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If your big day is coming up, you've probably already been dizzied by an avalanche of unexpected paperwork. Who ever thought that getting married would involve signing a dozen or more service contracts in addition to the paperwork for a marriage license?
Every wedding vendor you hire has their own contract, with their own terms, and more often than not, none of those terms are negotiable, unless you want to spend more money. What's worse is that you really do need to read the contracts and understand the terms because if something does go wrong, you should know what comes next.
Below, you can read about some of the more common contract terms you should be aware of when signing any wedding vendor’s contract.
While you may have no plans of cancelling anything even if your soon-to-be-spouse skips out on you, your vendors may have contract terms that allow them to cancel the contract if they can't make it. Most contracts will charge a fee if you do cancel, and that fee usually gets larger over time, as the vendor spends time preparing and the date nears.
If you are hiring a small vendor that is essential a one-person operation, you may want to carefully examine this section to see what the fallout would be for you if the vendor is forced to unexpectedly cancel.
Often, vendors have contract terms that call for additional charges for services. Common examples include overtime for staff, travel costs, parking, meals for staff, per-head surcharges, or even a blanket 20% or more service fee. These charges can quickly push a venue or vendor that you thought would be within your price range, out of consideration. But if you sign the contract and pay a deposit before you realize those additional charges exist, you may be out a cancellation fee, or on the hook for more than you can afford.
Indemnification and Liability Waivers/Releases
Generally, wedding vendors will ask for indemnification and/or some form of a liability release and waiver. The liability release and waiver usually means that you won't sue them if they accidentally hurt someone, or do something wrong. The indemnification clause means that if they get sued by a guest, or another vendor, you will pay the cost to defend them and any damages incurred. Many vendors often require you to be on the hook for any damages they incur as a result of your guests' actions as well. These are serious contract terms that do get enforced in court. So if you have doubts about a DJ, caterer or other vendor, you may want to think twice before agreeing to indemnify them.
Thankfully, most vendors are happy to provide contracts early on in the process, and you can spend time researching all the terms right here on FindLaw.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.