Everything you need to know about wedding venue contracts
Once you’ve settled on the venue you wish to hold your wedding reception in, a handshake won’t do. You’ll need to sign a formal - and legally binding - contract and it should contain detailed information about the venue’s obligations and what they will provide, as well as your own obligations.
Be sure to read it thoroughly before signing it because, once you do, you’re bound by the conditions it contains - whether you've read it or not.
Here are just some of the items you can expect to see contained in any contract between yourself and your wedding reception venue:
* Your full names and the exact date and time of your wedding, which should give you some recourse if your venue double books.
* The total amount you will be paying the venue and an itemised list of what is included and how much each element costs.
* A payment schedule showing the deposit amount and when it was paid, along the amount outstanding and by when that needs to be settled.
* Details of the venue’s cancellation and refund policy and, preferably, the latest possible cancellation date for your specific wedding and any consequences of a cancellation.
* The actual location of your wedding reception and the ceremony, if applicable. For example, are you holding your wedding reception outdoors, in the venue's grounds, or in their grand ballroom Is your reception taking place in the grand library of a stately home or the dining room
* An itemised list of what the venue will provide on the day from the top table to the cake knife.
* The name and contact details of the venue’s representative who is responsible for your wedding reception and who you should contact with any questions.
* Details of any insurances or licenses the venue is obliged to hold such as public liability insurance or a license to serve alcohol.
Of course, there will be certain aspects of your wedding day that you won’t be able to arrange with your venue until well after your initial contract is signed. They should, however, still provide you with details of these in writing as you agree on them.
You should ask your venue to provide the following pieces of information - in writing:
1. A detailed itinerary of your day, including, where relevant, when you and your wedding suppliers can access your reception rooms; when drinks will be served to your guests; what time your wedding breakfast will be served and how long it is expected to last; what time your band or DJ are able to set up and complete a sound check and by what time you and your guests must vacate the venue.
2. A list of the suppliers that the venue is using including the caterers, florists, entertainers and photographer, along with contact details for each supplier. This, of course, assumes that you’re not hiring these wedding suppliers individually – and many couples will be doing so.
3. A final copy of the menu for your wedding meal including any special dishes for vegetarians or guests with specific dietary requirements, and the type of drinks that will be served with each course.
4. A specific description of the parts of the venue that you have access to including reception rooms, a storeroom, the cloakroom, bathrooms, and sections of the grounds – as well as whether or not you have exclusive use of those areas.
Over the course of your wedding planning, you will talk with your venue about various aspects of your wedding reception and agree to them verbally but unless you actually get the arrangements in writing, you won’t necessarily be able to enforce them should the need arise.
So, be sure to get these things confirmed in writing. An email to the vendor them asking them to confirm what has been discussed and agreed upon is always a good idea.
Their reply, which, presumably will confirm the arrangements, will give you a lot more security as to your rights and expectations come your big day.