Dear Petal’s Edge,
My fiance and I have been noticing that legal contracts really can differ from vendor to vendor. Some seem very loose, and some seem very strict. I’m not terribly concerned about it, as many of the companies we are looking at have great reviews, but my fiancé is a law student and has been really spending a lot of time looking over the contracts. There are a couple in which he wants to have the vendor adjust before we sign – not just on things specific to the wedding (like timing, flower types, and menus), but more in the nitty-gritty legal language – stuff that would probably only be relevant if we sued them (yikes!). Is this something you can or should do with your vendors?
– Becca C.
Thank you for asking this, as we find this occasionally comes up with some of our clients! The simple answer is yes, of course you can ask, but before you do, you should consider quite a few things.
First, what is your goal in changing this contractual detail? If this is a make or break detail, then by all means, bring it up. But if this is primarily about tweaking the legal language to sound more friendly, then I encourage you to step back a bit. Consider this: your wedding vendors are likely not lawyers. They most likely didn’t draw up their contracts. They probably, at good expense, had their own lawyers draw up the contract. So when it comes to small details, they might not be fully aware of all the legal ramifications of changing the legal language to suit you. A responsible company would would need to go back to their lawyers and have them look over your comments – knowing this was not their area of expertise but rather the attorney’s. Given that most wedding vendors are small businesses, this could be a very sizeable and unexpected business expense.
Additionally, think about why a contract is needed. If there is a problem, sure, the contract will help if you sue them, but it isn’t going to bring back your wedding day for a do-over. If you are concerned about something going wrong, the most important thing for you to consider when choosing a vendor is their reputation. If they are reputable, their motivation for doing a good job is to to keep you happy and not what the contract says. They do not want a bad online review from you. If you get so far as to go to court, their reputation has likely already been damaged beyond repair.
In truth, the contract is there more often to protect them. Remember that weddings are an emotional time, and there is very little room for error. People can have extremely high expectations for a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding. If you do decide they did a poor job executing your food, flowers or music (which is often a very subjective thing), and take them to court, a strong contract will hopefully help the judge tease out what happened and make a fair judgement on the situation, possibly keeping them from personal bankruptcy. It may be a lot of money to you, but to them their whole livelihood is on the line.
Finally, consider this: would you ask cell phone or credit card provider to tweak their contract? Those long, fairly unreadable, eye-crossing contracts that come up every time you buy an app are exactly the same thing that the wedding vendor is offering you. It may seem more appropriate to question their legal language since you have interacted with them face-to-face, but it’s really not any different.
So, in the end, our answer is to vote with your feet, the same way you might do with a sketchy cell phone provider. If their legal language is a problem, then by all means, mention that as the reason they won’t get your business, and give them a chance to correct it. Maybe it’s something they have heard repeatedly and think they should change on their own. But please don’t expect to just change their contract so that you can have it be exactly the way you want it to be.
We hope that helps!
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