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Planning a wedding is an exciting time. While much of your big day is filled with emotions, there’s a lot of paperwork behind it. When else in your personal life have you hired so many vendors or put down so many deposits?! We get that no one wants to be bogged down by boring details, but reading those contracts can have a considerable impact on how your wedding day goes.


Don’t Skip Contracts, Get it All in Writing.

Even if the caterer is a friend of your parents you should still get everything in writing. This helps protect both parties and makes sure everyone is on the same page. The last thing you want if something goes wrong is to not have any formal agreement on file. It always helps to reference this document.

Once you have everything in writing, don’t stop there. Make a copy of executed agreements, and if any amendments are made down the line, request a document that includes the edits with new dates and signatures from both parties. Don’t make the mistake of thinking an email or text will do in place of a contract. Without written acknowledgment that your vendor agrees to your changes, they could always claim it was requested but never agreed to.

At JRays Event Planning (, we send a copy to the client that they review and sign. It is then sent back to us and we sign the contract as well.  A copy is then sent to both parties with the two signatures.  If anything changes we do it again.  We always check to ensure the client has their copy with BOTH signatures.


Every Contract Should List These Details.

Look over the initial contract before you sign to make sure it includes these essential details at a minimum:

  • Names of those involved in the agreement, including a day-of contact

  • Date, time, and location of your wedding

  • When and where your vendors should set-up and breakdown

  • Deposits and payment schedule (check if they are refundable)

  • A detailed description of the scope of services being provided

  • Substitutions and backup plans in case of rain, etc.

  • Cancellation and termination policies

  • Copy of your vendor’s wedding liability insurance (check if your venue needs to be added as an additional insured)


If you spoke to your florist about using specific flowers and colors, and will not accept any substitutions, make sure that is written there. You want to be confident that everything you discussed regarding the services you are expecting is clearly laid out in your contract. If fees or additional charges are mentioned, make sure you understand them fully and agree to them. Speak up if something is unclear to you.

Let’s say you’ve hired a live band and prefer one of their lead vocalists; your contract should state the vocalist’s name as the person who will be at your wedding. Be on the lookout for a failure to comply or substitution clause. You’ll want to know what happens if that person gets sick or has an emergency on your wedding day. Will you get money back, or will someone of an equal skill level perform instead?


Mark Down Payment Schedules and Ask Questions.

Most vendors will request a deposit to hold your wedding date for their services. Make sure you understand if this is a refundable deposit or not. Find out what happens if your wedding is rescheduled. Will the deposit be applied toward your new date? Most vendors will charge a ‘Hold the Date’ fee that applies to your overall fee, but is Non-Refundable. 

Discuss the acceptable payment methods with your vendors, make sure the timeline is clearly written, and find out what form of refund is available should you need to exercise that action. It’s best not to assume anything when it comes to payments and ask as many questions as you need to.

You’ll want to pay for as much as possible with a credit card offering further protections and recourse in case of any problems. If someone is asking for wire transfers or cash only, that is a major red flag. Even payments via Zelle or Venmo leave you with little recourse if something goes wrong, so keep this in mind before handing over your deposit.


Review the Termination and Cancellation Policies Carefully.

Typically, there is a timeline of corresponding percentages of your deposit that you’ll get back if you have to cancel. As it gets closer to the wedding, this refundable portion is likely to decrease significantly. Many venues and vendors also require written cancellation notices within a specific timeframe. Be sure you fully understand this portion of the contract and agree to it before signing. Also, check it over for any rescheduling fees or cancellation penalties.

Cancellation and termination clauses are often confused but actually serve different functions. If you are unhappy with your vendor or they have breached the terms of your contract, your termination clause can kick in to help you get out of the contract and find another vendor. This section usually includes language describing the steps to take if either party wants to nullify the contract. Be sure this section expressly states what happens to any payments if the agreement is terminated, along with how and when a refund will be issued.

Keep an Eye Out for These Additional Provisions:

Indemnification and Liability Waivers

Keep an eye on this provision, which is becoming more and more standard. Often this language will say that you indemnify vendors and waive any damages. In other words, you’re responsible if a guest or other party sues the vendor, and you won’t sue them if something goes wrong on your wedding day. This is another section to pay extra attention to; you’ll likely want to amend this, so you retain the right to sue if a problem is due to their negligence.

Travel Fees

If your vendor is from another city or county they may very well charge you a travel fee.  It may be a flat fee or per mile.  These fees can become very costly so if your vendor is from out of town pay attention to this.


Damaged Goods

This provision typically spells out what is considered a damaged good when it comes to wedding rentals. For example, you want to be sure crumbs or wax candle drippings are not considered damage to linens because these are likely occurrences. If your rental company is too strict with this provision, consider going elsewhere or looking into insurance as a backup.


Keep these points in mind when looking over your next wedding contract, and do not be afraid to speak up and ask questions. If something makes you uncomfortable, talk to your vendors and work to amend the agreement so it looks out for your interests as well as your vendors. This is your big day, and you want to entrust a team that can work with you to meet your vision.

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