Contracts are often overlooked in wedding businesses because they aren’t the sexiest thing in the world. They may not be sexy but they are important. Here are 7 good reasons why you need a contract, and not just some random one you found online, a good one that is legally binding and that protects you and your business.
1. It clarifies expectations
A (good) contract lays out the expectations you have for your client and the expectations they can have for you. This doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal but when you consider that most disappointed or upset clients can be tracked back to a misunderstanding of expectations, you can imagine how much easier this actually can make your life. This eliminates that “When will you be delivering my photos?” emails, the “But I thought you were going to do that” conversations and the “I didn’t know you needed that information by a certain date” hangups. Your contract makes sure that everyone is on the same page and this alone eliminates SO many headaches.
Your contract allows you to lay out important details like ownership of artistic property & copyright and inform your client on the way that they are allowed to share things like photos. It also allows you to set boundaries so that you aren’t on call 24/7.
2. It holds your client accountable
When your client signs your contact they are agreeing to the terms laid out. That means they are to pay you on the dates specified and get you the information you need long before the last minute scrambling begins. It also educates your clients about what you need from them because chances are they have no idea. This isn’t something they do every day.
3. It holds you accountable
Just as a contract holds your clients accountable, it holds you accountable as well so that there is a mutual agreement and protection in place. If you want your clients to feel cared about and valuable, having a contract that protects both of you is essential.
4. It gives you a way to remedy any misunderstandings
Sometimes even if you have a contract misunderstandings happen. Maybe someone read through the contract but months later doesn’t recall a specific clause. That’s not a problem if you have a contract because you can refer back to it and see what you both mutually agreed to. There is no he-said she-said bullshit when you have it in writing.
5. It ensures no one gets screwed over
If either you or your client does not fulfil your agreed about responsibilities, your contract protects you from getting screwed over. Obviously the goal is not to end up taking this to court but if you have to, you can and your contract will serve as a record of what you and your client agreed to.
6. It ensures you get paid and when that happens
If you value getting paid, you need a contract. It is the document that you can fall back on when someone is refusing to pay you. It’s also the document that outlines when the client will pay you via your payment terms. This varies among wedding professionals. Maybe you want them to pay you 50% now and 50% 7 days before the wedding. Maybe you want them to pay you in monthly installments. This is where you lay that out and your client agrees to pay you.
7. It builds a professional relationship
You’re a professional and that means conducting business in a professional manner. Having a contract shows that you’re serious about your business and that you want to protect yourself and your clients.
Couples are signing a contract with one another when they get married and some sign pre-nuptial agreements. If two people who are in love with each other are signing contracts with one another, don’t you think having them sign one with you, someone they aren’t in love with, is probably a good idea? You may never need to take a client to court to get your money (and that’s great!) but you will have to lay out expectations in a professional way so having a contract just makes sense.
Obviously I’m not a lawyer but my very smart friend Annette Stepanian is and she has done-for you, easy to customize contract templates specific to several different creative industries that are iron clad and will protect you. Don’t do that thing where you just swipe a random contract off the internet. This is your business we’re talking about, not a bootleg movie.