Should couples have an attorney to review their vendor contracts?
In short, it is a great idea to have an attorney review wedding contracts. First, vendors generally write their own contracts. What’s the effect of that? The vendor sets the terms, and the couple signs at the dotted line. Where is the negotiating power for the couple? An attorney can spot issues, and can come up with creative negotiating tactics to shift the power a bit.
Second, there are certain provisions that simply must be included. Those provisions are case specific and likely will not be in your vendor’s standard contract. If you really want baby’s breath, and you don’t specify this in the contract with your florist, you may not get baby’s breath. Think of how many times songs come on that were included in the DJ’s “Do Not Play List.” If you don’t want to hear Ice Ice Baby at your wedding, put it in writing!
Third, I notice that wedding planners promise to “review” my all of my friends’ vendor contracts. Wedding planners are awesome! If I were not a lawyer, I’d likely be an event planner. They have a deserved, and well-earned place in the wedding. However, they lack the training to really review a contract with a full appreciation of what the terms represent. An attorney on the other hand is highly trained to review contracts.
What are some of the biggest legal issues that couples experience?
Performance. Performance. Performance. For some reason, photographers are particularly notorious about not doing what they say they will do. But there are ways to negotiate to avoid those issues. Weddings are a well-orchestrated event. If one thing goes wrong, it can send the rest of the day into a tailspin. Late officiant = late start = cold food. It can really start a chain of events.
What makes you uniquely qualified to have an expertise in the wedding industry and to write about this stuff in your blog?
Not only have I been in a handful of weddings, I am a newlywed! I learned a lot when I got married. I ran the show up until the bitter end… Even changed up the timeline and music a bit during the reception. My planners told me I was the most relaxed bride they’d ever seen. That chill state was entirely due to the fact that I planned that wedding like I meant it.
And, when I am in a wedding, I am no pacifist. I try to make myself as helpful as possible. So, I’ve tasted cakes, negotiated with DJs, and even helped sew my best friend into her wedding dress when the zipper broke. Yes – that zipper… the one that cinches the dress together. We sued. We also won.
I have also been in the negotiation business since 2009. It’s my favorite part of being a lawyer. And, I have a particular love for working with consumers. Lastly, I’ve been scouring message boards on knot.com and wedding Facebook groups for years now. I know what goes on. Sometimes, it is really not pretty.
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