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Be your own lawyer: How to review your supplier contracts – a general guide

Before we begin, it is important to stress how important it is for you to make sure there is a contract in place between you and your wedding supplier. Irrespective of how well you may know your supplier, a written agreement is crucial as it will ensure both you and your supplier are clear on the obligations that need to be met prior, during and after the big day.

It is advisable to insist on a contract being given to you and to ensure you understand each of the terms before signing it. Once you have signed the contract, make sure you keep all your supplier contracts somewhere safe, so you can refer to it should you need to.

4 important things to look out for before signing a contract:

Contracts will vary depending on who the supplier is. However, here are our recommendations on what to look out for prior to signing a contract:

  1. Length of the contract – contracts vary in length depending on the services being supplied. Whilst there is no general rule as to how long a contract should be, if you are given a contract that is no longer than a page or two, particularly where the value of the contract is considerable (i.e. the price you are paying for the services), carefully check to ensure there is nothing of real importance left out.
  1. When reading the contract, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are the names of the parties correct?
  • Is the venue(s) and date(s) correct?
  • Has the supplier listed in sufficient detail exactly what services they will be supplying?
  • Is there clear guidance as to what time the supplier should arrive and finish?
  • Does the contract state who will be the point of contact in the provision of the services and if so, what the best contact number is for the point of contact?
  • Has the supplier clearly stated how much the total amount will be for the services? If so, does the price include VAT?
  • Is there clear guidance as to when the deposits and balance of payment is due? Quite often, there will be an option to pay in instalments, if this is the case, are you sure you can pay on the dates provided?
  • Is there guidance as to what the penalties are if the wedding day overruns and doesn’t comply with agreed timings?
  • Is there guidance on what happens in the event of you having to cancel the booking?
  • If your wedding supplier is attending the ceremony or reception, have they stipulated any requirements they may require on the day? E.g. a meal, certain number of rest breaks, accommodation. If so, are you in a position to make provision for this?
  • Is there a provision for what happens in the event of your chosen supplier not being able to attend your event? Can the supplier substitute the services? If so, would the substitution be to someone of the same or higher quality?
  • Is there a requirement that you carry out a wedding insurance in the event of cancellation?
  1. Cancellation issues

There are times when due to unforeseen circumstances wedding days have to be cancelled. A well drafted supply contract should include guidance as to what happens in the event of cancellation and what the financial implications are for both the consumer and supplier. In other words, what refund will you receive if you cancel and what penalty the supplier will pay if they cancel. Quite often, the closer the cancellation is to the date of the wedding, the less of a refund you are likely to receive. Similarly, it is important to be clear on what the supplier will give you if they cancel. Unfortunately some supplier contracts leave fail to mention what will happen in the event of them cancelling, therefore, it is important you check this before signing.

4.    If you are not clear, do not commit

Contracts are there to protect you as a consumer but are also there to protect the business interests of the wedding supplier. Therefore, it is just as important that you are able to meet each of the contractual obligations as it is for your supplier. Before signing the supplier contract, ensure you can meet each of your obligations. If you feel, you need more information or clarity about your obligations, you are encouraged to obtain these first before signing anything. For example, prior to signing a catering contract, you may need to obtain information about the venue (e.g. the kitchen specification or loading points). Ensure you have all the information you need from your other suppliers before you sign the agreement in case you find you are unable to commit.

Should you require any guidance on interpreting or analysing a supplier contract, contact info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

The 10 step strategy for negotiating the best deal with your wedding supplier

Weddings are expensive. Compared to many other investments you may make in your lifetime, few are as short lived as your Wedding Day. Couples may end up spending between £20,000 to £100,000 on their wedding day, months of planning with all of it to be completed within 12 to 14 hours. Decreasing your wedding spend and obtaining maximum value for your wedding day is the aim and here is our 10 step negotiating strategy to put you in a position of strength.

