Ask the Experts: Signing Contracts with Vendors

by Marta
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Welcome to our Ask the Experts Series. Each week we’ll feature a question from a reader and a variety of answers from our amazing panel of expert wedding vendors. Vendors’ answers may have been edited for space reasons, so if you want more detail, contact the vendors directly through their OneWed listing!

If you have a question for our panel of experts write AsktheExperts@onewed.com.

Dear OneWed Experts,
My fiancé and I are getting married next year and have not signed any contracts yet. Within the next week we plan to sign our contract for the reception location. Do you have any suggestions on things to look for/beware of/keep in mind/ask for when signing this or other wedding vendor contracts? I am concerned that I may look over specific details that I should have mentioned or asked to be put into the contract or other general legal specifications that I may overlook.

Signed,
Allison

From Mark of Video Magic Productions:
Dealing with contracts should not be something that makes you sweat, but certainly this is an important topic for you to understand. When shopping for your wedding vendors, you'll find that everyone will have different stipulations in their contract. Whether it's a banquet hall, florist, videographer or the like, make sure to read between the lines before signing and don't feel rushed. If someone is offering you an incentive for booking on the spot, it usually indicates some desperation. Ask them if you can review the contract for a day or two and take note of questions that arise from your review. Some of the most important topics to look for in a wedding contract deal with postponement or cancelation of the wedding. What happens to your reservation fee and future invoices under these circumstances? Does it fall in line with what is standard in the industry? Keep in mind however that most wedding vendors do require full payment for their services before or by the wedding date.

From Makeup Artist Miriam B.:
Just make sure that everything that you would like to have is clearly stated and included in any wedding packages that you purchase (e.g. make sure that if you want eyelashes, your contract with the makeup artist states that).

But, don't worry! Most professional event venues and vendors are always willing to help you and work with each other to make everything run smoothly.

From Brandi of All Events Planned:
What does end time mean for your reception?
More specifically, do you have to be out of the facility at this time or do you just have to end your event at this time? Confusion here could end up costing you additional room rental charges.

What is included in the cost of the rental of your reception location?
Just because you see tables, chairs and linens when you view the site that does not mean that they are included when you rent, there may be an additional charge for these items. On the other hand, it is good to check this to find out if they include any basic centerpieces or votives, as this will save you money when working with your florist.

What are the charges for cleanup/trash removal?
Receptions tend to be busy, loud and messy events so you will want to make sure you have cleanup covered. Their staff typically does it but some places will expect you to do some of the cleanup or to remove some of the items/décor. You will also want to consider this when asking the end time, as they may only have staff available until a certain time for cleanup.

What else will be booked that week/weekend?
If you are having your reception at a hotel, you may want to see if any large conferences or vendor shows are being held while your wedding will be in progress. In addition, any facility associated with outdoor areas may have sporting events, concerts or family activities that will interfere with parking as well as crowd control. This will be very important to your event because large events during your event will be a distraction. Just as well, you will want to ask what will be booked the night before, or even the day of your event. If the facility cannot clear out the room until 1pm and your reception begins at 4pm, you may want to reconsider.

Do you have to use their preferred vendors or can you choose your own?

What items can be removed or changed from the facility?

Who is the contact person for the contract?
Will they be there that evening or will someone be put in charge of your event? You will want to meet all the people that are planning to being involved in your reception.

Most important after reviewing all of these items is to GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Do not get swept up in the moment! If the catering manager agrees to any of your request, no matter how small they seem, have him/her include those details in the contract. More times than I can count, a bride will swear that someone promised her she could have Item X at her reception, only to be told on her wedding day they have a strict no Item X policy.

About this column’s experts:
Miriam Behar is a bridal makeup artist, hair stylist & Xtreme lash stylist in Miami, FL. She has 10 years of experience as a licensed beauty professional.

Brandi Hamerstone is the owner & senior wedding planner for All Events Planned. In her nine years of experience in the wedding industry, she has planned over 300 weddings.

Mark Salloum is the owner of VideoMagic Productions based in Canton, MIchigan. He has traveled the country producing weddings for nearly 2 decades while earning countless awards for the quality and creativity of his cutting-edge wedding movies.