bar or outside area to then eat or if they require a separate crew room with certain food – this is quite common for bands. Suppliers may also need feeding at different times to your catering, ie. a planner will be working through the meal so will need something at a different point.
5. Anything you cannot have at your Wedding venue
What is not allowed? It is very common for confetti to not be allowed within the building, and only bio-degradable versions to be used. Some venues also do not allow a naked flame. They may also stipulate that you are only allowed to use their recommended suppliers and caterers – make sure to check through the contract for this information if it hasn’t been discussed before.
6. What the Wedding service includes
As well as timings, what does the actual service or product you are hiring include? For instance, if you are hiring an on the day manager, do they include ceremony services when the ceremony is at a separate venue such as a church? Does the DJ include song request services? Does the décor supplier who you are hiring beautiful candle holders then provide the actual candles? Make sure everything is listed! I have even experienced a situation when the catering company charged extra to cut the wedding cake, the couple didn’t notice this, didn’t pay the extra so didn’t have anyone to cut up their Wedding cake. Thankfully the lady who actually made it was a guest and was happy to do this, and the caterer was nice and let them use their knives!
7. Costs for any extra time required by the Wedding supplier
What if the Wedding overruns? This can happen if there are delays. Will the DJ charge extra? Will the caterer charge extra if the wedding breakfast runs over? What if your on the day manager is needed for longer than you expected? And this isn’t just applicable on the day, it could be that you need more communication than you originally thought. Maybe the stationery needs adjusting, or you need last minute table plan updates, do these come at an extra charge? What if you have hired transport, the ceremony runs over and they need to wait for you? Make sure you have a cost for any extra time required by that supplier and have budgeted for any unexpected costs.
8. How do you need to leave the venue or the Wedding item you have hired?
There will be a particular clean up requirement at your venue, check what this is. Some venues have staff to complete the clean up, whilst others will expect the room to be spotless and may even need you to stack the chairs and tables, so the room is left as you found it. The same with any items you have hired, where should they be left? Maybe it is an item you have hired and need to return it to them, for example a dress, suits or shoes. Make sure you have someone on hand to collect the items up you need to return so they aren’t lost. You won’t want to be doing this yourselves at the end of the night after a few beverages and a long day in heels! For items such as candlesticks, do you need to clean any wax off, or for glassware do they need to be cleaned?
9. Cost of any damage to Wedding items/venue
It’s inevitable, things can get lost, broke, unfortunately even stolen! Not necessarily maliciously but when people get drunk, they do things which they think are a good idea at the time, and then end up with a charger plate or a new set of glasses in their bedroom the next morning which you will then need to pay for. Check what the charges are, and going back to point number 9, if the items or the venue aren’t left as requested in the contract, what happens next.
10. Do they mention the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013?
This is very important clause you may or may not have heard of. This gives you a 14 day cooling off period, so if you do happen to make a big purchase of something on a whim, maybe you booked something at a Wedding fayre in the moment and actually your partner hates it, you then have 14 days to get your money back.
Don’t forget to not jump into just signing a contract, take it away, read it and digest it properly before signing. We know how exciting it can be that you have just found the perfect venue or supplier, but these things are important. If you are newly engaged and have some across this blog as you have just started reaching out to suppliers and venues, don’t forget to download our free PDF on what to do now you are newly engaged here.