Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Wedding Agreement
Having an agreement in place is mandatory in our industry. Many wedding professionals still use verbal agreements to enter in a business relationship with couples but this is not acceptable. Your professional services must be confirmed in writing and you should be prepared for the unexpected in case things don’t go as planned. Not only at the wedding but also during the planning.
My agreement is five pages long. Why? Because I want to protect myself and my company and cover all the bases. The more specific you are in your agreement, the less trouble you should get into. Here’s what my agreement includes.
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Parties and Wedding Information
This section includes:
- Date of the agreement
- Both parties (me and client name / address – the person signing the agreement is the one paying for your services)
- Package / level of assistance that you are providing. A detailed list of your services should also be listed at the bottom of the agreement
- Rehearsal date and location
- Wedding date and location(s) for ceremony, cocktail hour, reception
- Start and end times (this helps me with timeline and assistants)
- Guest count
- Permits and licenses (I will be responsible to obtain all the necessary permits and licenses, and the client will be responsible for any related fees. This normally happens for park, beach, or tented weddings)
Sometimes, when couples hire me for full-service assistance, they sign the agreement without information about the location(s). This is because we haven’t started working on their vision and we haven’t started looking at possible venues yet. In that case, I put TBD next to locations and times.
In the event that date, location(s) or services need to be changed after the agreement is signed by both parties I will send an amendment with the new terms.
In this section I list the total amount for my services that was agreed upon, and the payment plan. What I usually do is:
- Retainer upon signing of the agreement, ranging between $500-1,000 depending on my total fee
- Monthly payments until the wedding, or 1-3 payments spread out during the planning process depending on client’s preference
- Balance two weeks before the wedding date
If the wedding gets moved to a different location there might be additional fees related to my services for travel (flight, hotel accommodations, meals, car rental, etc.)
I accept credit cards or checks. Don’t forget to protect yourself in case of returned checks. Ask your bank how much they charge for this and include it in your agreement so the client is warned.
In the rare case that a client is late with the balance and waits until the rehearsal day I only accept cash. That way, I don’t have to worry about checks being returned after the wedding.
You should also specify that the agreement will be definite only after the retainer is received. I don’t lock the wedding date in my calendar with just a signature.
Planning and Coordination Assistance
This section is dedicated to the type of assistance that I will provide to the client (in addition to my services related to the package selected):
- I will suggest vision, ideas
- I will provide vendor recommendations (the client will be responsible for selecting them and he / she will sign agreements with vendors directly)
- I will require copies of agreements and orders from the vendors so that I can review their services and make sure all the details are confirmed. This is helpful for me to see what is being provided by each vendor
- I will communicate with the client during business hours. My time frame is Monday through Friday between 9am – 6pm and I will respond within 24 hours during those times. Saturdays and Sundays might be event days for me so I might not be able to respond quickly unless the client’s wedding is on that same weekend, then I will address her / his questions and needs first. This is necessary to set boundaries with your client. We all have a life, we are all busy and we are not able to assist clients 24/7. We are not supposed to pick up the phone if a wedding couple calls us at 11:30pm just because they came up with a fabulous color palette…
- I will ask the client to respond in a timely manner and provide the necessary information as requested. A good example is the guest list, extremely important for seating assignments, escort or place cards, personalized menu cards, etc. Make sure your client understand that some information is time sensitive and they have to collaborate
Terms and Conditions
In this section I have more detailed information about my services or products that should protect me and my company from trouble. Some terms included in this section:
- Client agrees to indemnify and hold harmless my company from any claims, actions, damages, liabilities, etc.
- I won’t be responsible for the performance or non-performance of the wedding professionals who were hired by the client. You can ask for and review vendor agreements before your client signs them but your client should be the one signing agreements with vendors, not you. The only agreement you sign for the wedding is between you and your client.
- I won’t be responsible for personal loss, injury to any person or other damage during the wedding. Also, I won’t accept any liability for the safe return of wedding items and I won’t handle any monetary gifts to the couple. Very often family members are put in charge of collecting items after the wedding and I won’t be responsible if they leave them behind or misplace them during the transfer home. When there’s a card box involved I always assign a wedding party member or a family member to take care of it. This is clearly explained to the couple at the final walk-through or at the rehearsal.
- I will be fully compensated as indicated on the agreement in the event that the client decides to cancel, postpone or change my level of assistance
- I style dessert tables in addition to design and planning, and you might have decor pieces that you rent to clients for their weddings. For this reason, I have a paragraph stating that all rental items will remain the property of my company. All the items rented will need be returned in good condition within 24 to 48 hours of wedding conclusion. Client will be responsible for damage or loss.