  1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation – Preparation is the cornerstone to any negotiation process. Sit down with your partner and/or family and clarify what your objectives are for the negotiation. There key questions you should consider discussing are:
  1. What is your price range – upper and lower limits?
  2. What service(s) are you expecting from the supplier- before, during and after your wedding day?
  3. What are your payment terms, which assist your budget and cash flow?
  4. What factors are important to you?
  5. What are you prepared to compromise on and what is non-negotiable?
  6. Whether the service the supplier is supplying is critical for your wedding day?
  7. Be clear on what your preferred outcome would be?
  1. Research actual costs – You have an increased chance of negotiating costs with your supplier if you have clarity on the actual costs of the service your supplier is offering. Whilst this is not always easy to figure out, carrying out some basic market research could assist. When it comes to weddings, experience has taught us that suppliers have a tendency to mark up their prices with a premium. By figuring out the actual cost to your supplier for the services, you will gain an appreciation of the likely mark up price on the services. In turn you will gain an understanding of your margins for negotiation.
  1. Clear Communication is Critical – Adopting a clear line of communication is extremely important when engaging a wedding supplier to avoid any confusion or miscommunication when negotiating.
    1. As a couple or as a family, nominate a   spokesperson who should be the only person communicating with the supplier.
    2. Be polite, courteous and look for ways to build a rapport with your potential supplier. It is far more effective to negotiate a discount if you have demonstrated your ability to be personable as well as professional with your supplier.
    3. Any communication, however, long or short it maybe should be documented in writing and sent to the supplier. For example, even a five minute telephone conversation should be followed up by an email to the supplier along the lines of

“Dear Supplier x,

 

Thank you for your time on the phone a few minutes ago, just to confirm we discussed/spoke about:

X

Y

Z

I look forward to speaking with you in the near future. In the meantime, should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

                       

Kind regards

 

Your name

  1. The “Rule of Three” – As a minimum, aim to approach three suppliers who provide the same services as your target supplier and obtain a like for like quote. The wedding industry is competitive and suppliers maybe tempted to offer a price reduction if they know you have researched the market.
  1. Consider transferring as much business to one supplier- The theory behind this strategy is “the more you order, the lower the price”. For example, it maybe the case that your photographer can also offer videography services, your DJ can also offer additional entertainment services, your caterer can also offer bar services. If you can keep your suppliers to a minimum by providing more business to a select few, you not only make life easier for your from a management perspective but you open the possibility of being able to negotiate on price.
  1. Have your deposit ready – cash flow can be as important to a supplier as it is to a consumer. Further, whilst it maybe your dream wedding day, suppliers are running a business and are looking to get paid. Therefore, a way in which you could leverage with a supplier is to be willing to make a larger deposit than they are requesting. The theory behind the strategy is “the higher you go, the more your negotiating power is on the overall rate”. We remind consumers to carry out their due diligence before putting down a deposit.
  1. Don’t accept the first offer – Yes, you maybe talking to your first choice supplier but avoid accepting the first offer that is provided to you. Consider making a counter offer or ask them to get back to you with a better price. Patience and persistence can pay dividends in a competitive wedding industry.
  1. Reign in your enthusiasm – It is often said that the better deal goes to the person who wants it the least, or at least appears to want it the least. Aim to have a backup supplier who can provide the same service which will allow you to walk away should negotiations lend themselves to deadlock. Don’t be afraid to walk away. There will always be more than one supplier who can offer the services you require.
  2. Think creatively – Your target supplier may refuse to budge of price despite your best attempts to negotiate. Consequently, you may need to think creatively about what else you could get from your supplier to add value to your wedding. For example, a caterer maybe less willing to give you a discount but maybe willing to throw in an additional dish to the menu. Don’t be afraid to express your creativity in a bid to get better value.
  1. Find ways to provide value to the supplier – Consider ways in which you could help your supplier advertise their goods or services to your weddings guests as a way to negotiate on price. For example, you could offer the supplier an option to display their business cards on the dining tables at the reception or if you have a wedding website, you could offer to have a link to your supplier’s website from your website.

