If you are not a legal guru, then reading contracts can sometimes be very tricky. However, when you are planning an event and working with different businesses to provide services for you, then a contract is a must!
Here are a few tips to help you when it comes down to contracts!
1. Tell the vendors everything you need within your budget: When reaching out to the vendors it is very important that you explain to the vendor your needs or expectations from their business and what you can afford to spend. This helps the vendor determine if they can help you and how they can help you. If you explain that you want a sit down dinner of Mexican cuisine, for 100 people, on a $7,000 dollar food budget, including linen and bar services then the vendor can work with you better to develop a proposal that fits your personal needs. You have to be clear and tell them all your needs so they can add this into your contract so the vendors know what you expect of them and what they are required to do if they are hired for your event.
2. Read EVERYTHING: Read every inch of a contract. At this point, you may have gone back and forth with a vendor on what you need from them and what they can offer you, so the service is properly tailored to your needs. This will be outlined in the contract. More importantly, the vendor’s policies will be outlined here. You need to read every section and understand every policy. You can even ask vendors questions for clarity. There may be room to even negotiate a policy. For example, a venue I worked with had a specific vendor list for their caterers that you were allowed to use. If you used a caterer outside of this list, you were to pay an additional $500. This fee was usually charged to the catering company, but the catering company would add this to your fee. All of this was spelled out in the contract, you just have to read it carefully. You want to avoid any surprise fees. Also, pay attention to every fee that is charged, because these are aligned with your expectations. Some companies charge an additional delivery fee and some don’t. Pay close attention to pay structures (how much and when you pay), the cancellation fee and deadline, and the down payment fee.
3. Negotiating: Don’t be afraid to question some policies. For example, the same venue with the preferred caterer list did not include a company that we were interested in. However, the catering company included the venue on its preferred vendor list. The catering company even offered to pay 5% of your rental fee if you used this particular vendor. After seeing this information, I emailed the venue contact and asked him if we could get around the extra $500 fee because of this information. We were able to avoid the fee because of this. So speak up and read. Negotiate the information that works best for you.
I know contracts are tedious! But its important to have contracts for every business you work with on your event. Even your event planners! Contact me if you need further help with reading and negotiating contracts, I’ve got your back.