If you’re engaged, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably visited a wedding website or 50 and come across their version of a wedding planning checklist. What you don’t know is why those wedding planning checklists totally suck.
You know the type of checklists I’m talking about: what to do first through what to do last and when to do it. They all start the same way telling you to get that gown and venue somewhere between 9 and 12 months before your actual wedding date.
But what happens when you have a 6 month long engagement?
How can you secure your wedding venue and your wedding gown 12 months before your wedding when your wedding is only 6 months away?
It’s basic wedding math.
Actually, no, it’s just basic math. Because 12 is bigger than 6 and that’s just 1 reason why those wedding planning checklists suck for 2 people getting married.
And I’m going to tell you all the other reasons these checklists suck in this blog. So get ready to delete those sites you’ve bookmarked and remove all of those planning checklist pins. This is what you really need. Straight up, no chaser.
To make this easy to apply to any wedding, I have listed some basic wedding planning “to-do” items and when to do what. I am also sharing my secrets that you might never have thought about. Because, yes, despite what those self-proclaimed number one wedding websites say, it actually does matter when you get married.
Those Standard 12 Month Out To-Do Items
The Wedding Gown
Picking out the dress is almost always done first when planning a wedding. Of course, this is primarily because it’s basically shopping. However, it’s shopping for the most important piece of wardrobe you will likely ever own. Getting the gown makes the engagement feel “real” for many brides.
Ideally you should purchase the gown a full year prior to your wedding date. Many designers will need upwards of 9 months to create and send the gown to the store. Then you have to account for any time needed for alterations. Personally, I like to add in extra time in the off chance that my bride either has buyer’s remorse or something goes wrong with the order.
Something frequently ignored by these wedding timelines is the very real time it takes to actually get things done. In this case, it’s important to consider the time it takes to actually find that gown. I mean, if it takes over 20 years to find the groom, then it’s not going to take 20 seconds to find the dress you want to wear when you marry him.
There are so many moving parts to consider when figuring out how much time you will need to shop for your wedding gown. First and foremost, weekend appointments book up quickly, and it can take up to a month to secure a date. You also have to consider the schedules of anyone you want to have with you when you shop. Lastly, if you think you’ll need multiple shops to visit, you’ll also need multiple days for said appointments.
These are just some of the reasons why the wedding gown should be ordered one year in advance. Obviously, that isn’t always possible if your engagement is shorter than 12 months.
It’s not hopeless if you’re engaged in January and getting married in June though. You should make finding your gown one of your three first priorities (the second one is next), but you don’t necessarily need a full year. Here are a few wedding planner secrets:
Purchase a sample or “off the rack”
When you go to try on wedding gowns, every gown you try on is considered a sample or “off the rack”. Many times these gowns will be available for purchase at a reduced cost. The three things every bride should be aware of are:
- These gowns are sample size i.e. 10-12 dress which translates to 6-8 real size. It’s a lot easier to shorten a gown and make it smaller than it is to add length and let it out. It’s also less expensive.
- Sample sales are typically final, so if you aren’t in love with it, don’t buy it.
- Since these gowns have been tried on, there will be imperfections and not all of those imperfections will be fixable. Sometimes this will be as minor as a hem needing to be re-stitched and other times it’s major like missing beading.
Set up your appointments on a weekday if possible or a weeknight as a second option.
I’ve already mentioned this, but weekend appointments are hard to come by since people, you know…have jobs. If you’re in a rush to say “yes to the dress”, a weekday appointment will be available sooner and you’ll likely not be rushed through the appointment and able to try on even more gowns.
Bring only 1 other person with you
I am 110% against entourages when shopping for any wedding wardrobe, but especially when looking for a wedding gown. Your bridesmaids aren’t “like that”…until they are. Opinions always fly and all they do is take up time during the appointment and delay your ability to make a decision. You also have to work around their schedules and pray you can find time when you’re all available. If you really need your crew (which many bridal salons don’t allow FYI) then bring them to show them what you’ve already chosen.
Look for designers that can turn a dress around quicker than average
Not every designer needs 9 months to deliver a wedding gown. Before you crack out on Pinterest and need to have a dress by a certain designer, find out what designers are available at your local salon and when their gowns come in by. Hint: Pronovias frequently can turn around a dress in under 6 months and I’ve also had luck with Moonlight Bridal.