For assistance in contract negotiation contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

 

10 ways to reduce your wedding spend

One of the most difficult aspects of organising a wedding is to keep the wedding costs under control. Here are 10 tips to assist you in keeping your expenditure in check:

  1. Wedding caterers often take the lion’s share of your overall wedding budget. Instead of offering your guests canapés during the drinks reception, starters, mains and dessert, you may consider having a slightly longer drinks reception with more canapés. You could then skip the starters and go straight to mains and dessert.
  1. Find a venue that allows you to bring your caterers. Unfortunately many venues require you to use their list of preferred caterers. The problem with this is that these preferred caterers often charge more than independent, non-venue affiliated caterers.
  1. Carefully managing your bar tab can also assist in keeping your overall wedding spend under control. Adopting a limited drinks menu – i.e. only offering 2 spirits, 2 wines and a beer option is perfectly acceptable. In the alternative creating your own personalised wedding punch/cocktail to replace a spirit option can also be an inexpensive way to keep your costs low. Finally investing in entertainment through the course of the evening is a way to distract guests away from the bar which in turn can assist in keeping your spend down.
  1. The payment method and payment schedule by which you pay a supplier could also assist in negotiating prices for your consumer. Paying part of your contract price in cash and some by bank transfer could provide you will some scope to negotiate down the price.
  1. There is often scope for a couple to negotiate down with a supplier if you simply just asked. It isn’t uncommon for a supplier to have a margin in which they can negotiate provided you put forward a polite request. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and you have nothing to lose.
  1. The concept of plus ones can sometimes be a sensitive issue when it comes to inviting your friends and their partners. You are advised to make it clear that invited guests are only those named on the invitation. Being ruthless and honest with yourself about how much you value the presence of a plus one maybe a useful exercise in keeping the overall guest list under control.
  1. Don’t be afraid to splash out on artificial merchandise. The truth is that very few people will be able to tell the difference and even if they can – who cares! Whether it artificial flowers, jewellery or designer dresses if it means making a saving – why not consider it?
  1. Weekday and Sunday evening weddings are growing in popularity and it is easy to see why. With up to a third being knocked off the final price of the venue and supplier costs, it may make sense to give some serious thought to when you decide to have your wedding. Further, weddings in Autumn and Winter seasons can result in cheaper hiring costs.
  1. Ditch expensive invitations. It is possible to use social media platforms to your advantage when inviting guests. Creating a quirky video invite and sending the link to guests could be just as impressive compared to the traditional paper based invites.
  1. Lets face it – you will only wear your wedding outfits once, so why end up spending thousands on it. With more companies operating a hire scheme, why not consider hiring your wedding outfits for the big day. This is a far more effective way to look amazing at a reasonable cost. 

For more information on keeping your wedding costs down or assistance with any of your wedding legal requirements: contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

15 questions to ask a referee before booking your wedding supplier

In our blog “3 easy ways to carrying out your own supplier due diligencewe emphasised the importance of obtaining at least three independent supplier references as one of the three ways to carry out your own supplier due diligence.

Who is a referee?

A referee will be someone who is a previous client to your potential supplier. Therefore, the referee would have used the services of the supplier so as to be in a position to evaluate the services they received.

What is the purpose of obtaining a reference?

To ensure your wedding supplier can deliver to the standard that you expect for your wedding day. To obtain as much information as possible about the supplier so you can make an informed choice as to whether you should sign a contract and pay a deposit.

How to obtain a reference?

Ideally obtain the phone number of a referee who used your potential supplier but failing this an email address will suffice. The aim is for your to make direct contact with the referee without interference from anyone else.

15 questions to ask a referee?

