Protect Your Wedding: Get it in Writing
Tale of Woe #1:
This one comes from my colleague Denise, whose friend “Jane” recently had a gorgeous Northern California wedding. A year before her event, Jane fell in love with the portfolio of a photographer she found online. After a long and pleasant phone conversation, she booked him as her wedding photographer. She felt it was fate: she adored his work and he had the date available. Done deal.
Fast forward to three months before the wedding: The photographer calls to announce he has to adjust his package pricing, because he’s switching his business from film photography to digital. During the call, he assures Jane that the quality of her photos will be equal to the quality of the pictures that originally got her attention. She felt uneasy about the price hike, but with only three months until her wedding, there wasn’t time to find another photographer—and she was crazy about his photographic style.
Alas, when Jane finally saw her wedding photos she was heartbroken. She tearfully told Denise that the pictures resembled family snapshots taken with a point-and-shoot camera. When she asked for advice, Denise had to break it to her friend that with no contract and no email correspondence confirming the original price quoted, there was nothing to be done. In the end, this poor bride paid for her mistake—literally!—by shelling out almost $5,000 for second-rate digital photography.
Black & White Lesson:
Specify in writing ALL the services, products and pricing you want your contract to include. Would you be shattered if the hotel switched your ballroom on you? Would the absence of singer Jerry Canary from the band you hired ruin your reception? If tulips are unavailable for your bouquet, would you expect to be told in advance (and given the chance to choose from among replacement options)?
The devil is in the details, so make sure your contracts cover everything, from the name of the room(s) you’ve reserved and the hours you’ll have access to them, to the number and flavor of the layers in your cake. Also, be wary of any location representative or event professional that only “corresponds” via the phone. Wedding professionals who don’t put their prices in writing might as well have the word “shady” tattooed on their foreheads.