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Contracts 101

WEDDING PLANNING IS FUN AND EXCITING, but it’s also a business. As a bride, you need to be business savvy as you finalize all the details of your big day. One of the most crucial things to consider is having a clear and solid contract for every wedding vendor and service.

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  • Get everything in writing and make sure you’re clear on all the terms. A verbal agreement may seem like a good deal at the time, but without a written agreement, your spoken understanding doesn’t have much merit. It may seem uncomfortable to ask for every detail in writing, but it’s worth it in the long run, especially if you need to reference the written agreement in the future.
  • A contract should also cover payment timelines. An industry standard in catering is to pay the estimated food and beverage costs 30 days prior to the event, which is non-refundable.
  • Check with your vendors about their substitution policies too. A caterer for example, may want to substitute Chilean salmon with Alaskan salmon because of what’s in season or pricing differences. It may not be a big deal for you and you and your fiancé(e), but it’s fair that you should know about the possible changes.


  • To make sure you’re getting good service, a good product and a good contract, get quotes from two to three other vendors in each category.
  • Once you’ve found a vendor you like, make sure you seal the deal in a reasonable amount of time. The timeline for signing a contract can vary, but typically contract timelines can be as short as 24 hours or as long as two weeks.
  • Most of the time, a contract is considered final once it’s signed by both parties. Still you may have some flexibility if you need it.
  • Ask your vendors if they allow changes or modifications to a contract. They may allow it, but they may charge extra for the courtesy.
    For liability reasons, most vendors want to make sure they’re covered in case of an accident or wedding day mishap. With all vendors, make sure you have a backup plan in case of an emergency and always try to be calm and fair. Remember having a contract is a good thing. It protects you and your vendors on your special day.

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Jennifer Vogel was raised in Metairie, LA. Now living in Ohio, she still draws from her New Orleans roots for inspiration in her work. Jennifer freelances in web design / development, graphic design and, now, writing for New Orleans Weddings Magazine.

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