General questions:

  1. When did you last use the supplier?
  2. What was the nature of the event?
  3. How many guests did you have at your event?
  4. How easy was it to work with the supplier during the lead up to your event?
  5. What were the supplier’s strengths and weaknesses in assisting you with the preparation for your event?
  6. Did the supplier meet deadlines and attend/set up at your event at the time stipulated?
  7. How well did the supplier interact with the other suppliers when setting up for the event?
  8. How well did the supplier interact with guests who attended the event?
  9. Did the supplier meet your expectations?
  10. If yes, how? If no, where did the supplier fall short?
  11. How was the supplier’s interaction with you after the event? Was there any communication or correspondence? Were there any delays in delivery of products (e.g. if your supplier is a photographer or videographer)?
  12. Were there any unexpected payments that the supplier requested to be made?
  13. Do you feel you received value for money in using the supplier?
  14. Would you recommend we use the supplier for our event?
  15. Is there anything else we should know about the supplier that you would like to add?

3 easy ways to carrying out your own supplier due diligence

You think you have found your perfect supplier? Excellent! What next?

It is very tempting to go straight ahead to book your supplier and unfortunately many couples do so without carrying out “a supplier due diligence”. This sounds fancy and complicated but it is really quite simple.

What does due diligence mean?

In simple terms: know as much as you possibly can about the supplier who is about to take your money and supply goods or services at your wedding.

The Wedding Lawyer recommends you carry out the following steps prior to booking a supplier:

  1. Always insist on a face-to-face meeting as early as possible.

Whilst this seems like an obvious one, we are surprised to learn how many couples have relied on a quick phone call and a few email exchanges before signing a contract and paying a deposit. In an age where websites can be made in minutes it is not difficult for a supplier to create an impressive looking website which could give off an ultra professional image. Don’t be fooled. Always insist on a face-to-face meeting with your supplier at least once prior to confirming a booking. A face-to-face meeting demonstrates a degree of proactivity and seriousness about your involvement and intentions for how you would like your wedding day to unfold.

A face-to-face meeting will assist in understanding exactly who it is that you are dealing with, how much experience they are likely to have had in the industry and above all creates a medium for clear and open communication. Having dealt with a numerous different suppliers in the wedding industry over the years, we have found that there is no substitute for having a face-to-face meeting to fully understand the scope of the services provided and negotiate on price. Quite often, the more serious you come across about doing business with a chosen supplier, the more serious a supplier will be when working on your events. By having a meeting as early as possible, you will be able to gage very quickly whether this is the supplier for you and if things to not work out, you will still have time to carry on your search.

  1. Obtain at least three independent references on your supplier

Just like when you are applying for a job, you may be asked to submit contact details for a referee to your new employer, this is no different to when you look to hire a supplier. In essence you are hiring your supplier to deliver on one of the biggest days of your life. Therefore, do not miss out on the chance of obtaining three independent references from your supplier. Suppliers do get asked to provide details about previous clients so a consumer can obtain fair and independent references. Therefore, do not feel shy or embarrassed to ask your potential supplier for this information. It could be the case that your potential supplier will need to obtain permission from their previous clients before divulging personal information. We recommend you allow your supplier time to do this, as it will be well worth it once you are equipped with a potential referee. Some suppliers may point you to their testimonial page on their website or offer to contact their previous client on your behalf. We recommend you adopt a proactive approach and make contact with referees by yourself to ensure any references are as independent as possible.

  1. Online trawl

In this current digital age, there is an abundance of information about wedding suppliers available on the Internet. It is worth investing one or two hours searching for as much news as possible about your potential supplier. Your potential supplier’s website followed by a Google search is often a sound starting point. During your research check whether your supplier has any handles on any social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn or Instagram. If they do, conduct a further search on each of these social media platforms to see whether there are any positive or negative comments about the services offered. Finally, it is worth conducting a search on online wedding directories such as www.hitched.co.uk or www.weddingdaily.co.uk.

For more information about conducting the due diligence contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

5 steps to follow before booking a supplier for your wedding?

 

Ladies and Gents, with the wedding season nearly upon us, this can only mean one thing! Happy couples are well into the process of what we like to call “WedMin” or Wedding Admin. Among the many important WedMin tasks include sourcing and securing wedding suppliers in preparation for one of the biggest days of their life. These are exciting times but caution should be adopted before one decides to depart with their hard earned cash.

