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Wedding contracts can become a blur, especially if you're signing a lot of them. If you don't have a a professional planner reviewing everything for you, you might miss some things that are "red flags" to those who regularly work in the wedding business. Here are five really important things to watch for in every wedding-vendor contract:
1. Never sign a contract with a vendor who has a clause that prohibits you from reviewing them after the wedding.
As a client, you have a right to give your opinion on a vendor's services on Wedding Wire or wherever else unless you sign something saying you won't. Why would a vendor not want reviews? Probably because they've had a lot of bad ones in the past. Look for publicly-posted reviews on any vendor before you consider hiring them.
2. Pay careful attention to the minimum number of guests required in order for the vendor to honor the pricing offered in the contract.
If you've estimated 125 guests and the venue has listed 100 as your minimum, you're in trouble if your acceptances come in at only 80 guests. That contract means they only have to honor the prices offered with 100 guests and in some cases it can require you to pay for the 20 that aren't even there. Get the lowest minimum number on that contract that you possibly can.
3. Double and triple-check the dates and times on the contracts.
It's easy to miss a small numerical error, but if the error happens to commit them to your wedding on Sunday instead of Saturday. Many vendors have multiple wedding clients in one day but some cannot. A florist or pastry chef can certainly deliver successfully to more than one venue. But you have to establish that delivery time early to make sure they're actually blocked for when you need them on your wedding day. You don't want the cake being set up in the middle of cocktails.
4. Be wary of vendors with extreme cancellation policies.
It's not uncommon for initial wedding deposits to be non-refundable, but some contracts require full payment if the wedding is cancelled less than 90 days prior to the wedding date. That's a lot of money when they have three-month's notice to book a new client. Sixty days is more appropriate and some are much more lenient.
5. Make sure the details of your order are perfect on the contract before you sign it.
If you told the florist yellow, and she wrote white, and you didn't notice and signed the contract, you're going to get white and it won't be her fault. She's not going to look at your flower order again until a couple weeks prior to the wedding date, and she's not going to remember your conversation or notice her mistake at that point because you approved it the way it was written.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.