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Anatomy of a Contract

Hi friends!

2021 was a hell of a year, right? Events were shut down, virtual and hybrid events were huge and we've been transitioning back into live events. Covid has changed the landscape of hospitality and events, and as event professionals, we’ve had to change with it. Working with vendors who have contracts has always been important, but moving into 2022, contracts are so incredibly vital to protecting yourself and your event partners as we navigate the ever-changing world of events in the covid era. With that being said, I need to stress that I’m not a lawyer and if you have questions about specific contract language, please please please refer to legal counsel!

According to the Events Industry Council’s APEX Contract Accepted Practices, a contract is defined as “an agreement between two or more parties that creates in each party a duty to do or not do something and a right to performance of the others’ duty or a remedy for the breach of the other’s duty” (Events Industry Council, 2006). In basic terms, this outlines what each person’s responsibilities are, and what happens if the things don’t get done.

In general, every contract should include the following:

  • Names of the parties in the agreement

  • Status or title of the signatory parties

  • Date the contract is issued

  • Date by when the contract must be signed and returned

  • List of items & services being rendered

  • Details of fees & charges

  • Payment schedule

  • Cancellation schedule

  • Other pertinent legal clauses, which may include force majeure, cancellation, liabilities, insurance requirements, etc.

The items listed above are basics that any contract should have. But if you’ve planned an event before, you know that a caterer provides very different services than an AV provider, who does something totally different than a florist, so you have to make sure that contracts cover items that are specific to that particular provider. Figuring out what to look for in each contract can be overwhelming for a first-time social event planner and time consuming for someone working with corporate events.

The solution? Get yourself an event planner! When I work with clients to plan events, I review contracts, note important dates and payment information and negotiate with vendors to determine if any concessions or discounts are available. Since I look at contracts pretty regularly, I have a good idea of questions to ask to make sure that you, as the client, get what you need from your vendor team.

And can we make a deal in 2022? Let’s not do any of this “handshake agreement” business. Your bestest bestie ever might say they want to make a beautiful wedding cake for you. You KNOW they’ll take care of you…until they don’t. Life happens, and if Bestie McBesterson decides they can’t make your cake after you’ve already given them money, you’re pretty much SOL if you don’t have any type of contract in place. This is also a GREAT (read: terrible) way to ruin a relationship by going into business with someone without establishing any parameters. There are so many resources available for creating simple contracts, that there’s no reason to do handshake agreements in 2022.

So to wrap up this blog and 2021…let’s make contracts a thing in 2022! If you've been diligent about using them, good on you! If your contract game has been hit or miss, make sure you're getting them from the vendors working to make your event amazing. And if you're feeling like dealing with multiple contracts from vendors is too much, give me a call! Even if you don't need assistance with full-on event planning, I can definitely help with reviewing and negotiating contracts.

Happy New Year...and Happy Contracting!

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