Get signed contracts
Whenever you make an agreement or contract with a wedding vendor or anyone else you're paying for a service, you need to put it in writing. For example, if your caterer doesn't show up on the wedding day, but you have your agreement in writing, you will have grounds to take the vendor to court and recover your payments. Take the opportunity to read and understand your contract with your vendor, negotiate the terms you want to have included and generally set your expectations for your wedding clearly in writing:
Here are a few key things to remember with all vendors:
- Vendors often don't save the date of your wedding until you sign a contract (and make a down payment).
- Don't expect the vendor to understand your vision without communicating it to them.
- Your peace of mind is worth the effort of creating a detailed contract.
Some tips for creating contracts with specific vendors:
- Caterers: Your contract with the caterer(s) should include when you want them to arrive and set up, how many waitstaff they should have and alternative dining options in case there's a problem with the menu. The main thing is to account for how you'll deal with caterer if they arrive late, don't show, or deliver subpar service.
- Photographers: You're hiring a photographer for their artistic vision, but you need to communicate your personal vision as well. In the contract, give the photographer a list of the pictures you want, as well as arrival time and provisions for an emergency replacement photographer.
- Florists: Specify the type of flowers, the style and number of the arrangements and the type and number of vases to be provided, as well as a breakdown of the fees. Make sure to include the arrival time, and who is responsible for setting up the flowers.
- Makeup artists and hairstylists: Establish what time you'll do hair and makeup and how many people will have their makeup and hair done, as well as the fees and location. Are they coming to you or are you going to them?
- DJ/Band: Establish an arrival time, length of stay and equipment setup responsibilities (Are they providing the sound system, or is the venue?). You'll also want to include a song list in your contract. Click here for music contracts in detail.
- Dressmaker: Your contract with your dressmaker should include a completion date, any options for emergency tailoring, and the resulting prices. Click here for wedding dress contracts in detail.
- Linen/Rental provider: Include an arrival time, setup responsibilities and specifics about any linen and rental choices you've made.
- Baker: Have your wedding cake baker agree to any cake specifications such as size, flavor, decorations and price, and who provides the extras, like a cake stand or table. Be sure to specify delivery time.
- Venue: Most venues already have standard contracts in place, but this doesn't mean you can't negotiate to get what you want. Go over your specifications to make sure important details are taken care of. Click here for ceremony venue contracts in detail.
You may also want an "indemnification" clause added. An added indemnification clause means that if you get named in a lawsuit against a vendor, the vendor will be responsible for covering your defense, as well as any damages that you may otherwise have been responsible for. Typically, vendors will ask you to indemnify them as well so they are not responsible for your negligence.
Get liability insurance
Often wedding event spaces require you to release them from liability at your event. If someone slips on the dance floor, you'll need to have liability insurance to cover it. Remember that accidents happen even on the best of days, and when there's alcohol involved, accidents are even more likely.
- Take out a rider on your homeowner's policy, or, if you don't own a home, check with renter's insurance carriers and major car insurance companies.
- You can also turn to specialized wedding event insurance companies that cover your investment if the wedding needs to be canceled or rescheduled due to weather, health issues or problems with the venue. While pricey, they often have plans that can be tailored to your needs.
- Consider purchasing add-ons to cover lost or stolen equipment, damaged property or vendor cancellation. Wedding liability insurance covers you from being held personally liable for property damage or bodily injury.