When planning your wedding, you often have to interact with a number of different service providers. In some cases, when booking with a particular wedding planner or venue, all other service providers are included under your agreements with that planner or venue. In other cases, you have separate agreements with the venue, the planner, the caterer, the photographer, the florist, etc. There are a lot of details to keep in order and it is important to be smart as you document these agreements.
It’s best to have a central location where copies of receipts, contracts, and other documentation can be kept. This way, if there is a disagreement about coverage, prior agreements, or some other detail, you can easily locate the proper documentation. This, however, means that the proper documentation exists! When dealing with service providers, it is important to make sure they give you a contract or other agreement or information for your files. Sometimes brides think that contracts are only to protect the service provider but that is not necessarily the case. That contract may be the only written documentation of what is included in your package, what the service provider has promised to provide, arrival times, services to be provided, prices, etc. If a service provider does not ask you sign a contract or does not provide you with a copy, speak up. Ask when you will sign a contract and be sure to allow yourself time to review it.
Remember that it’s okay to ask questions about contracts or other agreements with service providers. If you are unsure about what certain wording means, or you don’t understand a portion of the document, discuss it with them prior to signing. If you think something has been omitted or forgotten, ask for it to be added, or write it in yourself and initial the written-in statement in pen. Make sure that you get a copy of anything you’ve signed or agreed to with a service provider.
Since so many discussions are held over email these days, make sure to make a special file on your email page where you can move all wedding-related emails and be sure you don’t delete any emails from service providers. These emails can be archived in the wedding folder in case a disagreement arises. Anything that is discussed over the phone should be jotted down in an email and sent to the service provider to say, “I just wanted to confirm what we discussed over the phone, can you please take a look at my notes here and make sure we are on the same page.” Then save both your email and the response.
Of course most service providers are not out to con you, but disagreements do happen. Sometimes it’s as simple as the kind of alcohol that was to be provided at the open bar. Sometimes it’s more complicated- the number of hours or the types of service to be provided by the band or photographer. But having the documentation readily available makes for less headache. On the day of the wedding, be sure to have your planning binder or folder with you and make sure someone else knows where it is- a Maid of Honor or Best Man or a parent who can go and retrieve it for you if there is a problem so you don’t have to spend your own wedding worrying. It can be helpful to do a final run through with your planner or venue about the expectations you have for each portion of the schedule. If you are not going the inclusive way, you can do a final email run through with each major service provider prior to the event and ask them to confirm via email. In the end, it is better to document everything and be prepared in case of a hiccup along the way.