Speak to the wedding salons about rush orders
If you’re really in a bind or fall in love with a designer that takes longer than you have, speak with the salons about paying to rush your order. Sometimes this can buy you as much as a month, but coupled with buying from a designer that’s quicker than the rest, you might be good to go.
Just like buying a sample, you can go the vintage route and pick up a pre-worn gown. I do not, like really do not, advocate buying your wedding gown online. However, you can find some really beautiful vintage wedding gowns at reputable small stores. In fact, there are stores literally dedicated to selling vintage gowns. If you’re wedding is incorporating this hot-never-going-to-die trend, then look around for a shop like this.
Attend trunk shows
Trunk shows are great for two reasons. The first reason is that you can get anywhere from 10-20% off of the gown’s full price. The second reason is that you can see an entire collection from a designer as opposed to the 3-10 pieces the salon currently has. This is perfect for the bride that wants a specific designer’s wedding gown as it takes away the need to bounce from store to store looking at options.
Your Wedding Venue
The second major priority when planning a wedding is finding the venue.
Sometimes, 12 months isn’t enough time to get this done though. With wedding season spanning the months between May-November and peaking in September and October, your dream venue might be booked up to two years in advance. I cannot tell you how many couples I have worked with that had to make the decision whether or not to extend the length of their engagement solely to get their venue of choice.
If that’s not an option for you, then it’s best to be flexible with your venue choices. Not just normal flexible either. More like Gumbi flexible.
The venue is also going to set your wedding date. I know, you thought you had control over that one didn’t you?
Believe me, most couples contact me with a wedding date picked out and don’t have a venue locked down yet. Then they have to decide if they want to see venues that aren’t available on their “date” or if they are open to that date solely representing the time of year they want to be married.
Because the venue essentially sets your date, you should always venue shop and venue book before going dress shopping.
When you make appointments to go try on wedding gowns, the first question they will ask you (besides budget) is your wedding date. Don’t make the mistake of giving them a date you’ve selected, only to purchase a wedding gown and then have to scramble when the venue you want isn’t available for that date. You might find yourself needing a second gown (like a sample) because the first one isn’t coming in on time if you end up booking a venue for an earlier date than your original date.
You know…the date that wasn’t real because you didn’t have a venue yet…
If you have over a year to plan, don’t sleep on getting the venue. Just like it takes time to shop for wedding gowns, you will need all the time you can get to find a venue. Odds are, you will need to coordinate schedules with your fiancé and possibly both sets of parents. Weekend appointments book up first and some venues won’t tour if a wedding is taking place on the same day.
All of that adds up to needing a ton of time to find the venue for your wedding day. Of course, if you can schedule tours on weekdays and look at venues that are in close proximity, you’ll need less time than normal.
Also helpful is to do as much research on these venues before committing to an appointment. It’s not always possible to get pricing from a venue without setting an appointment. In fact, one of the many reasons to hire a wedding planner is that we tend to have that information already or we can get it without much struggle.
Before you do anything past establishing your overall budget, if you’re going to hire a wedding planner, that is your Step 1 in the planning process. So, if you have 1 month or 1 year, do this before the rest of the tasks. A few reasons why:
Reputable and professional wedding planners book up to if not over a year in advance, especially for peak wedding season dates. Many planners, myself included, will not take on more than one wedding or event per weekend.
Hiring a planner for full service means they can do all of the work for you including finding the perfect venue and vendors. That’s right, you basically just have to tell them what you want and just like magic, options will appear.
A full time planner can speak with venues and vendors at the hours that you can’t. You know, like 2pm on a Tuesday. This means that more planning gets done in a shorter amount of time because planners have the same hours as venues and vendors. No back and forth voicemails and emails needed here.
If you’re only looking for someone to handle “Month Of” Coordination, many planners will not book that package until you’re under the 6 month mark. To be blunt, most planners would rather hold out for a last minute full service client than to lock up a weekend with a smaller package. The good part here is if you are a couple with a short engagement only looking for this type of help, you could easily have some solid options to choose from.
All that said, the number one way to get your checklist all checked off? A professional wedding planner…as soon as possible and before anything else.
