Is your Contract Wedding Season Ready?
It’s no secret that many weddings have been put on hold over the past couple of years. Between the COVID 19 pandemic and the financial hardships people faced during quarantines and lockdowns, many couples decided to postpone altogether.
But with loosening restrictions in Canada and the US, that’s all predicted to change!
CBC News Canada recently reported that wedding vendors are preparing for a large influx in wedding and event bookings in 2022. After several weddings were canceled or postponed in 2020 and 2021, couples are looking to finally tie the knot and celebrate with their loved ones.
In fact, I'm hearing that some wedding photographers are double and even triple booking their weekends!
All this to say that if you're a service provider in the wedding industry, you better get ready to gear up for a very busy and love-filled 2022!
There's No Better Time than Now to Update your Contract
You know how important I think contracts are for service providers, but if you are a wedding or event planner or provide other types of services such as wedding photography, catering, etc., they are really important. Emotions are running high, budgets often get blown, and you want to ensure you and your business are protected if things don't go according to plan, and you have a clear roadmap of your services both before, during and after the big day.
Here are 7 things important reminders and considerations for your wedding related service contracts:
#1: Get Really Specific about your Services
When listing your services in your contract, be REALLY specific! Vagueness in contracts leads to scope creep and it's really difficult to avoid if your contract is really specific. If you have different packages you offer, review these to ensure they list everything that is included, and common services that are requested, your clients could add as additional services.
Specifically, you might consider including the following in your contract:
- If you're a wedding planner, will you be in charge of reaching out and coordinating vendors, or are you just providing a list to your client for them to reach out?
- Are you or one of your personnel attending the event on the event date? This might not be included in your services, but definitely an important detail to include!
- How many meetings will you provide during the planning phase? Will these be in-person, or over a call?
#2: Meals and Breaks
When it comes to the big day, it’s important to account for meals and taking time to refuel and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the event.
Decide and communicate with the couple if you and your team are expecting to be fed at the event. Industry standards might differ in your area, but something to consider for sure!
If this is an expectation, is should be included in your contract, and also when you expect to be fed so you can plan your Big Day schedule.
#3: Know your Location and Permit
This is a big one! Just like you want your services to be respected, you want to respect the permits and location rules of the venue. Remember, your reputation is also on the line!
Determine who is in charge of what in your contract. Are you allowed to take photographs at the local botanical gardens, or do you need to first advise the venue and get the necessary permit? Check park rules before launching your drones!
I always recommend including language in your contract that states that you will, at all times, respect the rules of the event or shoot location. This protects you and your team and gives you a reference point to confidently say no to such requests from clients, especially on such an excitement-fuelled day, where it's easy to get caught up in the flow.
#4: Make Sure you Get Paid
This one is important because it is how you get paid for your services! It's common practice to collect a non-refundable retainer to 'save the date" in your calendar, but how do you collect payment after that?
Your agreement should answer the following questions:
- Do you collect a non-refundable “save the date” retainer?
- How is this retainer applied to the invoice? Is it clear that this retainer is non-refundable if the client cancels?
- When do you expect the balance of the payment? Do you collect non-refundable payment at regular intervals leading up to the big day?
- Does your fee change if the location or guest count changes (on the understanding that your workload likely changes as a result)?
- If a payment is missed, what happens? Do you have a late fee clause?
#5: Have clear policies around canceling and rescheduling.
If the last two years taught us anything, it's that you need to get really clear on your cancellation and rescheduling policies, especially if you collect a retainer.
Your contract should address questions such as:
- What happens to the retainer if your client cancels or reschedules?
- What happens to any other payments that are due? Is your client still liable for those payments?
- What happens if you need to cancel? Yes - $hit happens and you may wish to provide a game plan for your client in your contract something prevents you from carrying out your obligations.
#6: Address Safe Event Working Conditions
Since wedding services happen in-person, it's important to consider you and your teams safety while on location. Your contract is a great place to set out your event working condition expectations (includiing any new COVID19 requirements). Consider:
- What happens if there is dangerous or inclement weather? Is it clear you won't put your team at risk?
- What COVID compliance guidelines are you requiring your client to ensure they and their attendees comply with?
- Who is responsible for ensuring compliance?
- What other safe working conditions do you require for you and your staff?
#7: Get Insurance
Planning and putting on a wedding requires a lot of time, effort, supplies, and people. Items can be easily damaged. People can get injured while setting up for the event. An attendee can trip over a cord and break their arm.
While these accidents are not fun to discuss, you must be prepared for how you’ll handle them if they do occur.
As a wedding service provider, you're in what I consider a fairly high risk industry, and I highly recommend reaching out to a local insurance broker to ensure you have adequate insurance for you and your team.
As you gear up for what is promising to be a busy wedding season, there is no better time to review your contracts and make sure they set clear policies, manage client expectations, and ultimately are working as hard for your business as you are.
For more tips on navigating the event and wedding planning world during the COVID 19 pandemic, click here to watch my Instagram Live with Jennifer Rose, a Wedding Day Planner.
And if after reading this you're thinking your contract might not include all the clauses you think you need, check out our Event Planner Agreement or reach out to see which legal contract template might be the best fit for your business.