Wedding Planners: Protect Your Business with Detailed Contracts

Wedding Planners: Protect Your Business with Detailed Contracts

Weddings are back—in a big way and wedding planning is turning out to be a very popular new business. And if the past two years have taught us anything it was that wedding planners need to have detailed contracts to cover their bases for deposits, reschedules, cancellations, and/or "acts of God". Other important provisions in a wedding planning contract include: Description of services; date and location of the wedding; payment structure, including deposit; reimbursement of expenses; indemnification and exculpatory clauses; photo release; force majeure clause. For the most part, these are all self-explanatory. So instead of defining each one, let's look to nuances that only affect wedding planners.

Scenario 1: You need to work with another wedding planner or wedding planning assistant for the day-off. You call around and speak to someone you know in the industry and they are available. They agree to help and you discuss payment. How can you protect yourself so that other planner doesn't poach your client in the middle of the planing process, or, worse, give their business card to guests who ask about the planner? Wedding planners who find themself in this scenario will be remiss if they do not require the other planner to sign a Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-Compete Agreement. Indeed, it sounds like a lot, but these are three bases that must be covered. Make sure this document is signed before you turn over the couple's name and/or start sharing the planning details. If not, planners could run the risk of their property, forms, client information, and other materials being taken without their consent.

Scenario 2: Your client hires a photographer, who sends you photos of your work from the wedding day. You want to post them on your website and social media to self-promote. Can you? While your photographer has the rights to the photos, you want to make sure you have the right to use the couple's likeness, especially for promotional purposes. A photo release provision in your wedding planning contract will give you this right. While you're at it, and among other things, this provision should also: (A) acknowledge that there is to be no financial compensation for use of said photos; (B) authorize you to edit, alter, copy, publish or distribute the photos for publication and/or promotion without their prior consent.

Scenario 3: You pull off the wedding of the century, or at least the year, and you want to tell local publications about it. Indeed everyone should know you were the planner behind the wedding, right? Well, the question remains whether you have the rights to circulate information about the wedding in an announcement or press release for later publication by the media. We come back to the wedding planning contract here. Is there a confidentiality clause in your contract? If so, how restrictive is it? You might have to tread lightly in this regard.

A detailed review of your contract will help you garner a clearer understanding of what you are doing right and/or what you could be doing better. As with any new business, there are learning curves. The key is to not let them have a negative impact on your greatest asset — you, your business, and your brand.