What to Look for in Your Wedding Venue Contract

Wondering what you should check for in your wedding venue contract? We're here to help! So, continue reading to learn more about it.

By Shira Telushkin

What to Know/Look for in Your Wedding Venue Contract
Photo by Zola

One of the most greatest costs associated with your wedding is your wedding venue, especially if you choose a professional venue, a destination spot, or a historic property. And while this might be the only wedding venue contract that you ever sign, the wedding venues have worked with hundreds and thousands of couples before to fine-tune their paperwork.

So, take your time reviewing and reading the entire wedding venue contract before you sign on the dotted line. Ask all the questions you need to clarify all details, and ensure that everything is explicitly mentioned. To get you on your way, here are a few pointers from Zola on what to look for in your wedding venue contract.

The Basics

This might seem rudimentary, but little typos can result in much larger issues. Ensure that the names of all parties and all contact information are correct in your wedding venue contract, and that the wedding date and time, along with the duration of the event, including any prep and breakdown times before and after, are clearly stated.

The areas of your venue that you will have access to, and which areas are off-limits, plus any provided amenities (like a room for the wedding party to get ready) should also be specified. Are children allowed? What about pets? If you have additional vendors that need access, then list them and check that there are no restrictions to third-party arrivals.

The Venue

Your wedding venue contract should clearly state the floor plan and seating options available, along with what the venue will provide versus what you will need to arrange for. Any accessibility features provided for those with mobility challenges must be addressed. Ask for an itemized list of all services provided—from staff to linens, and parking to drink service—so that you know exactly what you are paying for and what additional costs you will incur.

Your contract should also specify your one point of contact and correspondence for all venue-related details, whether that’s a manager or planner. Proof of insurance and a liquor license must also be furnished, and if you have any special arrangements that you need, especially if your wedding includes any traditional elements, such as a ceremonial fire for a Hindu wedding, then it must be stated on the contract in no uncertain terms.

The Money

Check and cross-check that your wedding venue contract lists all fees associated with your wedding day, including all costs for the wedding service before, during, and after, and then provides the total amount. Remember, one missing or misplaced zero could cause your whole budget to be in ruins.

  • What are the different due dates for payment?
  • What are the different deposits and advances?
  • What are the timelines (if you are paying in installments)?
  • What are the acceptable payment methods—all of this must be clearly written?

Considering the uncertainty of recent global events, it is crucial that the contract also mentions clearly and concisely what the wedding venue refund and cancellation policy (plus fee) is, should there be any emergency or disruption from your end or theirs on the set wedding date.

The What Ifs

Not every scenario can be accounted for, but there are some that every wedding venue has experienced or is at least knowledgeable about and should clearly state in its contract regarding that will be addressed.

  • If your venue is outdoors and the weather turns party pooper, what will the venue organizers do?
  • If you don’t have all your wedding vendors finalized by the wedding contract signing date, how will the venue manager accommodate that?
  • If the venue cannot fulfill the arrangements that they promised or, under some bizarre circumstance, must cancel your wedding ceremony, then what processes and penalties are in play?

Your wedding event contract must cover all of these possibilities and provide a copy for both parties’ records.

The Wedding Day

Aside from all the wedding planning, the planning for the actual day of the wedding is integral. Your wedding venue contract must clearly state a rundown of the day itself as you discussed with the venue organizer, including a schedule of how the day progresses, which activities happen when and where, and who will be available from the venue to answer any questions on the spot.

Watch out for any language referencing prohibitions or restrictions on this day, and clarify right away or add any clauses or exceptions to ensure that you are not adversely affected. Be mindful of any taxes, special fees, or additional gratuities that you might not have come across elsewhere. Some companies choose to apply a standard gratuity fee for their seasonal special event staff, while some wedding venues have special fees for using their historic property for a wedding—all of these must be stated up front in your wedding venue contract.

The Specialized Requests

Not all cultures have similar wedding day arrangements, so be aware that any special requests must be made up front and included in your wedding venue contract.

  • If you are using pre-approved vendors suggested by the venue organizers, but need a unique celebration dish made by your local bakery, will that be permitted?
  • Are there restrictions on noise levels or party ornaments if music and dance play a big role in the festivities?
  • What about strong fragrances such as traditional incense, frankincense, or rose water used in some Muslim weddings—will the venue allow that?

Clearly communicating with the manager and ensuring that all of this is explicitly addressed in the wedding venue contract is integral to ensuring a smooth wedding day event.

To ensure complete peace of mind, inviting legal advice on the wedding venue contract is not a bad idea at all and is recommended if you feel all the legalese and formal language in the contract needs additional attention and assurance. But, with these pointers, you are on your way to handling your wedding venue contract like a pro.

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