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What Every Couple Needs to Know About Contracts

Contracts can be the most confusing and difficult part of planning a wedding. Keep in mind that this is a business arrangement. You're the customer and you are contracting with certain businesses to provide the services you request on a certain date, at a certain time, and within a certain budget. Contracts are a must when doing business with the many types of wedding-related services. Your wedding is an emotional experience; but remember, money is changing hands. A contract will spell out everything in black and white. If the business doesn't have a formal contract, write up your own and have them sign it. Estimates are a good first step, but they aren't final. Many brides have been shocked a week before their wedding when a supplier has said, "We had a price increase in the last six months: Now it will cost this much for what you want." Remember, you carry a book filled with other options.

BEWARE of contracts you feel pressured to sign! Make sure you don't sign something that you haven't thoroughly read or don't understand. Never sign a contract that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you can't afford. A contract is a legally binding document that commits you to the service or provider. Be well informed about what you are signing; ask questions, or take a copy of it home to look over if you have any hesitation at all. Be sure the contract spells everything out including refunds and damages if something happens to the venue or supplier and they cancel or can't fulfill their part of the agreement.

The best way to research a business is to ask for references and then take the time to call them. This way you will rapidly discover if the services or merchandise were provided or delivered as promised. There are state and private agencies that can provide information on a business's reputation. Don't be afraid to call them.

In most cases a deposit is required to place an order formally or to reserve a certain date. Brides and grooms make the common mistake of assuming that the reception site is reserved based on a verbal commitment for date and time. The agreement is not always valid, let alone recorded, until after the deposit has been received.
Do not make cash deposits! Always use a check or charge card so that you have a legal record of money changing hands.

YOU'RE THE CUSTOMER! Always remember that you're the customer! Even though this can be an emotional time, don't settle for less than what was contracted for. Insist on the best service and accept nothing less. You may be spending more money on this one day than most people spend in a year! Make the most of your investment and do it your way.