Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Read your contracts

Given my chosen profession, one would think that I would be a bit more on top of (1) reading wedding-related contracts, and (2) voicing my concerns when discrepancies arise between the contract and oral representations made before receiving the contract.

Can you tell from this introduction that this is not always the case?

When Mr. Spaniel and I visited our venue for the first time, the site coordinator told us that the room that we were most interested in was available with a 100-person minimum. It was usually a 150-person minimum, but since our wedding was in the off-season, they could work with us. Great! We were hoping for 130 people at the time (with a 150-person guest list), so that would suit us just fine. She also told us that a champagne toast would be provided "as our gift to you." Nice! We really wanted a champagne toast, and were happy to receive it for no additional cost.

When I returned to the venue with Papa Spaniel, the coordinator had not relayed to the rest of the staff that the minimum was being waived (or reduced). We weren't willing to spend nearly $125 per person when said person was not in attendance, so it was a do-or-die kind of clause: if they couldn't meet our requirements, we weren't having our wedding there. Luckily, we received a call from the coordinator—misunderstanding, of course we'll honor... Awesome! Problem solved.

Why was I not so proactive about the champagne toast? I received a contract which did not include the champagne toast, and which listed the cost at $4 additional per person. I noticed this immediately. I signed the contract and returned it with the first deposit, and did not bring it up. I submitted the second deposit, and I did not bring it up. I considered also not bringing it up until the details meeting with the venue coordinator in November. If I ever got my sleeping bear of a temper (or at least of a person insistent of getting what I was promised) awake, I would certainly have fought for this to be included. I felt bad that I let this one slip.

Luckily, Mr. Spaniel took over for me and mentioned the champagne toast at the details meeting. As it turns out, the open bar serves champagne (which I did not realize before), and a glass of champagne with a strawberry garnish will be handed to guests after the ceremony on their way into the reception (the "gift" about which the coordinator was referring). People are welcome to toast with whatever they would like to drink. This works for me! Since a lot of people don't like champagne anyway, people can toast with whatever is in their glass (and that can be champagne if they want it to be).

Did you run into any of these kinds of contractual issues? Were you as big a chicken as I was about any of them? ;)


  1. When Kris and I got married, the reception venue had two different options when it came to alcohol: serve it from the bar, or serve it from the tables. There were several different options as far as paying for the bar (hosted, partially hosted, cash only, etc.), but what wasn't explained to us was that the two were not interconnected. Thus, when we bought what we thought was the bar minimum in wine to have out at each table, we got a slightly rude awakening halfway through the reception: "the bar is only about 1/4 of the way to minimum; tell your guests to drink up" (paraphrased).

    We had a nice discussion with the event coordinator the following Monday (shortly before leaving on our honeymoon) and were able to sort it out, especially since it was her suggestion instead of ours to have the wine on the tables. That said, they could have stuck to the terms of the contract and we would have had a lot of hassle going through small claims in order to avoid paying an extra $500.

    Call them asap and get that $4 per glass expunged while you still can. It will come back to bite you if you let it wait.

  2. Well, it wasn't a matter of having it "expunged" because it wasn't part of the contract yet--all we've signed is the base and we get to decide what menu and extras we want at the four month meeting. The matter would have been resolved either way without us paying $4: either they would have included it for free, or we weren't doing the special toast.

    Now I know the fee is for servers to go around and fill a glass of champagne for each person at the time of the toast, and that's not worth $4 to me (especially now that I know that they already get a glass earlier), so people can toast with whatever they like to drink. If that's champagne, they are welcome to it. ;)


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