- I won’t be held responsible for any losses resulting from sickness, war, terrorism, fire, flood, and more causes
- Client will provide a safe and covered environment to all performers. Clients don’t know what needs to be provided such as shade for instruments, chairs for musicians, meals, and a changing room, and they tend to overlook these details when planning the wedding.
- Client will provide meals for all the vendors and my team. Clients don’t realize how many hours many of us work at the wedding and, if it’s more than 8 hours, we need to add vendor meals to the guest count. These are often discounted to the client and they are either a lighter version of the guest meal or a special meal for the vendors.
- In the event I’m not able to coordinate the wedding (should something happen to me) I will have another coordinator available for the day. I have a list of colleagues in my wedding network who have a similar style to mine and I know they will take great care of my clients if I ever need them to replace me
- Client must comply with California law and I will have permission to refuse bar service to a guest. If this happens, I will personally assist the drunk guest and – if necessary – remove him / her from the wedding. It happened a few times with some unruly guests and I had to send them to their hotel rooms or home with a cab. Sometimes clients indicate who the “difficult” guests might be and I alert the bartenders so they keep an eye on them.
- Client will give me (or not) permission to take images and video clips, or broadcast live during the wedding. I will be able (or not) to post the images and video clips on social media, add to my portfolio and marketing materials. The couple won’t be compensated and their identity will remain anonymous. The client must initial YES or NO in that paragraph. If they select YES I will cover the wedding on social media during the day. After a few months I will follow up with the photographer / videographer to collect all the images and video for promotion. If they decide to select NO I won’t share any images about the wedding (during and / or after). That’s why sometimes you don’t see any activity on my social media channels 🙂
- If I create a vision board for the client, I will make sure that the file will be shared on social media and my blog only after the wedding. This will retain exclusivity of design and color palette to the client
- Client will be responsible for all penalty charges related to venue and vendors if the wedding is canceled or postponed (as long as your signature is not on any agreement as I mentioned above)
In this section I specify that I am committed to create a culture that reflects the diversity of my clients. Therefore, I will provide my services regardless of race, age, religion, traditions, physical abilities, sexual orientation.
This is very helpful if my client is also a wedding professional (yes, it happened a couple of times). It specifies that all the documents used for the planning are property of my company and they will be used exclusively for the client’s wedding. Therefore, the client cannot use them for her / his own business. I also mention that federal copyright law prohibits use, redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the documents provided by my company and it imposes fines for violation
Changes / Termination
In this section I state that any changes to the wedding agreement must be agreed upon by both parties. I also state that any dispute will be determined in binding arbitration in my city / county / state under the rules of the American Arbitration Association. In case of a breach of contract, the client will be responsible for attorney’s fees.
Acknowledgment and Signatures
This is where the client acknowledges the requirements in the wedding agreement and we both sign.
A very important tip: Never sign the agreement before your client! I see this happening very often with vendors I work with. Why should you sign after your client? Because you won’t be able to dispute any changes made by the client after he / she signs the document. Your signature is already in the agreement and you basically approve all the changes automatically.
In this section I give instructions to the client on how to return the signed agreement along with the retainer. Thanks to PlanningPod (an event management software that I use for all my events) the agreement is sent by e-mail via the system and signatures are collected electronically. If you don’t use software or apps that allow you to do so, you can e-mail the agreement. Make sure you save the wedding agreement in .pdf before e-mailing it to the client. Saving documents as .pdf files gives you added security since the file cannot be edited, and it will maintain the same look on different computers.
Once I receive the signed agreement I countersign it and PlanningPod notifies my client. If you don’t have Planning Pod, just countersign and return the agreement to your client for her / his records.
My agreement is the result of many years of wedding planning, a lot of mistakes and overlooked details throughout my career. I hope this post will help you avoid some of the mistakes I personally experienced with past clients and give you some tips for your own agreement.
~~~ BUY ~~~ Do you need a wedding agreement for your business? Mine is below, grab it today! It includes everything I listed in this blog post and more. Feel free to use the entire document or just some of the sections that apply to your specific business.
Please note: Once you have created your agreement based on this template, have your attorney review it BEFORE you add your branding and use if your your business. Laws vary by state, and what may apply in my state (California) may not apply in your state. Your lawyer can also point out if there is any omission of important terms or clauses that protect you and your business.
As a Holistic Precision Life Coach and creator of the Life-Work Balance System, I empower ambitious professionals and high achievers like you to optimize themselves and unlock their full potential, fostering enhanced well-being and productivity in their lives and careers. I combine innovative methodologies (epigenetics, neuroscience, chronobiology, and positive psychology) to facilitate profound lifestyle transformations.