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Wedding contracts: covering the basics

Wedding contracts

Weddings are not only important events but also a big investment. Therefore, before spending money on anything make sure you have a contract to sign and read all the pages carefully. Wedding contracts ensure you’ll get what you’ll pay for, and also what happens if those services aren’t able to be delivered in full, among other things. A contract makes sure everyone is on the same page and also protects both parties from any issues that may arise. Read on to learn the basics about wedding contracts.

Common wedding contract terms

It’s important to understand all the terms and concepts of the contact. Here is a glossary to help you get a better grasp of some terms in a wedding contract.

  • Retainer: Basically a non-refundable deposit or the fee you pay to reserve a vendor’s services on the date of your wedding. It’s important to note that this payment is non-refundable, unless the vendor cancels, in which case it must be mentioned in the contact in case something happens.
  • Liquidated damages: The legal term for a non-refundable deposit used as compensation for booking your event and any work that is done upfront.
  • Jurisdiction and Venue: This term refers to where lawsuits regarding your contract can take place. If you opt for a destination wedding, your vendors may have jurisdiction in a venue of that location so you couldn’t sue them in your home state.
  • Act of God: The term is often used to classify events outside of human control such as lightning strikes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
  • Waiver: Waiver addresses lapses in payment.
  • Indemnification: This means you’ll compensate for any losses, harm, or legal liability that arises from your event.

Clauses to look for

Contracts are typically broken into sections called clauses. Here are the important clauses to look for.

  • Services provided: This clause includes a specific rundown of what you’ll be receiving from a vendor. It should also specifically detail who is providing the services, that distinction can become important later on if a conflict arises.
  • Payment: Financial details should be clearly listed in this section. For example; when are payment installments due? When are payments refundable versus non-refundable? What are the overage fees? What are the penalties if you are late on a payment?
  • Postponements or cancellations: Having clear expectations about how to proceed in situations like these can save a lot of headaches. Things to note include, if the event needs to be pushed back, is the retainer fee transferable? What happens if you need to reschedule and the vendor cannot accommodate your new date?
  • Termination: Termination is different from cancellation, so it should be treated as a separate clause from Postponement and Cancellation. If you are not satisfied with the service being provided by the vendor, how do you get out of a contract? What happens to the payments you made along the way?


Make sure to have a contract from every vendor participating in your big day. It’s better to be safe than sorry!