The Big Ticket Vendors: Photo/Video, Music and Florals
Photo and Video
Always listed on wedding planning checklists around the 6-8 month mark are your photographer, videographer, music and florist. On average, most couples will have at least 6 months to plan. However, just because they have 6 months, doesn’t mean getting these vendors booked will always happen at that time. Remember how venue and gown come first?
Many photographers and videographers will only be available for one wedding per day unless they work like an agency. It’s very important to meet these people before hiring them. I know, you totally do not have time to do this, right?
Invent it if you need to.
Your photo and video team will be with you almost the entire day of your wedding. If you’re not comfortable with them, it will show in those photos and videos you get back. There are no do-overs and it’s not enough to just love the work or the product.
In addition to meeting/interviewing these people, I always recommend an engagement session with your photographer because that’s basically practice for the real thing. The real thing being your wedding day.
As a planner, I like to book photo and video 9 months to one year in advance. I know, that’s totally not what the internet tells you to do, right? Silly them…
If you plan to do an engagement shoot (I mentioned you should and I meant it), odds are your photographer will have more availability on a weekday. Since weekdays are a problem for many couples, then you will need a weekend and guess what tends to be a problem for wedding photographers?
This means that you could be waiting months to take your engagement photos and if you want them outdoors, you’ll have to leave time for rescheduling in case it rains. You also won’t be able to shoot outdoor photos for a handful of months if you live in a state where winter exists. Pretty soon you’re taking your engagement photos 1 month prior to your wedding and that is no bueno.
If you have longer than one year, start this process at the 9 month to one year mark. This is especially important if you are getting married during peak season since you might get a lot of “sorry, already booked” responses. If you are pressed for time, then shop for both photo and video simultaneously (a general rule of thumb anyway) and line up appointments via Skype if that’s the only way you can schedule a weekday.
It doesn’t matter if you have a band, DJ or both, sometimes 6-8 months isn’t enough time to book. Like the other vendors that you will need at your wedding, many bands and DJs book up peak season 9-12 months in advance. If you want something specific, such as an electric violinist or a DJ that can provide live musicians to accompany his music, then I recommend shopping 7-9 months prior to your wedding date.
While I know many people (and many planners) will probably disagree with me here, I am going to say that seeing these people in person is essential. If you want a live band, there is no better way to hear what they really sound like than to attend an in person showcase. Sometimes, there will only be showcases available once a month or every other month. If you’re not available on the one date they have, then you’ll be forced to wait until the next one.
If you’re going with a DJ, an in person meeting or interview isn’t mandatory but I wouldn’t recommend booking without a least a Skype or phone call. Any DJ worth hiring will be passionate about music and even more passionate about selecting the right music for your wedding. It’s equally important to know how the DJ works and to make sure the way they work is in line with what you imagine for your wedding.
For the couples with shorter engagements, it’s a good idea to get a hold of videos of past performances of bands and DJs. Showcases might not always be possible and you might not have the time to sit down and interview DJs. However, even if it’s 11pm at night, you should make the time to watch and listen to any recordings the music vendors can provide to you. Also consider looking into any bands or DJs you heard at weddings you attended and fell in love with.
As a wedding planner, I insist that my clients meet florists that I recommend before signing a contract. While it doesn’t matter so much that you’re vibing on a personal level, it is important to know that they understand what you want. It’s just as important that you are confident in their ability to create it.
You will never get that from an email exchange. Period.
However, most florists will only be available to meet on weekdays, which can make setting anything up totally impossible. If you don’t have 7-9 months before your wedding date (which is when I recommend securing a florist), then doing your homework prior to a meeting or in place of one is essential.
Before you go sending your 597 pins of centerpiece inspiration out to every florist within a 50 mile radius of your venue, narrow those pictures down. Way down. It’s more important for a florist to know your colors and the feel of your wedding. It’s less important for them to know the exact height you picture for each centerpiece and how if you don’t have peonies you’ll throw yourself off a bridge.
Another way to save time is to look at websites of florists and see if their work is similar to what your style is. If you find yourself drooling over a website but don’t see your style displayed, you can reach out to the florist and ask them for additional examples.
