Most brides enjoy the excitement of wedding planning and seeing your visions come to life. You meet with vendors, sign contracts and all is well. Then it happens, you must make contract changes – it may be as large as the date or location. Or it can be as small as adding five guests to your meal count with your caterer.
Changes made after the contract is signed are the most frequent disputes about the terms of wedding vendor contracts, Why? Because the parties agreed verbally on changes in a stressful atmosphere. The bride is relieved the changes were made. The vendor is pleased to have a happy bride. Then they are forgotten or misunderstood and the change is not documented. The result is there is no legal proof of what change was made and they are never done.
So, how do you protect yourself legally(and emotionally), and make sure your changes occur as you verbally agreed? It is much simpler than you think:
Insist that all contract changes are in writing.
While changes are often made verbally, and when everyone is in a rush, they still must be documented as carefully, if not more so, than the original contract. The little details of a change can be easily overlooked or forgotten in the hustle and bustle of planning and then remain undone on your wedding day (tears, frustration, anger).
Follow this rule of thumb: If the items is important/large enough to be covered by a written contract, the same standard should be applied to any changes.
Have the vendor create an amended contract, signed by all the original contract signers. It should reference the original contact, contain all the terms exactly as agreed upon in the original contract , (except the one being changed which, reflects the changes.) Include a statement that the amended contract supersedes the original contract.
Entire New Contract
If you are going to sign an entire new contract, make sure you compare it to the signed original before signing. You need to verify all other terms are as you originally agreed, and the modified terms you verbally agreed to correct and included. Pay particular attention to any modifications made to the original contract and that they are incorporated into the new amended contract. I know, it will take time, but you will be glad you took this extra step if any disputes occur later.
Single Contract Changes of Terms
If the amendment only addresses the single issue that is being changed, rather than a full new contract, the amendment should state that all other terms of the original contract remain in force.
Minor Contract Changes
For minor changes, you may send the vendor an email or text stating the change and asking him/her to reply acknowledging and accepting the changes. Don’t be surprised or upset if you do not get a response Keep sending requests and making calls until you get the written acknowledgement.
Here is a sample email or text for minor changes:
You: Hi Pamela, I am confirming our earlier conversation where we agreed that you will add five additional adult meals to our contract for an additional $250. Please confirm by return text/ email that this is correct.
Pamela. : Yes, that is correct. Thanks.
You have now modified your contract and confirmed the modification in writing. How easy was that!
Keep the correspondence for your records. Make a note with your original contract of when and what modifications were made, and where you stored the documentation.
Authorized to Make Contract Changes
Make sure an individual authorized by the vendor to change your contract provides the acknowledgement to you. Your vendor may transfer performance of the contract to an assistant once it is signed. Then when changes are needed, the assistant (usually in good faith) agrees to them on behalf of the vendor. These changes may not be legally binding on the vendor if teh assistant is not authorized to make changes. Don’t assume that anyone other than a signer of original contract can make changes to it.
Fortunately, it is rare when a vendor does not stand behind commitments made by his/her staff. When it does happen, it is a large or expensive change being disputed. If the vendor claims he/she did not authorize the change, it may not be enforceable under the contract (a costly monetary and/or emotional mistake for you).
You can avoid any confusion, by requesting the vendor include in the original contract who, if anyone, other than the signers of the original contract can make modifications on behalf of the vendor.
Verify that who has the authority to make changes for you is included in the original contract. The bride and groom sign most wedding contracts jointly and individually. If you do so, the contract should clearly state whether both signatures are required for a change or if either can act on the behalf of both.
Follow Up with Your Vendors on Contract Changes
I am sure you plan to follow up with your vendors a few days before the wedding. You will resolve any unanswered questions and verify all the details. This is a great time to reaffirm that any contract changes you made are incorporated into your plans as agreed. You will relax when you know they have not been overlooked by the vendor.
Again, these seem like another bothersome detail to consume your time. We hope there are no issues with wedding or you vendors. Most weddings do occur with no major problems. But on the rare occasion when you have to refer back to your contract, you will be glad you took the time to document the details.
The author and Ceremonies provided the information in this post to serve as general information and guidance. It does not constitute or serve in place of specific legal advice and does not create any attorney-client relationship. The law changes very rapidly, differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and is subject to interpretation by the courts. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and this post should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
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