What is a wedding supplier?

A wedding supplier is anyone providing goods and services for the wedding festivities including the pre wedding day events, the wedding day and the wedding reception. Wedding suppliers may include photographers, videographers, caterers, wedding venue representatives, beauticians, DJs, bands, dress designers, chauffeurs – just to name a few!

Your team of wedding suppliers are essentially the people responsible for ensuring your wedding festivities go according to plan. The number of wedding suppliers entering the industry is growing at a significant rate. Whilst, some suppliers are more established and reputable than others, it is important consumers are diligent before proceeding with making a booking. 

The Wedding Lawyer recommends you follow the following steps before booking a supplier:

Step 1

Complete a full supplier due diligence check

Do not underestimate the importance of completing a full supplier due diligence check. Recommendations to use a particular wedding supplier from friends and family are all very well but there is no substitute to carrying out your own checks for your own piece of mind. It is important that you are equipped with as much information as possible about any supplier who will be providing goods and services at your wedding events. After all, it will be these people who may be interacting with your nears and dears and will ultimately be responsible for ensuring that your wedding day goes according to plan.

Click here to understand how you can carry out your own due diligence checks.

Step 2

Obtain a copy of the supply contract

Ensure you have a thorough understanding of what each clause means in the contract. The number of consumers who choose to sign contracts without fully understanding exactly what they have signed is surprising. Consumers are encouraged not to rush into signing anything until they have fully appreciated what it is that they are signing. A tactic that is sometimes adopted by wedding suppliers is to apply a degree of pressure on consumers to sign a contract within tight time scales with the threat that the consumer may lose their booking. Click here to carry out your own contract review.

The Wedding Lawyer has noticed that consumers overwhelmed with panic and excitement end up contracts that at best they do not fully understand and at worst they completely disagree with.

Step 3

Ensure the scope of the services are clearly set out

Within the body of the contract or a document called the ‘Schedule’ or ‘Particulars’ which is a document usually found at the back of the contract, you should expect to see exactly what services your supplier should be supplying you with. It is important to pay attention to both what is stipulated as well as what isn’t stipulated in the contract. If a contract does not clearly list exactly what is going to be supplied, it is our strong recommendation that you go back to the supplier to ensure this is included. We advise you spend some time carefully going through the services you are being supplied. As well as thinking about what services are being provided, also consider what services are not being provided. This will minimise the chances of any disputes about the provision of the services and prevent any unexpected surprises on your big day.

Step 4

Get to grips with the payment schedule

Ensure you have grasped a thorough understanding of when payment instalments are due. Ensure these are inserted into your diaries as soon as possible. An electronic diary (on your phone or computer) is often useful in this regard. Quite often, setting a reminder a week before the payment deadline is due will assist you in ensuring all steps are taking to have the funds ready for transfer by the day of the deadline. If you can negotiate a final payment to occur after your wedding day, that would be ideal. However, in the event of a supplier not allowing this, try to ensure you can pay as much as possible as close to the big day. Click here to see how to save on your wedding expenditure. 

Step 5

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is!

Weddings are expensive and it is easy to be lured to book a supplier purely based on their price tag. Whilst, this is an important factor to consider when booking a supplier for your big day, it is a common tendency to focus more on the price tag rather than on the ability of a supplier to deliver the services for the big day. An impressive price tag doesn’t always equate to an impressive service. Consumers are advised to make an informed decision before booking a supplier with price being but one of the factor to consider along with the steps listed above.

For more information contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

5 Reasons why you should engage The Wedding Lawyer for your wedding?

Once in a while right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.

