As if wedding planning isn't already stressful enough, now we have Covid-19 still in the mix of things almost a year later. So many questions floating around & still lots of uncertainty for 2021 weddings. Let's try to simplify it. (PSA- I am not an attorney, but have paid to consult one)
First and foremost, depending on WHEN you booked your vendor, things might vary a little bit. Vendors didn't know a pandemic was going to hit us all back in 2019. Some vendors may have sent out contract clauses or updates to add in information about Covid-19 protocols, others may just send addendums, or maybe no changes at all! All vendors are different & we do things we feel is right for our business, our clients, and our reputations.
So, how do you navigate vendor contracts? How do we all keep things fair? What is Force Majeure? What is a postponement fee? Why is your retainer non-refundable?
1) Reading / Understanding Contracts: When you decide(d) to book with a vendor, you should carefully read each clause and asked questions if you don't understand the meaning prior to signing the thing. It is OKAY to ask questions or get clarification on something. So, if you don't know what "Force Majeure" means, just ask!
2) Common Clauses & What They Mean:
3) Protection For Both Parties: Please don't think contracts are solely to protect the vendor. They are 100% meant to cover both parties involved. For example, I have a clause that should I be deathly sick or something of the sort, I will try to find a replacement artist at the SAME cost for you. Or, a clause stating that you get to keep your original rates should you need to postpone, even if the vendor has raised them.
4) Contract Addendums & Flexibility: Many vendors are releasing new Covid-19 contract addendums, or if you have postponed more than once, a whole new contract. These are very specific to state regulations, event specifics, monies paid, etc. If you have (very sadly) chosen to postpone more than once, or the contract is entering into a whole new year (2019 to 2020 to 2021), then it will likely be considered voided and you may receive a whole new contract with all updated terms. Some vendors offer more flexibility on this & I suggest asking their policy. We want to work WITH you, not against you.
5) Non-refundable Retainers: This is a touchy subject, and rightfully so- it's about money! When you pay a retainer, that means that vendor closes that date on their calendar and turns (sometimes dozens) of requests away because you secured their services first. Should you decide to postpone or cancel & the vendor cannot accommodate the new date (or transfer your retainer), it is very likely your retainer will not be refunded. This is because that vendor has now lost an entire day of income that you had reserved. This retainer amount is also used as working capital. For many of us vendors, we put in hours of work prior to your event day. This includes: consult calls, emails, timeline planning, other vendor communication, site visits, tastings, samples, etc., etc. That retainer fee compensates us for our time on those aspects.
I truly hope this helps some of you navigate your way through the mess that Covid-19 has created. I can't stress enough that wedding vendors are in the industry because we love LOVE, and are extremely customer service driven people. We sympathize so incredibly much with each and every one of you, and a lot of the policies we have adopted are so that we can still afford to BE in business when this mess is over with. So please reach out, have conversations, ask questions, and remember that we are all human & are all in this together.
Sending SO much love out,
Hillary Fay, Vermont Makeup Artist.