For instance, if you have a vision of greenery suspended from a tent, but don’t see it on a florist’s website, there is no harm in asking if they have done that before and if they have, could they share pictures. If you’re tight on time and having trouble choosing between florists, consider paying for a sample centerpiece to help make your decision easier.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? There’s a lot to this wedding planning stuff and knowing when to do everything can be a lot to digest. In order to avoid throwing anyone into a meltdown and running off to elope, I’ll continue the rest of this timeline in the next blog.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so you’ll know when to come back for the rest of the to-do list and when you want to get started on those items. In the meantime, share below if you’re on the fast track to the wedding day and what you’re doing to check stuff off your list!
I recently wrote a blog about wedding contracts and the importance of reading every last word. If you didn’t catch the details, make sure you read all of them before continuing here. This blog will cover the vendors I didn’t talk about yet and how their wedding contracts can affect your wedding plans.
Side note: This isn’t meant to freak anyone out or send brides and grooms on a scavenger hunt looking for the “traps” in wedding contracts. We’re all friends here and as a friend (and a wedding planner), I want to make sure you know what you’re signing before you sign it.
Moving down the list of vendors you’ll typically encounter when planning your wedding…
The Stationery Contracts
Doesn’t matter if you are the type to get custom invitations or order simple stuff on the web. You sign a contract either way, whether it’s handed to you by a person, or you simply check off that you agree to all of the terms. And if you didn’t read those terms, then it will catch up with you down the road. What could I possibly be talking about?
- Invitations, menus, programs and all other paper products have one thing in common: wording. You will have to get the correct wording to the person (or computer application) designing all of this stuff. This basically means getting slightly important details like your wedding date, time and location, all 100% correct. There will also be a deadline as to when this information is needed by. If you delay on doing your work, then the stationery designer will have to delay on doing theirs. Signing a contract here implies that you understand what happens when you don’t get the information sent in on time.
- Another agreement you make when you sign this wedding contract is getting what you pay for. Revisions can be made but there’s always a limit unless you’re willing to open your checkbook. Don’t ignore the lines in the contract that tell you how many revisions you are entitled to. Otherwise, you’re bound to get pretty angry when you’re asked for additional funds because you can’t make a decision.
The Hair and Make Up Stylist Contracts
Quite often, brides will hire a professional team of hair and make up stylists for the big day. The stylists usually take care of the bridesmaids and mom figures as well. I book stylists for my clients at least 7 months prior to their wedding. This means they have to know how many people are getting hair and make up done way far in advance. I’ve seen brides ignore this contract entirely. Not good and here are two reasons why:
- Every contract is different, but the information the stylist asks for, helps them create the quote and proposal as well as prepare for the day. Odds are, you will have to commit to the amount of people being booked and what services you will need. Right down to airbrush versus traditional and false eyelashes versus mascara, decisions need to be made in advance. Is there flexibility for a changed mind on the wedding day? Potentially. But it’s not owed to you since you signed off months earlier.
- Prep details are included in the wedding contracts and these helpful hints often end up in the trash. Believe it or not, there is a reason that stylists want you and your ladies to read what they wrote. Included in these guidelines are mentions of how hair cannot be wet, that flatirons should not be used prior to hair services, and that anything more than moisturizer on a face is no bueno. [tweetshare tweet=”You’d think that much of this would be common sense, but I’ve seen things, let me tell you… ” username=”RothweilerEvent”] I’ve also seen a bridesmaid lose her mind when she was charged a fee for showing up without blow drying her hair. Yup.
The Hotel Block Contracts
If you’re setting up rooms at a hotel local to your wedding venue, you will enter into a contract that is duller than a book on tax law. Doesn’t matter because why? You need to read it anyway. Not only does this wedding contract affect you, but it also affects your guests. And this just in: guests tend to complain about wedding issues. Don’t give them ammo by ignoring this contract and especially these points:
- It will be very clear in the contract when the rooms are no longer available. This doesn’t mean that your guests can’t still get a reservation, it just means that there are no guarantees anymore. So if a hotel releases the block of rooms to the public and Uncle Sal calls after the release date (that you agreed to), he might be out of luck. Trust and believe that you will hear about this and then expected to fix the situation. That will also happen less than a month before your wedding and ZOMG do you really want that kind of stress? Memorize that date and share it in your invitations so that you can ask Uncle Sal why he didn’t read everything, instead of him asking you.
