Specify the kind of meal (lunch or dinner, buffet or seated); the number of courses and size of the portions; what beverages will be served; the size and style of dishes and glassware; and whether the wedding cake is included in the price. Also discuss the size of the serving staff, and ask about overtime charges, taxes, and whether gratuities are included.
Because catering a wedding takes so much coordination, you may see a contract clause enforcing the "one week" rule, meaning you must finalize all details seven days prior to the event or incur extra fees. Another item to look for is liability insurance. While most midsize to large companies carry their own insurance, small vendors may not -- in which case you may want to add a rider to your existing homeowners or renter's policy.
A contract with the florist should spell out the number of bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and corsages on order, as well as any decoration for the ceremony and reception locations. Discuss charges for accessories, such as an aisle runner, ribbons, and vases. You should also list any particular flowers you want, allowing for the possibility of substitutions by specifying your second choices. But it's best to leave the specifics up to the florist -- something he will undoubtedly want written into the contract.
Any contract for music -- whether you are using a band or a disc jockey -- should record the time of arrival and departure. It's a good idea to state who has the authority to let the music go into overtime, so you're not suddenly charged for an extra hour thanks to the well-intentioned initiative of some exuberant guests. You can also specify particular songs, the duration of sets, and whether prerecorded music will be played during the breaks. Be sure to specify the names of the musicians who will be there. You probably hired particular performers because you liked what you heard at another event or on a demo tape, and you don't want to discover at the last minute that the lead singer's cousin is filling in.
Hairstylists and Makeup Artists
As with the musicians, specify the name of the artist you are booking. Also include the number of people the stylist is taking care of, and whether she'll stay to do post-ceremony touch-ups.
These contracts should state how long the photographer or videographer will spend covering the event; what she'll wear; your preference for black-and-white, color, or both; and your choice of formal portraits, candid shots, or a combination. It should also detail what is included in the total fee -- which albums and how many prints for the photographer, how many videos and the editing cost and style for the videographer, and the cost of materials, hotel stays, and any other extras -- and when you can expect to receive the finished product. Some experts advise you not to pay a photographer or videographer in full until you see and approve the final result.
The Rental Company
Contracts for rental items such as tables and chairs need to state the time and date of delivery and retrieval. If you don't arrange for same-day or next-morning pickup, you may be charged a fee by the reception site.
The Car and Driver
A contract for a car to transport the couple or guests from one location to another can cover matters from the fiscal, such as tolls and parking fees, to the stylistic, including the make and color of the car, amenities inside the vehicle, and the attire of the driver.
Don't overlook the making or fitting of your own wedding attire. To be sure the bride's dress will be done on time and there won't be any charges for extra fittings or fabric, get it in writing. The groom should have his details -- the style of his tux and shirt, and the size of his shoes written down in a contract, too