Standard Contract Elements for Wedding Planners

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If you don't have a signed contract, you don't have a client.

It sounds simple enough, but I am continually amazed at the number of wedding consultants who conduct business on nothing more than a promise and a handshake. This feel-good and foolish method may work for a while, but in a litigious society it will come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

Contracts will vary depending on the market you serve and the type of planning you do, and I strongly recommend consulting an attorney regarding your contract. There are some standard elements that should be included in all wedding planning contracts, however. Here are a few:

*Your company name
*The names of the bride and groom (check with your attorney for specifics on your situation, but generally your contract is between you and the bride and groom, regardless of who is paying the bill).
*The date the contract is drawn up
*The date and time of the wedding
*The location of the wedding
*Contact information for the bride and groom
*Compensation policies, including the conditions of payment (retainer amount, due dates, etc), and the total fees.
*Your terms, which include your company's role, restrictions and conditions, liability, legal policies, etc.
*Your cancellation policy (What happens if you cancel? What happens if the client cancels? It happens, even to the best planners. Make sure you're sufficiently covered.)
*A Force Majeure clause protecting you from Acts of God and natural disasters.
*Description of services included for the specific contract (this can be included as an addendum or "Appendix A").
*Signatures of the people involved and the date they are signing.

It is better for a contract to be "too long" than too short and fail to cover what it needs to. Don't cut important clauses that protect you or your clients in an attempt to limit everything to a certain number of pages.

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