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Vendor Contracts - Everything You Need to Know

Your wedding day is still nearly a year away but if you haven’t started booking your vendors, DO NOT DELAY. Now is the time!! Highly sought after vendors are sometimes booked years in advance so let’s get going.

Whether you plan to have a big extravagant event or a small intimate elopement you will still need vendor services for your big day. Typically, a basic wedding will be contracted with AT LEAST 6 vendors: a venue, a planner, an officiant, a florist, a caterer, and a photographer. The larger the event, the more vendors you may have. Some other possible vendors may include a videographer, a hair/make-up artist, a DJ/band, a cake decorator/baker, a transportation company, a rental company, etc.

When you book a vendor, nothing is guaranteed until you have signed a formal agreement. Most vendors also require some sort of deposit. These contracts not only protect the vendor but your interests as well because it should spell out exactly what you're paying for!

Contracts are organized and broken down into clauses. These clauses use lots of legal jargon that can sometimes be confusing to the average bride. So, BEFORE signing, let’s go over some of the most common clauses you will see and what they really mean.

The Integration Clause

An integration clause, (also known as a merger clause or an entire agreement clause) basically states that any/all terms listed IN the contract have been agreed upon by all parties. This means that any prior agreements, negotiations or understandings are void unless listed in the contract. For example, when you first contacted your photographer she said she would throw in one “free hour” of her time to capture “getting ready” photos of you and your bridesmaids. If this is not spelled out in the contract that statement is simply void. A rule I live by? GET IT IN WRITING ALWAYS.

Governing Law Clause

The governing law clause specifies which state laws will govern the agreement. This means that in the event of a legal dispute, the contract validity would be interpreted by the agreed upon state. If you are getting married in the state that you live with a planner that also resides in the state, there shouldn’t be much question here. However, if you are having a destination wedding in another state or country the parties will have to agree upon the governing entity.

Modification Clause

The modification clause states the steps that must be followed if a modification is to be made.

This seems pretty straightforward but be sure the details are forthcoming.

When signing a contract where all the details cannot yet be finalized, it is a good idea to look for a phrase that states “details will be confirmed by [date]”. An example of this might be the cost of a specific fruit or flower you wish to have at your wedding that will not be in season at the time of the event. The vendor may not be able to provide you with an exact cost until the event nears.

Contingency plans and substitutions are also a great thing to list in a contract. (i.e. if light pink roses are not available, use white roses instead.)

Refund/Cancelation Clause

A cancelation clause is there to protect the vendor. It states that in the unlikely event that the client cancels the wedding, the deposit (also known as a retainer) is non-refundable within a certain timeframe.

But what if the vendor cancels on you? It is important that BOTH parties are protected here. It is a good idea to have some verbiage that holds the vendor accountable for any additional expenses incurred because of the vendor’s last-minute cancelation. DO NOT hesitate to negotiate this modification into your contract!

When it comes to getting married there are all kinds of contracts you will be dealing with. Be sure you review each one thoroughly and have a clear understanding of the terms. Having contracts in place is a great way to set expectations and ensure your wedding day goes smoothly. Have your wedding coordinator go over these contracts as he/she is familiar with them and will know just what to look for!

Happy Planning, Lovers!


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