One of the biggest questions I have been getting from couples lately is how they should be communicating with their wedding vendors and what they should be focusing on when signing contracts moving forward. Below are my top recommendations on how to be handling communication and what to be looking for in contracts to ensuring you feel comfortable moving forward through this uncertainty.
Be open, honest and upfront with your vendors and don't be scared to let them know your concerns or hesitations. It's okay to ask them the tough questions that we all know you have in the back of your mind, such as:
What happens if we have to cancel our wedding?
What happens if we have to postpone our wedding?
What happens if our guest count drastically decreases?
And if their answers make you nervous, it's okay to ask them if they are willing to adjust their policies. Believe it or not, many vendors would rather slightly change their policies to find a solution that both of you are comfortable with, than risk loosing the business. With that being said, don't expect that from all businesses, and be respectful if they are not willing to make adjustments.
Your vendors will appreciate your openness and having these conversations prior to signing contracts will make everyone feel more comfortable in moving forward.
Read Your Contracts
I know this sounds silly, but I can't stress enough! Even if you have have detailed conversations with your vendors, be sure to thoroughly read the contract. You need to be sure you are comfortable with the terms and you need to be sure you understand what happens if you need to cancel or postpone your wedding. In general, the main clauses you are going to want to focus on are below:
What happens if you need to reschedule and are their any additional fees?
What happens if they are not available for the new date?
What happens if you need to cancel and is any portion of your retainer refundable?
Are you still required to pay the remaining balance?
Forces Majeure Clauses
If there a difference in their policies based on whether you cancel the event or whether it is forced to be cancelled?
While I am not a lawyer and feel all aspects of the contract are important, these three big clauses I would recommend paying extremely close attention to right now.
Ask For Contract Changes.
Once again, have open lines of communication with your vendors. If you aren't comfortable with something you are seeing in the contract, ask if it can be adjusted! If you aren't seeing enough clarification in the contract, ask them to spell it out. Remember, this is a legal document you are signing and you want to be sure you are comfortable with everything you are signing.
Now, in case you are wondering; what could some of those contract changes look like? Below are few of my suggestions to help you get the conversations started. With that being said, please be aware that not all vendors will be open to these and please respect their decisions to keep their policies as is.
Can the non-refundable retainer be decreased?
Can you cancel with a full refund up to a certain day? (ie. 60 or 90 days prior to the wedding)
Are you able to get a full refund if you need to postpone your wedding and they are NOT available for the new date? If not, can you agree on an 'administrative fee' to help cover their loses?
If they aren't able to issue refunds, if there another means you can use their service?
Once again, I am not lawyer and none of this should be taken as legal advice, however, I hope it helps you get conversations started with vendors and allows you to feel more comfortable in moving forward with the planning process.
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