Terms for Wedding Planner Contracts
Wedding Planner Contracts and Event Planner Contracts tend to be one of the longest contracts I write for wedding pros. Why? Because you do EVERYTHING.
If this was a Game of Thrones introduction, your intro would be:
HERE NOW COMES THE PLANNER, the master of the event, the spinner of plates, herder of drunken wedding guests, balancer of family dynamics, director of ceremonies, wiper of tears, and keeper of the peace!🐉
….you get my drift. You do everything, all the time.
But while you’re busy taking care of everyone else’s problems, have you stopped and thought about your own? And how you might protect yourself if there’s a worst case scenario??
Don’t worry. I got you.
I’ve used my years of experience working with wedding pros to compile this list of 5 Must Have Wedding Planner Contract Terms to include in your Event Planning Contracts. And guess what? It’s free and you don’t even need to give me your email to access it! 😉
Let’s get to it.
A Very, VERY specific statement of work
Wedding and Event planners— it’s the MOST critical for you guys to specifically define your services and scope of work. Every planner has different packages and different offerings. It’s easy for a client to get confused, especially when they’ve interviewed a few planners before choosing one.
Make it easy on them by telling them exactly what you offer, for how long, how many times, how much it costs, etc. Remember: it’s not enough to say, “wedding coordination services.” You need to specify who, what, when, where, how, how many, how much, and all of those other great questions. Dig down here and do the work in determining what is and is not included in your services.
f you need help with this, I’ve written at length— download our “Strong Statements of Work” workbook to start nailing these terms down.
2. Office Hours (and other limits on communication)
Along the same lines of telling the client what you DO provide, it’s important to establish boundaries and remind them what you DON’T provide.
You love you clients. I know you do. But here’s the thing: you’re not their therapist.
If you were, you’d be getting paid more. 💵
You’re also not their bestie.
You’re not supposed to be answering calls at 10pm to listen to them freak out about Great Aunt Alma.🙄
You’re working for them to plan a kickass wedding or event.
You’re a professional. And professionals have office hours.
You don’t expect to roll up to your mechanic at 4am and have him answer the door. If you start banging on the door of a restaurant before it opens demanding food, they are going to tell you to scram. You wouldn’t call your hairstylist at 11pm on a Tuesday night demanding a coloring appointment for tomorrow.
Then why are you letting your planning clients use and abuse you?
Establish boundaries— office hours— when they can call, text, or email. You’re not meant to be at their beck and call at all times.
I’m not asking you to log time or charge hourly for communication— at this point, I know y’all aren’t going to do that. 🤣 Instead, establish the boundaries that will help you serve your clients and do your job well— starting with communication.
3. Model Release
Here’s the truth: to use a photograph or image (or “likeness”) of someone in relation to your business, you need an Image Release, also known a a Model Release.
This includes your blog, social media, marketing materials, ads, client spotlights, website photos, portfolio, ANYTHING at all related to your business.
Without this permission, the individual can sue you for misappropriation of their image and likeness.
You need to get in writing an irrevocable (they can’t “take it back”) license to use their “image and likeness” throughout all mediums you will be using. I put these in every Wedding Planner Contract or Event Planner Agreement I write, so the Couple signs off as part of their event. However, don’t forget to get guests to sign off too if you know you’ll be using photos from this event in your portfolio (yes, I know it’s a pain, but don’t shoot the messenger here).
Tip From Experience: this gets more and more critical the higher dollar value the event, or if the event involves individuals who are celebrities or public figures. Their people will be on you like white-on-rice if you use an image of a celeb on your social media promoting your business.
[Another tip— if you don’t have a Model Release, we have one in the shop as well]
4. Expense Reimbursement
Raise your hand if you’ve had to chase a client down to get reimbursed for something— materials, travel, etc? 🙋♀️
Heck, it’s happened to me. No judgement, remember?
The easiest way to avoid this kind of debacle is to get payment in advance. I recommend this for TRAVEL and other big purchases. Here’s my biggest tip: I want you to start estimating travel costs and including them in your nonrefundable deposit fee whenever possible.
Do some upfront research. Estimate. Use a travel planning website like Kayak to get a plan together and show costs. You can indicate that it’s a travel fee, and you can estimate a little over the cost to give yourself a buffer— whatever you need to do— but try as hard as you can to take those travel fees up front.
Because they are often large sums of money, and they are usually non-refundable (or only partially refundable). And when you have a couple who cancels a wedding, breaks up, or refuses to pay you, you’re left paying for a flight to Des Moines, Iowa in April and no need to go there (we love you though, Iowa).
For smaller expenses— which add up!— it’s advisable to get in writing that you’ll be reimbursed for all expenses within “ten business days of submitting receipt to the Couple” or something along those lines. This establishes expectations and keeps you from expending hundreds or thousands on small “little things” throughout the event planning process.
5. Liability Release
OK, ears up folks. I’ve seen wedding and event planners get fined/ sued by the venue for things like damaged chairs, late departure times, or damage to the building itself.
And I’ve seen the couple sue the planner for missing bridal party items and stolen wedding gifts.
You need to get in writing that you aren’t responsible for this type of thing. For example, if you’re going to be taking wedding gifts back up to the bridal suite, state something along the lines of, “Planner is not responsible for the safekeeping of gifts or the bridal party’s personal belongings. Couple shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Planner for and claims related to damaged or stolen property, including but not limited to those transported by the Planner…”
You also need to make sure that if the venue you’re working with “fines” vendors, you’re not responsible for the costs. I’ve seen a trend where venues are making all of the vendors sign agreements permitting them to work at that venue, while also imposing strict rules on the vendors themselves. I can’t blame them for it, but I also want to make sure the Planner doesn’t get stuck paying a fine they shouldn’t have to pay.
Why? Think about it: If your Couple decides to party 2 hours longer than their scheduled event time, you don’t want to have to pay the venue a $500 fine for a decision that is out of your control! A clause stating that the Couple will reimburse expenses like this will help keep you from getting stuck in this sticky situation. You can take care of this type of clause before you even know the venue’s policies if you include a line about “Couple will reimburse all expenses related to the event within ten days, including, but not limited to, overage fees, fines attributed to the Planner, or additional vendor fees…”
It should go without saying, but make sure you know what’s in your contract. You need to make sure you’re going over you contract at LEAST once per year and addressing “sticky areas” or areas that you want to improve.