Contracts – Exciting Stuff!

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind!  Ironicaly, a lot of it centered around contracts.  A large part of what a wedding planner does actually revolves around these dry pieces of paper that no one wants to read, but turn out to be SO crucial to their big day.  I had many questions come up from proposals and contracts my brides sent me in the past weeks.  For example, what if you and your photographer just can’t get along?  How much is it truly going to cost you to cancel now, before the big day, and hire a new one?  Before you sign your venue’s contract, how liable are you if your guests do not fill your room quote?  Because of that and my insatiable need for education on anything wedding related, I signed up for a local seminar hosted by MPI titled “Hotel Contract Boot Camp”. 

The topic was presented by a very prestigious event laywer, John S. Foster, Esq., CHME. John was an impressive speaker and while the topic can tend to be dry, he carried it well and I learned invaluable information.  Of course it was kind of funny to find that I was the only wedding planner in a room full of hotel sales directors and corporate event planners.  I think those who knew I was there found it funny as well.  (I’m definitely going to address this with my organizations to see if we can have another seminar for other wedding planners as I really feel they would all benefit from this information.)

Out of the numerous topics we covered, one of the most applicable I felt to any event and venue (not just hotels) was the Force Majeure clause of contracts.  (Also known as the Act of God clause)  Ladies, while this little paragraph can seem like nothing important, it can actually mean quite a bit to your wedding day.  Before this class, I felt this clause covered the facility more than the bride, but now understand this clause really and truly protects the bride.  For example, if you are careful enough to cover hurricanes here and you are having a beach wedding, it could mean the difference between cancelling your wedding and paying their full fees to simply rescheduling or cancelling with no penalty.  Or what if, God forbid, there were a terrorist attack again and commercial travel is restricted?  Do you still have to pay for all those guest rooms in your hotel contract even though your guests simply can’t come?  You might have to, better to check that clause before signing.

As with any contract, you should ALWAYS read everything and fully understand the terms before signing.  Your wedding planner should always be able to assist in navigating contract terms and making sure your terms are what you need for your event before signing.  As John said, if you try to change the terms before signing, it’s called negotiating.  If you try to change the terms after signing, it’s called BEGGING.  Which side do you want to be on?

2 Responses

  1. Kelly
    | Reply

    Good info Wendy! I planned on going to one of my closest girlfriend’s baby shower.. and fly out Sept 13, 2001.. Since it was only two days after 9/11, all flights were cancelled or most were flights getting people back to where they needed to be. I ended up driving there with 2 of her cousins (through a hurricane watch, but thats another story).

    My friend’s sister spent money she didn’t have for a caterer, a Christian comic (who couldn’t make it) and about 20 other guests who were afraid to travel long distances. Her sister had to pay the full fees for everything, even though things were beyond her control. I am not sure if she could have put in an “Act of God” clause in her contracts, but it should would have helped.

  2. Wendy
    | Reply

    Thanks Kelly! Yes, that would certainly have helped in her case. Again, it’s rare it’s needed, but that’s why you have to be careful. Thanks for reading Kelly!

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