After you find that perfect venue for your special day, you want to make sure that it is truly yours.  So make sure that your venue contract has the basic information necessary to avoid last minute budget-busters and/or snafus.

Please check the following information carefully before you sign —

1. Your name(s).  I know this sounds obvious, but there are stories on the web that can make your eyes water.  Most of these stories could have been avoided by checking for simple little mistakes like this.

2. Your wedding date.  Check the day AND date to ensure that all of the information is correct.  Example: If a sales person types Saturday, July 12, 2009 on your contract, you have left your wedding date up to chance since July 12, 2009 falls on a Sunday.  Also, make sure that the year is correct — This may sound obvious, but I have heard stories about brides scrambling to secure a new venue because their wedding contract had the incorrect year.

3. The start AND end time of your wedding day.  This time should allow for the following:

A.) Getting ready (this is only necessary if you plan to get ready at the venue).

B.) Pre-event and/or post-event pictures.

C.) Ample time allotted for your vendors (especially your caterer and your wedding designer)to set-         up beforehand and to tear down after the reception.

4. The actual location.  Making sure that the ceremony and reception space are included on your contract seem obvious, but you don’t want to be surprised with what I call “the okey doke.”  Here’s the “okey doke” scenario: You think you are getting the Grand Ballroom because your salesperson told you it was available on your wedding day.  However, you find out 8 weeks prior to your special day that your wedding is taking place in the Petite Ballroom (very tight fit, but it still works) because the Grand Ballroom wasn’t noted in your contract.  Unfortunately, the Grand Ballroom is no longer available because a venue salesperson assigned that room to another much larger wedding that booked after you signed your contract. If you have nothing in writing regarding the actual room name, you have a challenging battle ahead of you regarding the Grand Ballroom.

Don’t forget the “other” little locations within the venue.  If the following rooms are included with your wedding and/or reception, please ask your sales contact to have them included in the contract — Your dressing area (if needed), the ancillary space (i.e. a veranda or a rooftop for pictures), storage area and possibly the space that the catering staff needs to prep the food.

5. Payment terms.  Ensure that the payment terms are detailed in your contract.  This is for your protection and the venue’s protection.

6. Service fees.  Service fees and taxes can easily chip away your budget dollars if you are not aware of them in the beginning, so ask that all of the various fees are included in your contract prior to signature.  Service fees can include (but are not limited to) set-up fees, bartender fees, cake cutting fees, corkage fees, coat check staff fees, and buffet station attendant fees.

7. Staffing and Vendors.  Does the venue include additional staffing (i.e., baker, deejay, master of ceremonies)?  If it does, make sure that the details are included in the contract.

Also, ask them if outside wedding vendors are allowed to work at your preferred venue (especially if you have already hired some of these outside vendors for your wedding).  You may find that some venues only allow their “approved” vendors to work at weddings to accommodate their strict contracts or insurance policies.  FYI: The venue’s approved vendors list can include (but is not limited to)bakers, deejay or bands, photographer and videographer.

This list includes the BASIC information needed in your contract.  There are several contracts clauses (such as the actual terms of the contract, cancellation, and acts of God), that should also be included, but we will cover those on another day.

Love & Soul Always, Kay