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Vendor Agreements 101

What should be included in my contract with the photographer? Reception venue? Agreement with the church? Should everything that was agreed upon be included in the contract? Are there any guarantees?

As you begin the process of negotiating with vendors on price, date and time of event, always read between the lines and on the dotted lines of your agreements. Make sure your agreements are comprehensive, include everything that was agreed upon during your conversations, and include any and all "freebies" and "rebates" and the representative of the company that you speak with is authorized to draft, sign and negotiate agreements on behalf of the company.

The basic contents of a contract should include:

  • Client Information: Includes your full name, address and contact information (alternative contact person, i.e., your fiancé or wedding planner), type of event, and date, time and location of wedding. Also provide a map and driving directions if the vendor has to deliver items and is not familiar with the venue.

  • Vendor Information: Includes the name, business address, contact information and emergency name and contact person for the day of the event. Make sure that the name of the vendor that you have selected is indicated in your agreement. For instance, if you like a particular photographer's work and this person is one of many photographers working for a company, make sure that his/her name is indicated as the photographer that will take pictures for you on your wedding day.

  • Services: Outline the nature and description of services that are being provided. This section of the agreement should provide as many details as possible. For example, an agreement with a catering hall would indicate the date, time and type of event, time of cocktail hour and/or reception, type and color of the table linen, napkins, type of utensils, glassware, and color scheme for the event, etc. This section will also include the day of the expected delivery of service. (If you decide on additional services and once the vendor has agreed to same, you can attach such services as an addendum to your contract provided that both parties signatures are included.)

  • Payment Information: Includes deposit information, payment schedule for balance due, form of payments (including form of final payment), and cancellation, postponement and refund policy.

  • Set-up: If you are renting an open space for your reception, you will need to know the first day and time of day when you will have access to the venue for set-up and whether or not the rental company can store items one day prior to the event and can retrieve items the first business day after the event (provided that the items will be safe at the venue). With respect to entertainment, florist, caterer, etc., your agreement with them should specify the date and time that they can come to set-up for their services. It is also in your best interest, especially if the vendors are not familiar with the venue, to schedule a tour prior to your wedding so that they will be able to determine the best scenario to accomplish your vision.

  • Rental Items: If you are renting items, you will need to know the exact time and date for the receipt of the rental items, how they should be returned and the return mailing address. If there is a rebate involved, you will need to know if the rebate is instantaneous (upon receipt of their rental item, you are given your rebate) or if you have to wait a period of time to receive such rebate.

  • Deadlines: Deadlines in the contract should be specified. You need to know the last day you can give the guaranteed number of guests to your vendors and the last day for payment, cancellation of agreement, etc.

The aforementioned items should be included in your agreements with all vendors, however, they are not inclusive. The items listed in your agreements are exclusive to the type of wedding that you are having. The more complex and detailed your wedding is, the more detailed your agreement should be. Remember, if the price sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If the vendor does not want to give you his license number or proof of insurance, find another vendor. If the vendor is reluctant to meet with you or to entertain your questions, find a friendlier more receptive vendor. If you find a vendor that is a bit more expensive but you have a good rapport with them and you like their work product, spend the extra money for a peace of mind.

There are no guarantees in life; however, if you work with reputable vendors and you feel comfortable with what the vendor has to offer and both parties are satisfied with their contract, there is a likelihood that the preparation and day of activities for your wedding will be designed especially for you.

Written By: Ms. Tye Robertson, a Certified Wedding Specialist, is the owner of Especially For You Planners, LLC, a party, wedding and event planning company.

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