- Believe it or not, a majority of hotels will put in their wedding contract that outside alcohol is prohibited. That means no poppin’ bottles post reception in your penthouse suite. Nope. Not allowed. Can you get around this? Of course. Don’t make a bunch of noise on the balcony and party like it’s 1999 and things will probably be cool. The reason things go left is because the couple didn’t read that fine print and guests are calling the front desk to report the noise. Read the fine print to know what rules you’re about to break.
The Photobooth Contracts
Most times when working with a DJ, there will be a photobooth add-on option. There are also companies that exclusively handle your photobooth needs. Between the two, you really can have anything you want in terms of set up and photos delivered. Photobooths seem simple though so what could possibly be in a contract that even matters?
- Remember in the last blog when I said that the wedding contracts affect each other? Here is a classic example: the photobooth. Just as you might think this contract is no big deal, this vendor is viewed as lower on the totem pole by industry people. Probably because everyone and their mom has one now and it’s not considered an essential wedding item like you know, food. That doesn’t make the contract any less legally binding, so read it and pay attention to anything regarding a power source and table. Odds are, you will be asked to make sure there is a certain amount of electricity and that it’s only 20 feet away from their set up location. Photobooth vendors always ask for a small table as well, and it’s your responsibility (because you agreed to do it when you signed their contract) to make sure it’s there.
- Photos from a photobooth can be delivered hundreds of ways. You will have the option to decide on the size of the photos, how many copies are printed, and if you want them all on a flash drive at the end of the night delivered via giraffe…Kidding, I just put that in there to see if you were still reading.. Before you even decide which company to book, you need to know what your options are. Once you agree and sign, there is no “Oh I thought everyone got a copy” on the day of the wedding when you and your 20 bridesmaids pile into the booth. Wording can be tricky here so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification until you’re all on the same page.
Those are the vendors involved in most weddings and some highlights of their wedding contracts. Depending on the details of your wedding you might hire others including an officiant if you’re outside a religious house for your wedding. The contract with an officiant is generally simple, but just as important as the rest. [tweetshare tweet=”Because if the officiant doesn’t show up because you moved your ceremony time and didn’t tell him, then ain’t no one getting married that day.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]
For anyone getting married at a location that doesn’t provide catering, those couples will enter into a wedding contract with a catering company to handle food and beverage. Yes, this does also mean alcohol, so read that contract twice. Common things brides and grooms have said “but I didn’t know that” about on their actual wedding day? Oh, just little details like how they were supposed to provide ice, or that they were responsible for getting the food orders from their guests before the wedding day.
No matter the vendor or how long and boring the wedding contract is, read it and read it again before signing on the dotted line. Nothing is worse than arguing with a vendor and having them quote the contract that you didn’t read. It’s a pain in the ass and watching paint dry is more entertaining, but if the booze is warm, the DJ doesn’t have enough electricity to play music and the venue refuses to let a vendor in because they have no insurance, you will remember your wedding day for all the wrong reasons.
And since we really are all friends here, be sure to share that time you signed a contract without reading it? What about those of you that did read the contract but were surprised by what you read? Share in the comments below and let’s see even more reasons why reading a wedding contract is mandatory.
Be honest. You have signed a contract before that you didn’t read. Or maybe you read most of it, but then figured it was just standard legal stuff to ignore. Too often contracts are treated like those annoying “terms of service” boxes where you just scroll down, click OK and get on with your life. But the simple reason behind why you want to not only read, but understand the contracts you sign while wedding planning, is because they all affect one another
I cannot tell you how many times I have been hired in the middle of the wedding planning process. A couple has picked the date and the venue and perhaps a handful of vendors. Maybe they were getting overwhelmed or just tired of planning, but quite often I have been asked to put on my planner hat halfway down the aisle.
The first thing I ask for when working with partial planning couples is to see a copy of every contract they have entered into. I can’t change what has already been agreed to, but I need to have a foundation for the house I’m trying to build. Too often, I have said to couples, “Did you read this?”
And I already knew their answer.
So if you’re getting ready to plan the details of your wedding day, then this is mandatory reading material. No, you won’t have to sign anything and there won’t be a quiz at the end. But you can bet your sweet little white dress that once you realize why reading is important, you’ll be more likely to actually do just that. I’ve broken this up into two parts, so make sure you read both in order to be fully prepared to do battle…or…um….plan your wedding.
Here we go!
