Understand everything you're agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.
wedding tablescape
Credit: Eric Kelley

If you're not a lawyer or wedding industry professional, reading through some of your vendor contracts can be difficult and confusing. While some contracts read like they were downloaded straight from the Internet, others have jargon that leaves you feeling like you need to go to a library to study up on contract law. To make things simple, these are the most common red flags found in vendor contracts so you know what you need to watch out for.

Cancellation terms that are one-sided.

Your contract should clearly state what happens if either party cancels, not just if the client cancels. What happens to your deposits? Will the vendor look for a replacement for your event? How quickly will you receive a refund? These details should all be outlined in your contract.

Language that doesn't make any sense.

The purpose of a contract is to spell out, in clear language, what might happen if any number of things goes wrong before, during, or following your wedding events. There are a lot of contract terms you may not be familiar with, so it's important to know that it's okay to ask questions and get clarification directly from your pros regarding anything you don't understand.

No contract, no deal.

If you're working with a vendor who refuses to provide a contract, this is a big red flag. A contract isn't solely meant to protect your vendor if something goes badly, but it should also protect you as the client. Whether your vendor is new to the wedding industry or has been working this way for decades, you should insist on having a contract in place before giving any deposits or taking the process further.

Confusion around what a change in the scope of services means.

It's common for vendors to state in their contract that their rates could change if there's a significant change in the scope of services. This is standard practice, but it's important for you to understand what this means to this particular professional before you sign on. Let's say, for example, you hire a wedding planner to help you organize your wedding for 50 guests in Bali. If you decide after two months that you'd prefer to have a wedding at a local art gallery with 150 guests, that would be considered a big change in scope, which could affect the pricing for your wedding planner and the amount of work they'll need to do. This isn't a red flag, but it's something you should clarify before signing on.

Incorrect information.

Pay special attention to dates, times, names, and locations listed throughout your contract. While this is an easy fix and not necessarily a red flag, incorrect details could cause bigger problems later in the planning process. Be sure everything you're signing off on is correct.


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