Questions to ask every vendor before signing their contract

When it comes to planning your dream wedding, it definitely takes a village. And aside from finding your groom, securing the right vendors is the most crucial part of the planning process. But before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask these 8 important questions to ensure you’re making the right decision.

1. Can I see your references? Hopefully, you’ll be able to get recommendations from family and friends (and your wedding planner if you have one). It’s still wise to ask for references and check them.  Many vendors will also have reviews from couples they have worked with posted on websites. 

2. What kind of insurance do you have? Check and see what kind of insurance the vendor or venue offers, as well as the insurance options available in your area for you.  You might want to also check to see if it makes sense to invest in your own insurance policy to cover crises/disasters.

3. Is my deposit refundable? Always ask if the initial deposit is simply a deposit or a retainer fee. The difference is that a retainer fee is non-refundable, whereas a deposit may be fully or partially refundable.

4. What are your emergency plans? Always be sure to inquire about an “Act of God Clause.” If an Offiicant is suddenly unable to marry you due to an emergency, how will they handle that?  Do they have someone they can send instead that has the required credentials?

5. Are there any change fees?  As with any contract, you want to know what the change fees are, so that when you change your mind (seated dinner vs buffet) or things don’t go as planned (weather, guest counts), both the cost and the path to make these changes are clearly defined.

6. Do you subcontract to other vendors? You just love Vendor A’s work and can’t wait to work with them for your wedding–so imagine your disappointment when Vendor B shows up at your event. Be sure to ask directly if your rental company subcontracts to other companies.  The two I am most concerned about are the DJ and limousine company.

If you really love a particular DJ, make sure that is the DJ who will be at your wedding and that someone else will not show up in his place.  If you have selected a particular car or bus that you believe will be the one providing your transportation for the day, make sure the limo service is truly sending that one and not surprising you with the bus that doesn't have air conditioning.

7. Do I own my images? There are many “opportunistic” photographers out there who will only let you have the photos that you purchase from them in the form of prints or books.  If you’ve paid the photographer to take your photos, you should be given access to your photos via CD, online download or on a thumb drive. If they don’t provide that then look elsewhere. Also ask your photographer how long it takes to get your images. Some turn around your images in a week, others three months!

8. What happens if you go out of business? No one wants to be one of those brides on the 5pm news complaining how their vendor shut their doors and now she can’t get her dress, photos, flowers, whatever. Make sure there is a clause that explains that you’ll get a full refund if a business shuts its doors before the wedding, or that they’ll still supply you with your product if it’s after.