It doesn’t matter how large or small your company is, how much you charge, or how long you’ve been in business: One thing all wedding and event pros should have in their business is an Iron-clad contract! It’s vital to protecting both you, the wedding professional, and your clients. We tapped two of our industry attorney friends, Kunbi Odubogun of Kunbio and Magi Fisher of The Artists Lawyer to share some of the most common mistakes that they see wedding pros making on their contracts. Read on below to avoid them for your own business!
- Cutting corners or ignoring the contract altogether
We’ll start with the obvious and most common mistake: not having a contract! When you run a business in the wedding industry or as a photography business, contracts aren’t just a good idea–they’re essential. “Not only do they protect you, but a thoughtfully composed contract makes expectations, services, and deliverables clear from the get-go,” says Magi.
- Not listing a clear description of services
In short, the tip here is that you want your contract to outline what you as a vendor are going to provide and what you expect from your client. Without a clear description of your services, it’s not exactly clear what should be protected. As Kunbi shared, one of the big mistakes she sees wedding pros make is not having a clear description or scope of services. “This is a big pothole for a lot of vendors and ends up leading to what we call "Scope Creep,” she says. "...where the client starts asking you to do a lot of stuff not included in your services.”
To avoid it, Kunbi recommends having a clearly laid out description of services and list of offerings covered by the agreement. She adds that it should also be clear what the client responsibilities are and that that should also be laid out in the agreement.
- Having conflicting clauses in your agreements
This often happens when a contract is created by copying and pasting pieces of several different contracts together. “This is a big mistake that happens when people just create what I call "patchwork agreements" based on what they've seen on the internet or from other people's agreements,” says Kunbi. To avoid it, she advises that you double- triple-check that you make sure your contract is entirely cohesive. Kunbi warns that if one clause contradicts another, “courts will not look favorably on those, in the event of conflict.”
- Forgetting to Mention Travel
Unless you own the venue, you’re likely traveling on the wedding day to your client. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s halfway around the world or 30 minutes away, you want to make sure it’s accounted for in your contract. “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the cost to travel to a wedding or event falls on you,” Magi says. “Not only does travel add time to your work day, but it’s also mileage on your car, gas and possible tolls.” Magi recommends that every single client contract–not just the destination weddings–address your travel. For example, Magi suggests that your contract specify who is responsible for paying for the travel, what travel-related costs the client is responsible for, and any other relevant specifications. “Also, if you allow the couple to book your travel arrangements or reimburse you, make sure you are completely comprehensive and specific in the contract,” she says. Don’t forget mileage rates, per diem meals for multi-day affairs, accommodation minimums, checked luggage, Ubers, and car rentals. One last word on travel: Make sure to outline when your client should expect an invoice for travel fees and how long they will have to pay the invoice.
- Having an unclear payment schedule and refund policy
Last but not least––and this is a biggie––make sure you’re making your payment schedule crystal clear in your contact. It’s one of the biggest mistakes pros make, and it primarily applies first to the payment and compensation terms in your agreement as well as your refund policy. “This one always comes back to bite the vendor in the butt,” says Kunbi. “It should be very clear what the fee or percentage is going to be, how much is refundable/non-refundable and in what frequency and breakdown the payment will be expected to be made.”
Now get those contracts buttoned up to protect you down the road. Looking for more? Both Kunbi Odubogun and Magi Fisher have more listed on their websites Kunbio and The Artists’ Lawyer and contracted templates for you to implement into your own business!