Although more and more brides and grooms are approaching wedding planning with a do-it-yourself attitude (52 per cent of couples did their wedding planning via smartphone apps in 2015, a number which is still rising), professional wedding planners are growing more popular as well. When Wedding Wire conducted a 10th-anniversary survey in the United States, 31 per cent of the 15,000 couples contacted reported using a wedding planner’s services. That’s up from the much more modest figure (11%) reported 10 years ago.
As a wedding planner, you’re assuming responsibility for a couple’s most important day, so conducting your relationship with them with absolute professionalism is absolutely vital. Formalizing your responsibilities with an official contract is an excellent idea.
Establishing And Specifying A Couple’s Goals
You need to establish as early as possible what your clients are looking for in their wedding and what responsibilities they’re placing on you as the planner. Ideally, your contract should be both comprehensive and as detailed as possible. A contract that puts you in charge of ‘all logistics’ is not as good as one that specifies every logistical need your clients want you to meet. If your clients know early on that the centrepiece of their wedding is going to be six white swans, that should be addressed in your contract. The devil is in the detail as they say. Leaving it open ended means you cant control the outcome as well as you should.
How To Draft The Wedding Planner Contract
Identify The Parties
A surprising number of wedding planners overlook this step when drawing up their contracts. Every contract should start off with a comprehensive identification of you and your clients: names, addresses, and all contact information.
Set The Scope Of Services
The various responsibilities involved in planning the wedding are divided between the planner and the engaged couple. Are the bride and groom going to plan out their own theme and make stylistic choices? The contract needs to specify this.
Common Services The Contract Should Address:
You can and should use your contract to clarify when and how much work you are agreeing to do for your clients. Many wedding planners include a specific amount of their labour (a fixed number of hours per week, for example) they will devote to the clients in their contract. The wedding planner’s obligations on the day of the wedding should be spelt out in the contract as well. Some couples insist on the planner being present at all their events, while others are satisfied with having a representative employee in attendance.
A wedding planner contract should be very specific about who is responsible for paying you and when and how payment will be executed. Planning work can be compensated on an itemized basis or as a comprehensive package. This section should also address when and how your clients should make their initial, non-refundable deposit. A lot of planners opt for a % of spend based fee, you could also go with a flat fee, or a fee per service. You can also work with specialist wedding loan companies like us, that take the stress out of managing the payment side of things.
Even the best-planned weddings might face adversity, and your planning contract can help you be prepared for the unexpected. You need a cancellation policy or a force majeure clause in your contract to provide yourself with protection if there are problems with the venue or any of the vendors involved in the wedding. Your contract’s cancellation language should also address what happens if the wedding is delayed or cancelled by any sort of emergency – illness, adverse weather, and so forth. Your contract should be especially significant on which deposits and payments already made prior to cancellation can and can’t be refunded and you should also identify what is and what is not covered by insurance. The last thing you want as a wedding planner is to end up being sued.
Although a comprehensive wedding planner contract can be a lengthy and complex document, it’s definitely worth the time and effort it takes to draft. You’ll be able to provide your clients with a higher level of service when every last detail of your work is laid out in advance.
Your contract also gives you ironclad support in the event of unexpected circumstances. When venues are suddenly unavailable or vendors fail to deliver, it’s up to you as the wedding planner to make use of your preexisting professional relationships to solve the problem.
Claire Weller and Susan Cordogan, planners with Big City Bride, explain the principle very succinctly: “Wedding planners are repeat business in a way that couples just aren’t. If the lighting guy makes last-minute mistakes, we have a better chance of getting him to fix things at no additional charge.”