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As you plan the wedding, you’ll realize that vendor contracts are a huge part of the process. You’ll meet with tons of vendors, and sign a lot of contracts along the way. It’s easy to miss some of the fine print as you try to get everything done, but let us tell you that there are a few red flags that you need to be on the lookout for. Your wedding is very important, and you shouldn’t have any unhappy surprises because of an oversight.

Never sign a contract that prohibits you from reviewing the vendor after the wedding. Usually this is an indicator that the vendor has had negative reviews in the past and wants to avoid any more. If something isn’t to your satisfaction and you want to let others know, you have the right to do so unless you signed a contract saying you wouldn’t. Remember that inaccurate (or a lack of) reviews compromise a vendor’s integrity, so do your research before signing.

Be wary of vague contracts. If you’re deciding on a design for your centerpieces, and all you specify is that you’d like them to be all white, you can’t complain if they show up as big bundles of white roses. Work out a design that includes all the flowers you’d like with the substitutions that are acceptable and get this in writing. You can also include a sketch of the design by the florist. This applies to all your vendor contracts, because there’s nothing stopping them from taking shortcuts unless you get exactly what you want in writing.

Some vendors will give a minimum number of guests necessary for them to honor their pricing. Let’s say you’ve invited 120 guests, and your vendor requires at least 100 in order for the pricing they suggested to stay the same. If you end up with 90 guests, the vendor may increase the pricing to make the same total, or ask that you pay for the 10 non-guests that make the difference. Because of this, you should try to get the lowest minimum of guests that you can before signing the contract.

This will sound obvious, but make sure that you check the dates and times on the contracts. If they have your wedding down for Friday instead of Saturday, it’s possible that they’ll schedule something on your real wedding day and you’ll be out of luck. It may not be a huge problem for vendors like your baker and florist, who can deliver to multiple events in a day, but it’s likely to be a much bigger issue for vendors like the venue and photographer.

Watch out for vendors who have unusual cancellation policies. Most vendors have a nonrefundable deposit, which isn’t anything to get upset about, but some will require their costs to be paid in full if the wedding is cancelled less than 90 days before the event. This is strange because 1) that’s a lot of money, and 2) they’ll still have three months to book another client. 60 days, however, is much more reasonable. Some vendors will even be more lenient, which is good news for you.

Look over the details of your contract before you sign it. If you ordered a lemon cake and the baker accidentally wrote down vanilla, there’s not much you can do to fix it once the cake arrives. It’s likely that they won’t look at your order until it’s time to bake the cake, and they’ll definitely have forgotten everything that wasn’t written down. It’s not their fault if they’re just following what you agreed to, so make sure that everything is how you want it before you sign.

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