Along with graduations, becoming a parent and funerals, your wedding day is among one of the most important days of your life. The expenditure, preparation and excitement is often magnificently vast. The wedding day is a spectacular investment of emotion, time and most of all finances. It is important that everything goes as smoothly as possible to ensure the big day goes according to plan. Our five reasons as to why you should engage The Wedding Lawyer are as follows:

 

  1. To ensure you the consumer are as legally prepared for your wedding day as possible in a multi-billion pound industry which is virtually unregulated

The UK Wedding Industry is worth over £10 billion and is growing at an unprecedented rate. The irony is that despite the value of the industry, it is largely unregulated and the majority of your suppliers will require full payment in advance of delivering their services. This leaves what we call the “gap of chance”. This gap occurs from the moment a supplier is paid in full to the successful completion of the services. The saying goes that “Power is Money” and consequently once the consumer has made their final payment to a supplier prior to their big day, the supplier’s bargaining power outweighs that of the consumer. It is then left to chance that your suppliers deliver the services that you expected and contracted for. It is therefore, of great importance that you make the right decisions when choosing a supplier.

  1. Take the stress off your shoulders.

No one really likes thinking about what would happen if things do not go according to plan on your wedding day. There are multiple aspects involved when organising a wedding. Quite often, it is the legalities (i.e. the boring but important aspects) get forgotten about until unfortunately it is too late. Weddings are stressful enough without having to worry about being diligent and legally compliant. We therefore take this stress off your shoulder. Our team of lawyers, risk consultants and wedding planners can assist you to ensure that all the legalities, risk assessments and precautions are taken to ensure your big day runs as smoothly as possible.

  1. Resolve any disputes with your suppliers

Unfortunately, the wedding industry has seen an increase in disputes taking place between suppliers and consumers. Following a recent survey conducted by The Wedding Lawyer, a growing number of consumers are missing out on possible compensation or the full provision of services they have contracted for as they either feel unable to contest a substandard provision of services or do not feel they have the energy having just organised a wedding.

  1. Ensuring you obtain the full value from your wedding spend

With the average cost of a wedding being in the region of £25,000 (£45,000 for an Asian Wedding), consumers who are about to embark on their big day should be able to command the very best service given the amount of money spent in preparation for it. The Wedding Lawyer is committed in ensuring that all your agreements with your suppliers are maintained and if not, ensuring you obtain recompense to reflect your disappointment. Your expenditure deserves the very best service and The Wedding Lawyer is here to maximise the value you get from your suppliers.

  1. Complete you wedding celebrations on a positive note

Couples who find that they have entered a dispute with their suppliers sometimes feel that by raising disputes, they will turn a positive wedding experience into a negative one. Whilst, this maybe the case, we at The Wedding Lawyer take pride from taking over the negotiations and dispute resolution processes meaning you will not have to let disputes or misunderstandings dampen your mood.

For more information please contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

The Wedding Lawyer: Helping couples with their legal needs.

Having completed a circuit of wedding exhibitions around the country, it was intriguing how many people were surprised to see a stall called ‘The Wedding Lawyer” among the flurry of stands advertising bridal dresses, flowers and food.

At a glance, many thought the role of The Wedding Lawyer was to assist couples with divorces and prenuptial agreements and queried why on earth such a stall was allowed to set up at an event designed to create happy wedding days.

Whilst we can provide guidance on divorces and prenuptial agreements, The Wedding Lawyer aims to inform couples before, during and after their wedding day to ensure they are as legally and practically prepared for their big day.  Our vision is to put “fair” into every “fairy tale” wedding.

The UK wedding industry is worth over £10 billion and the average cost of a wedding is around £20,000. With such costs associated with the wedding industry, it is surprising that the industry is largely unregulated. We care when we hear stories of couples entering high value contracts without understanding key terms of the contract or knowing their legal rights against their wedding suppliers.

Consequently, we are committed to equipping couples with as much information as possible as we believe there is a real lack of information and resource to put couples in the strongest possible position in preparation for one of the most important days of their life.

We have a real passion for the law and for weddings. Consequently, we hope to provide you with as much value as possible through blogs, podcasts, video content and webinars to assist you throughout your wedding preparations and beyond.