What You Need to Know about Vendor Contracts

Today we’re going to get into an important, though not so glamorous topic, and that’s vendor contracts. Having contracts with your vendors is super important, but what do you need to look out for before signing? I’ll get into that in just a minute, but let’s first discuss why contracts are important.


For most couples, having a contract with all of your vendors will be a no-brainer, and most likely required by the vendors you’re looking to work with. There is one unique situation where you might not feel the need for a contract, and that’s when you have a friend/family member that will be helping you with something rather than hiring a professional. These are actually the scenario’s that I MOST recommend having a contract for, as it’s important to be very clear on the expectations on both ends. While you may not need to be as formal and detailed with some of the details we’re going to discuss in a bit, just having the conversation with your family member or friend about what goes into the contract will help both sides get some clarification on what’s to be provided.

For example, let’s say you have a really good friend that is a pro DJ and they have offered to DJ your wedding for free. You discuss the date and they let you know that you’re locked in their calendar for the day, but there’s no other contract or paperwork in place.

Now, let’s fast forward to the week before the wedding, and you’re set to chat with your friend about the songs and details for the day. You start by talking about the processional songs for the ceremony, and your friend looks confused. He stops you and says “I didn’t realize that you needed me for the ceremony…”, and that when things start to get awkward.

It’s not that he can’t provide the sound for the ceremony, but it would require that he rents a second set up for his equipment which he wasn’t planning on, and with less than a week before the wedding, he’s going to have to hustle to find the equipment he needs. It also means that his offer of providing a free service is now either going to cost him out of pocket for the rental, or he’ll have to put the charge on to you, which is an unexpected last minute cost you weren’t anticipating.

If you had sat down with your friend to put together a contract at the time of “booking” them, these are the details that you would have reviewed. While in this example it may not have changed the end result, meaning you’d still likely need to reserve the extra equipment, it would save you from the last minute stress of trying to figure it all out the week of the wedding. It will also save you from the awkward and uncomfortable situation where your friend may feel taken advantage of if he takes on the cost, or the opposite, that you are upset about a last minute expense you weren’t expecting.

While this is just an example, hopefully it will help you understand why it’s important to discuss these details in advance so that everyone is on the same page with what the expectations are.

Ok, let’s get into the details of your vendors contracts, and what you need to look for before signing. Keep in mind that the order or flow of this info is going to vary by vendor, but making sure all the components are covered at some point.

  1. Your details - this is usually outlined in the first page of the contract, and it will cover the basics of your wedding details, including your names, contact information, and of course, your wedding date, time and location.

  2. Their details - this will include the services they are providing, and this is where it should be specific. How many hours do they provide? Is that second ceremony set up included for your DJ? Will you have one or two photographers for the day? Who will actually be onsite providing the service, if it’s not the person you’ve been speaking with?

  3. The Payment structure should also be outlined in your contract, stating what’s needed for a deposit, along with when additional or final payments will be due. This section will most likely also include any potential additional charges or fees, as well as the vendors preferred method of payment.

  4. Responsibilities/expectations - most contracts will include a section that will outline what the expectations are on the clients end, and it’s important to review those to make sure you are able to provide what they need. For example, in my contract I have a line that states “Clients shall provide consultant with copies of all contact information, proposals, and contracts/agreements with all hired vendors in a timeline manner.” This helps me to set the expectation that I will be asking this of them, but also covers me on my end if they do NOT provide this information and therefore we can’t properly do our job. Another common note you’ll see in this area is regarding meals needed at the reception. Some vendors have really specific requirements, so make sure you review these to avoid any surprises closer to the wedding.

  5. The Cancellation/Rescheduling clause should be pretty straightforward, but many vendors have changed this policy over the last couple of years, thanks to the pandemic. Most vendors will have a non-refundable deposit, but we’ve all needed to embrace flexibility in this area. If you’re not solid on your wedding date yet, make sure that you chat with the vendors about this first. I’m finding that most have changed this section of their contract to state that they will move the date, though they can’t guarantee availability for anything other than the date listed on the contract.

While those are the main components you’ll find in most contracts, you’ll likely find several other categories or standard contract clauses as you’re reviewing the documents from your vendors.

If you come across something that either confuses you, or makes you uncomfortable, ask them about it! There’s likely a very specific reason (or a great story) as to why they’ve added that into their contract. A little more clarification might make you feel much better about it, or they may be ok removing certain clauses if they will not pertain to your wedding.

Do you have any questions about details or clauses that you’ve spotted in your vendor contracts? Head over to the Wedding Planning Collective Facebook Group and post it for us to take a look at. And if you’ve found this episode helpful, I would love it if you could take a second to rate and review. It would mean the world to me, and it will help other engaged couples find the wedding planning help they need.