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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org