Your wedding will likely be the biggest party you’ll ever throw for yourself. Not surprisingly, an event like this can take a rather large amount of money to commission – and where money is involved, a contract should always be nearby.

While I’m no lawyer and could never presume to give legal advice on such a matter, it should be evident to you by now that you’ll have a lot of contracts to sign surrounding your big day. I know this may seem to put a damper on your bridal excitement, but it’s really a fabulous aspect of wedding planning! Read on for five top reasons to have a contract with your wedding vendors – and what to watch for before signing on the dotted line.

Chattanooga wedding reception featuring blue uplighting, a dance floor, and live band, photographed by Bamber Photography

1. Contracts with your wedding vendors protect both the wedding vendor and you, listing both parties by name.

A contract is a necessary detail when it comes to planning your wedding. First, it protects the wedding professional, making sure he or she knows precisely what you have requested and nothing more or less. Second, it protects you, making sure that you will indeed receive the services you’ve requested in a timely manner and in a professional fashion.

If you come across someone advertising him or herself as a wedding professional, and he or she does not wish to sign a contract, walk away. In my opinion, a professional will always have a contract, whether it’s formal or informal. Make sure it lists the company name along with your name, and always make sure both you and the professional sign it. Lastly, always make sure you get a copy!

Bride and groom kissing at Chattanooga wedding in Tennessee with blue uplighting and champagne, photographed by Bamber Photography

2. Wedding vendor contracts outline specifics about the day, so no one is confused.

Naturally, your contract should state that the professional has services reserved for your event, listing the day, date, place, time of arrival and departure, services during the event, and a contact person and phone number. This ensures that both parties understand the when, where, and how of the event as far as the professional is concerned.

Peach and blush tone Chattanooga wedding reception table setting with gold lighting, photographed by Bamber Photography

3. Contracts with your wedding vendors outline everything included in the cost of your package.

One of the largest parts of your contract – if not the largest part – should list exactly what will be included in the total cost of your package. In other words, what will you get for your money? Again, your wedding professional should be more than happy to list this, as it protects him or her just as much as it protects you. Consider it a promise of services to come.

Peach and blush tone Chattanooga wedding reception decor with gold lighting, photographed by Bamber Photography

4. If not already within your vendor’s contract, you might consider requesting a clause to be added about changes or additions to the contract needing to be made in writing and signed by both parties.

Any time there is a change to your agreement, you should remember that it is generally not binding unless written out and signed by both parties. With that being said, always get changes and additions in writing before the wedding day, and make sure that both parties have signed, and that you receive a copy.

Bride and groom during first dance at Chattanooga wedding reception, photographed by Bamber Photography

5. Your wedding vendor contracts should all include information on payments, acceptable payment forms, and remaining balance due dates as well as cancellation terms.

Money is the binding force behind any contract, so make sure this is outlined pretty rigorously in your wedding vendor contracts. Most contracts will not be binding until you have placed a monetary deposit and signed, so go to the contract signing prepared to drop your first payment for the services. Your contract should outline acceptable forms of payment as well as requirements for payment schedules. It will also detail what you are liable for if you cancel the contract – or if the vendor cancels.

When at all possible, consider placing wedding deposits and payments via credit card, as this can protect you from fraud on the wedding vendor’s part, bankrupted services, and even negligence on the vendor’s part via the dispute clause you have with your credit card company. Now, does that mean you should go into further debt for your wedding by charging everything? Absolutely not. When you can pay off the balance quickly, however, you might consider it a smart move. On that note, you also might consider using a check over cash. After all, there is no proof or trail that you made payment via cash!

Finally, make sure you get some receipt of each payment from the wedding vendor. This can either be an actual receipt or a signed portion of your wedding contract. This should always state the date, amount paid, and form of payment.

Bride and groom on the steps holding hands before Chattanooga wedding ceremony, photographed by Bamber Photography

There you have it! While the above is not an exhaustive list and in no way should take the place of legal advice, it is a good starting point when it comes to considerations surrounding your contracts with wedding vendors. All you really need to remember about these contracts is that they protect all parties involved, entitling you to certain services when all agreed-upon terms are met, and entitling the professional to certain compensation when all agreed-upon duties are provided. You really have no reason to avoid such contracts, and you certainly should be at least a little weary of vendors who insist that a contract is not needed.


Images courtesy of Chattanooga wedding photography company, Bamber Photography.
To see more from Bamber Photography, check out their cover spotlight on the latest Chattanooga Pink Bride Magazine!