A surprising number of wedding professionals do not use a contract to formalize an agreement to provide a wedding service. Even more surprising is that those who do use contracts neglect to include clauses that protect their business. They view the contract more like an order form to organize the details.
Ideally, a wedding goes perfectly. Every bride and groom should be fair, easy to please people, and that everything you discussed is totally understood–but those assumptions are false. Things go wrong. Brides and grooms may blame you for not fulfilling unsaid expectations. Sometimes, just for the game or gain of trying to get as much as they can, they will exploit the smallest error, omission, or mistake.
For such reasons, every wedding business needs a contract; it is worth every penny to hire an attorney or find another business in your category from another area who hired an attorney in order to protect your business with contract clauses. These clauses are not meant to intimidate clients but to protect you from being victimized and exploited by exaggerated claims.
Here are some things to factor in to a contract:
1) What happens in the event of a cancellation? For example, a cancellation fee or no refund on things made specifically for the customer, like invitations.
2) What happens in the event of a postponement? For example, all prices and services will stay the same based on availability and a finite period of time after the postponement.
3) What if there is a reduction of services? Is there a penalty?
4) Include a clause for the right to substitute another professional if they are booking a particular person for the date.
5) A clause for act of God occurrences that can prevent performance or result in the under-performance of a service.
6) Liability limited to refund of all money paid in the event of a problem.
7) Being held harmless for consequential damages. For example, if you own a limousine service and car is late, not being responsible for paying the photographer’s overtime charge.
It may be beneficial to your reputation in certain cases to make concessions to avoid litigation and negative reviews. However, protecting your business with the right contract can at least give you some level of protection. Remember, even as great as the level of trust that can result between you and your clients, always get everything in writing for the benefit of your business and your client.