Did you get a chance to see me speak (x 3) at the Wedding MBA 2014 in Las Vegas? I hope so. If not, here’s a recap of my seminar titled “Loopholes: Three Clauses Your Wedding Business Contract is Missing.”
The following are three clauses that wedding business professionals may consider placing in their service contracts. Ask your local Wedding Lawyer if these are right for you:
Generally, plaintiffs in breach of contract cases are entitled only to specified, identifiable damages. “Bridezilla Lawsuits” are an exception. Cases across the country support the idea that, because weddings are once in a lifetime occasions, clients may seek alternative theories of recovery and collect from vendors greater amounts of damages. Incorporating a ‘Limited Liability’ clause into a client contract may limit the damages that a former client may recover in court. Generally, such a clause limits the money damages that may be recovered to the amount of money that the client actually paid under the contract.
By way of example, let’s say that the wedding planner is late, causing the event schedule to be thrown off by an hour. As a consequence, the client must pay $5000 extra to keep all other vendors at the event for an extra hour (think DJs, Photographers, Videographers, etc). If the contract between the wedding planner and the client is $3000 and includes a properly drafted Limited Liability clause, then the maximum that the wedding planner would owe to the client for the snafu is $3000.
In the American judicial system, the general rule is that parties in a lawsuit must pay their own attorney’s fees. Some Federal and State statutes will shift the payment of attorney’s fees to the winner (e.g. a victorious plaintiff in a copyright infringement claim may be awarded reasonable lawyer fees, among other damages), but by and large, everyone has to pay to play. According to my tort professor and Wikipedia, this rule is set up to encourage people to bring claims without having to worry about paying extra in the event that the claim is lost. Yay lawsuits!
This doesn’t mean that the wedding business professional is prevented from contracting around this rule. For example, the parties can agree that should the wedding vendor have to chase the client for payment, the client shall pay for all reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
Venue Policy Clause:
Does everyone remember this Officiant scolding the videographers mid-ceremony? Let’s say that the Officiant actually did stop the ceremony, a Bridezilla might then try and claim that the videographer breached the contract by failing to capture the entirety of the event. The wedding business professional can cover their butts with a ‘Venue Policy’ Clause.
A Venue Policy Clause basically provides that the parties agree that the wedding vendor is obligated to adhere to the policies, guidelines, and prohibitions set forth by the venue where the event takes place. So, if the venue says “music stops at 10pm,” but the contract says, “music stops at 10:30pm,” the DJ is not torn between getting a cord cut or a potential lawsuit.
Non-Disparagement (‘No-Review’) Clause:
Just kidding. I generally do NOT recommend that a business place a non-disparagement clause in their service contract. You can read more about my feelings on no-review clauses here.