The Ultimate Guide to Booking your Perfect Venue, Part 3: Venue Contract

Business of Events podcast for event planners and wedding planners

Today, we’re tackling a topic that’s a bit of a necessary evil in our line of work: contracts. Specifically, we’re zooming in on venue contracts. But hey, before we get started, let me make one thing clear: I’m no Elle Woods! One time I sat through a law school class with an ex-boyfriend and it was the most boring hour of my life! I am a planner. I can not give out legal advice, but I can tell you what I look out for in a contract through these event planner eyes.

Why Venue Contracts are a Big Deal

I have learned the hard way that if it is not in the contract, it isn’t happening! I don’t care how many walkthroughs you did and all the promises the venue coordinator made you, if it is not written down, it is not guaranteed. That is why getting everything in writing is key.

Key Points to Look Out For in your Venue Contract

Now, let’s talk detail. Here are some crucial elements you need to pay attention to in venue contracts:

1. Know Your Fees Inside Out: Make sure you’re crystal clear on all the fees involved, from the basic rental fee to sneaky extras like valet charges, security costs, trash removal, and catering fees. Trust me, you don’t want any surprises popping up later.

2. What’s the Cancellation Policy?: Life happens, right? So, understand what the venue’s cancellation policy is, especially when it comes to unexpected curveballs like pandemics or natural disasters (called Force Majeure events in legalese). You want to be clear on what happens to your deposit and event if something happens that is beyond your, and your venue’s control.

3. Say Cheese (or Not): Keep an eye out for any clauses about photography rights. Some venues sneak in clauses allowing them to use photos of your event for their marketing. If that’s a no-go for you, make sure to cross it out and get it initialed.

4. Get Specific About Setup and Breakdown: Don’t leave room for confusion. Make sure the contract spells out exactly which rooms you are getting and when you can access them for setup and breakdown. Trust me, you don’t want any last-minute surprises on event day.

5. Watch Out for Extra Charges: If your event ends up being a smash hit and you exceed your attendee limit or time limit, know what extra charges you might face. No one likes unexpected fees ruining the party vibe.

6. Dates, Dates, Dates: Triple-check all the dates in the contract. Seriously, mistakes happen, and the last thing you want is to realize you booked the wrong day. It is more common than you think.

Start Big, Then Work Small

Lastly, a pro tip: when planning your event, start with the big stuff first. Think venue, AV setup, and major logistics. Then, once you’ve got the big picture sorted, you can dive into the nitty-gritty details like custom valet tickets and gift bags.

Wrapping Up

Mastering venue contracts might not be the most exciting part of event planning, but it’s definitely one of the most important. By keeping these key points in mind and getting your lawyer friend to give things a once-over, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the contract game like a pro. Cheers! 🥂

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