We’ve all seen it on social media or read about it on some news website; a bride angry with the caterer, florist, DJ, or photographer from their wedding. The food was cold, the flowers were dying, they forgot to play the predetermined songs at the predetermined times or photographs were not delivered on time. In these cases the brides may win some and lose some. So how do you end up on the win side if something like this happens to you? You get it in writing.
One of the major issues that results in these types of frustrations is that the happy couple didn’t get everything in writing. Your “auntie” has a cake business and she is going to do you a favor and bake your wedding cake for half the price. That’s very generous. You don’t feel you need to be formal with your “auntie” so there is no contract drawn up. You pay for the cake and on your wedding day you find out she has made 3 tiers instead of the 4 you wanted, you cut into your cake and find that all tiers are dummies except for the ones in the cake boxes. You’re upset; and rightfully so but when you get in front of a Judge and she asks “what did the contract say?” You regretfully tell her you didn’t have one.
Why is having a contract so important? Besides laying out what is expected, it gives you recourse if something goes wrong. It also holds all parties involved to the terms of the contract. No matter who the vendor is, a well-established company or someone just starting out, get a contract. The well-established company will expect it and the person starting out won’t mind because they realize that is how business works, and while they are new they are still a business. No one will be offended if you ask for contract and if they are, you should go somewhere else!
What should have been in the contract with your auntie? For starters what kind of cake you are wanting, including fillings. Will there be fondant or only buttercream? How many tiers will the cake be? How many people will the cake serve? What happens if you get the wrong cake? These are just a few of the important items that should go into a contract.
Having a contract does not just apply to the cake it applies to every vendor you plan to work with for your wedding. The bottom line is, get it ALL in writing.
The contract shields both you the couple and the vendor. Here are 5 benefits to using a wedding contract:
- Written Contracts Prevent “He said, She said” Scenarios
Many lawsuits arrive in court because of the lack of understanding between the parties. Many times clients have a vision of what they are to receive than what you have explained in person or over the phone. With a contract, the client is not left to wonder. The details are in black and white. Ultimately, having a contract makes the terms of agreement concrete and less open to the imagination of the client. Certainty of terms leads to greater profitability down the road.
2. Protects the Wedding Professional’s Investment of Time and Money
Let’s face it, despite the grandest of plans and the greatest of romances, there are some couples that get cold feet and decide not to go through with the marriage or have to cancel for reasons beyond their control. This is the nightmare scenario for both the wedding professional and the client! The biggest reason – you don’t have a chance to showcase your creative skills and execute the perfect wedding. The other reason – money. Just because the clients decide not to go through with the wedding doesn’t mean you didn’t make your own sacrifices. You’ve probably already spent countless hours and significant money getting the event ready. Having contract language that protects your money in the event of cancellation is a must.
3. Appear Professional to Your Clients
One of the great myths about business is that successful business people work simply with a handshake. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. Studies indicate that small business contracts are equated with professionalism. Contracts indicate that you’re a person who is willing to stand behind your work. Clients certainly appreciate that.
4. Establishes the Obligations of Both Parties
As a wedding professional, you have certain duties that you must perform. The client has similar obligations – specifically to pay you for services rendered. Having contracts allows each party to know exactly what they need to do, when they need to do it, and how they must do it. Written agreements create certainty of expectation. Having this certainty is especially important because the nature of an event or wedding is chaotic – so give yourself the gift of less stress!
5. Keeps Parties Invested in Each Other
Because you’ve signed a contract with clear payment terms, you know exactly when you should be getting paid and how much. Perhaps you’ll even set milestones with the client. This helps the client feel reassured that you have their best interest at heart because you’re meeting mutually agreed goals. In other words, you both have skin in the game. You retain the certainty of being paid upon completion of certain tasks and by certain dates.
CONTRACTS ARE TOOLS THAT CAN PROTECT YOU, GIVE YOU PEACE OF MIND, AND KEEP YOUR WEDDING DAY RUNNING SMOOTHLY. Don’t be afraid to use them. Just Remember:
- Get it in writing.
- Read Everything.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
- A simple contract is always better than no contract at all!
- Always keep a copy
And though nobody may have ever said it before: happy contracting!
Please note that the information stated above is general legal information and not legal advice. It should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with a legal practitioner.