The Venue Contract
The venue will have the longest contract and is almost always the first item checked off the list when planning a wedding. After all, you can’t really give anyone a date if you aren’t even sure what is available. [tweetshare tweet=”As easy as it would be to assume it’s allowed if it’s not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]I’ve worked at and researched thousands of venues both locally and internationally, and regardless of location, many contracts are similar. Here are a few major details to look for in a venue contract and the reasons why you need to know them:
- How many other events might take place before, during and/or after your wedding? Most brides don’t want another wedding going on while they are having their own, but they almost never think to ask about what happens before that. If a venue can host an event prior to your own, they are likely to do so unless you purchase a “buy-out” of the entire space. If an event doesn’t get booked for the earlier the same day, there is still a chance that your venue will not be open until the 2 hour mark before your wedding begins. This means that not one vendor, including your florist, will be able to set up until that time. So if you’re going crazy and pinning elaborate floral displays, slow your roll since there might not be enough time to get that done. If a buy-out isn’t in the budget, keep reading. Regardless, make sure you know how much time you really have.
- Speaking of vendors, the rules that a venue has always come first. Sometimes that grand entrance complete with dry ice isn’t going to be allowed. If you have your heart set on anything that will take place at the venue, look and see what the contract says. As easy as it would be to assume it’s allowed if it’s not written, make sure to discuss it with a sales or venue coordinator first. It’s also worth mentioning that the answer from the venue is the final answer. Even if you hear from someone that got married there or a vendor that has worked there in the past, and they say that what you want can be done…if the venue said “no”, then take them at their word. A few things that are “pin-worthy” but not always venue friendly: dry-ice/smoke, hanging anything from the ceiling, candles that aren’t covered, and wish lanterns.
- Another issue that tends to come up when I get brought on mid-planning is the set up for the day. Your florist is responsible for their stuff, but for items like pictures you want to display or any signage, it’s important to discuss if the venue will handle that or not. If the venue will take care of things like placing 250 chair covers, double and triple check if a labor fee will be added on with your final bill.
- While it varies in terms of amount needed and which vendors need to provide what, the venue will always ask that insurance is provided. At a minimum, your florist, photographer, cinematographer, all music and your photobooth will have to provide what is called a “Certificate of Insurance”. If you’re bringing in outside food and beverage, they are in the same boat and lately, many venues are asking that all outside vendors provide this document. It sounds scarier than it is as every professional vendor already carries this. Just make sure you know what the venue’s requirements are and ask for this document as soon as you book your vendors.
The Photographer/Cinematographer Contract
Selecting someone to capture the details of your wedding isn’t always easy. There are countless photographers available at the click of a google search, and separating the professionals from the wanna-bes can leave you too tired to read the details of a contract. Even though you now know better than to skim and sign, here are things to look for first:
- The amount of hours that a photographer and/or cinematographer is on-site can be anywhere from 6 to 14. While it’s not always possible to decide the exact amount of time you will need until you’re closer to the wedding date, you want to factor in for possible overtime costs. 8-10 hours usually is just fine, but if you can land a package of 10 hours, I’d suggest doing just that. Always confirm if travel time is included and what the actual per hour (or half hour) overtime fee is.
- While your BFF may say to not sign with any photographer that won’t hand over all raw images and the rights to your photos, that is something you won’t always get. In fact, many photographers refuse to deliver raw images to their clients as they don’t want any modifications made including 500 different Instagram filters. Don’t even ask about owning the rights. Listen very carefully to what is included and then read about it twice.
- Pay close attention to how your photographer is your only photographer for the day. There are variations with this clause, but the main point is that there will be no one else taking photos or shooting video. Couples generally glaze over this because they cannot imagine how this would be an issue. Let me tell you where the issue is/why photographers put this into their contract: DJs. You’ve been to the weddings where photographs from earlier in the day are shown on big ass flat screens, right? Well, sometimes the DJ brings a “photographer” for those images. This is a whole different subject to delve into, but just know that this is why the issue exists. Respect it and handle it before you sign a contract with your DJ.
- Like any other vendor present during your reception (wedding planner, music vendor and photobooth usually), the photo and video crew will get hungry. These people are human (except for a few I’ve dealt with) and the human body requires food and water. Most contracts will state that a vendor meal must be provided and even if it’s not written it still has to happen. Because common decency. Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it’s for food not a brand new Prada shirt, and plenty of vendors will bounce from your reception to pick up pizza if you don’t feed them…and it will say so in their contract.
