While contracts come in many forms and looks, some simple, some long and complex, they all contain 3 basic parts….performance, cost, and remedy. Performance is what the vendor agrees to do, cost is what you will pay for performance (or non-performance on your part) and remedy, what happens if the vendor is unable to perform?
With performance and cost, you want to know exactly what you will get and exactly what it will cost you. Ask about hidden costs and fees, make sure you clearly understand what you are signing…any professional will be happy to explain their contract to you.
Remedy is something you also need to understand. Things can and do happen. If your vendor cannot perform the service, for whatever reason, what happens. What are acceptable reasons for not performing, i.e. illness, death, car problems? What happens if you want to cancel, what are you liable for? What will the vendor try to do to make your wedding happen if they cannot perform? Will they hire another professional, do they have a backup on staff, how much and how quickly will they compensate you?
If you are not comfortable with a contract, do not sign it. Ask questions for clarification, but do not ask a vendor to make changes to their contract. Your option is to sign or not sign and find a new vendor. A vendor who will change their contract has a contract that really isn’t worth anything. While you might not like the contract, respect the vendor who has one and sticks to it…that is a professional and you are apt to have less problems with them than a vendor who does not have a contract or who will change it just to get your business.
Just a final note…contracts are one of the key reasons you should hire a wedding planner…they can interpret and understand contracts for you..they have a fiduciary responsibility to you to make sure you only sign contracts that are in your best interest