The Florist Contract
Picking a florist is usually a fun task for my couples and usually they go with one that has similar floral designs on their website as the ones they want for their wedding. However, there is more to think about than if someone is good with peonies or not. While a contract will not be the first piece of paper you receive from a florist, it will be second only to the proposal. That proposal will be put together after a consultation where you will discuss what you want and the rough quantity needed. [tweetshare tweet=”It’s important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will need extra staff (AKA: more money) to do it.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]A common misconception is that the first appointment will include a sample centerpiece, so don’t go into that meeting expecting to see one. Here is what you can expect to see in their contracts though:
- The payments you will make will be broken up, but that last payment could end up being a full 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding date. Flowers get ordered at different times, and many florists need 14 days to make sure the order comes in correctly. Some florists will let the final payment go until the wedding day, whereas others will want the money before they make the order. Either practice is fine, but make sure you know when your payments are due.
- Going back to the venue dilemma and having limited set up time, make sure you clear with your florists during the consultation exactly what they are working with. If the venue has a set of rules for florists, make sure to provide that along with any timing restrictions. It’s important to know from the florist if they can accomplish your vision and if they will need extra staff (AKA: more money) to do it.
The DJ, Band or Both Contract(s)
No matter if you have a DJ to handle all of the music, or a band to handle the reception with a bunch of violins for the aisle walk, these contracts are just as important to review before signing. Just like the vendors mentioned above, all of these people will have to provide insurance documents, guaranteed. There are differences between their contracts, but here are two similarities to look for and talk about:
- A major reason that insurance is required from your music vendors is that they could potentially use a ton of electricity. Once you are under contract and in the music planning stages, there will be a discussion of where the band/DJ is placed and where the closest power source is. Even if you are in a standard banquet hall, it’s really important to look over the contract in regard to how close your music vendor needs to be and what happens if they are too far away. Bands and DJs do not bring extension cords or generators with them, and adding stuff on like that last minute is going to cost you.
- Pay careful attention to what is actually included and what will cost you more. As a planner, I know what will be needed and what the right questions are. Brides, however, do not. A question to ask here (should it not be outlined in the contract) is: what microphones do you include? It’s a thought that doesn’t cross a mind until no one can hear the vows or any of the toasts, but by then, it’s too late. Don’t wonder or assume anything about microphones. Check the fine print because it might be addressed while you weren’t looking.
The Transportation Contract
If you need shuttles for guests or a bunch of limos and party buses, you will probably work with one transportation company. A big “however” here though, is if you are setting up a hotel block (addressed in the next blog) and they provide a shuttle service. There probably won’t be a contract here, but an invoice and some fine print is typically what you would receive. Whatever you book, read what you are given and look out for this:
- Overtime hours and costs associated with any transportation provided outside of the standard 3-3.5 hours should be considered. You might not think that this will be an issue, but when you’re running late or sitting in traffic or take more time with photos than expected or….or…or….. No one likes paying bills after a wedding because that’s like dealing with student loans. The party is over, the bills should go away, right? Make that happen by putting together a package for the time that you need and be realistic about it.[tweetshare tweet=”Ask about this before you book as it won’t come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep in the invoice…so deep that you won’t see it. ” username=”RothweilerEvent”]
- You won’t ask because everyone assumes, but 9 times out of 10 you cant eat or drink in the limos you book. That’s right, no champagne on that party bus is a total possibility. The thing with this is that no one realizes the reality of this situation until the bride is jumping into the limo with her bridesmaids and a bottle of bubbly and the limo driver says “no drinks allowed”. Ask about this before you book as it won’t come up (probably) and then it will be buried deep in the invoice…so deep that you won’t see it.
The contracts I spoke about above are ones that pretty much go with every wedding, no matter the guest count, location or style. In “Part 2” you’ll see the other things to look out for including a deadline in stationery contracts that most couples never read. Until then, please share your thoughts in the comments section! Did you ever sign a contract without reading it and, if so, what happened? What language in your venue and vendor contracts are you glad you saw before you signed? Tell your story and come back for more in the next blog!