Your Lawyer-Backed Guide to Wedding Planner & Coordinator Contracts

So, you decided to hire a planner (smart choice). Here's exactly what to look for in their contract.
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenn writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in planning advice and travel.
  • Jenn also writes for a myriad of other large-scale publications, including SELF, Women's Health, and more
  • Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Jenn worked as an on-staff editor at, American Baby, Fit Pregnancy and FreshDirect.
Updated Jan 11, 2024

Soon after you become engaged, your mind starts to shift towards planning. One of the very first things people will recommend that you do is hire a wedding planner or wedding coordinator who can get the ball rolling and accompany you throughout the wedding planning process.

When it comes to hiring any vendor, especially someone who is going to be so involved with the planning process, it's vital that you have a contract in place. A wedding planner or coordinator contract is an agreement between the couple and wedding planner that, when written properly, clearly and specifically explains all the expectations and agreements of the happy couple and their planner, explains Colynn O'Brien, an attorney at Iluma Law Firm, PLLC. "This contract usually discusses pricing, what exactly the wedding planner will be doing for the couple, when and how payment needs to be made, whether the contract can be canceled and if so, how it can be canceled, and timelines of everything that needs done before and during the wedding," she says.

No matter the size of your wedding, a wedding planner contract is so important, O'Brien explains. Not only can this type of contract help establish what your wedding planner will do, but it also helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures a happy, healthy and fun wedding day. "Because they specifically detail everything agreed to, they also promote trust between the parties and prevent legal disputes," she adds.

As much as your wedding planning contract offers protection for you, it does the very same for your planner. "A lot of people think that a lengthy contract from a wedding planner indicates some kind of nefarious or shady intent from the planner, but a thorough and well-drafted contract protects both the planner and the client," says Leah Weinberg, attorney, co-founder and partner of Oduberg Law, LLP. "A detailed contract isn't going to leave you guessing—it's going to make it clear what both parties are responsible for and what happens if someone isn't fulfilling those obligations."

Before you sign your wedding planner contract, make sure that the following is included. And if you're still looking for your planner, head to The Knot Vendor Marketplace and start your search.

1. Contact Information

The contact information of all parties involved, including the wedding planner as well as the couple, should be included in the wedding coordinator contract. Not only does this help identify the individuals included in the contract should it need to be used for legal purposes, but it also ensures that both parties have reliable means of communications should they have to address any concerns or make necessary arrangements throughout the planning process.

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2. Event Details

This might sound obvious, but it's very vital that you specify the exact event that this contract pertains to as well as all of the details involved in the event. Be sure to include everything, including the exact date, location and the time of the event(s)—this may include just the wedding or additional events such as an engagement party, a shower and/or a welcome celebration.

3. Scope of Services

Whether you're hiring a full-service or a day-of coordinator, a clear and specific scope of services in your wedding planner agreement will ensure that you understand what they are doing and what they aren't doing, explains Weinberg. "For example, you might assume that your wedding planner will track your RSVPs, assemble and mail out your invitations, or assemble and deliver hotel welcome bags, but a lot of planners either don't offer these services or charge extra for them," she says. "Having a detailed scope of services will make sure that both sides are on the same page as to what is expected of the planner."

4. Payment Terms

Payment is both a basic and a critical piece of the wedding planner contract. "You need to understand how much you're paying your planner and when those payments are due," says Weinberg. "Your planner isn't responsible for invoicing you, so make sure you're tracking those payment due dates separately." If your wedding planner uses a percentage pricing model (instead of a flat fee), Weinberg recommends making sure that you understand exactly how that works and that it's spelled out in your contract as well.

5. Cancellation and Refund Policy

Clear refund and cancellation terms give the parties certainty in knowing if and when refunds or cancellations are allowed, explains O'Brien. In this section, make sure you clearly state the length of time during which a notice is required for a cancellation and specify whether there are different notice periods for partial or full refunds.

6. Limitation of Liability Terms

This section of the wedding coordinator contract carefully defines the extent to which a party can be held financially responsible for certain events or losses. This may include coverage for potential accidents, damages or other unforeseen circumstances, O'Brien explains. These terms establish a cap on the amount of damages that a party is obligated to pay in case of a breach of contract, negligence or other specified circumstances.

7. Force Majeure

This clause has gained an emphasized level of importance in recent years due to the COVID pandemic, as it essentially addresses unforeseen events or circumstances that may prevent the wedding from occurring and/or the planner from fulfilling the contract (e.g., natural disasters, acts of terrorism or other emergencies).

8. Termination or Replacement

It's also vital that your wedding planner contract addresses what happens in the instance that you or your planner choose to terminate or become unavailable for their date. Juls Sharpley, planner and owner of Juls Sharpley Events, recommends that couples consider whether or not they will be offered a replacement and what that circumstance might look like. "If you choose to terminate the contract, what are some reasons you may do so (perhaps you have this outlined somewhere else in a professionalism clause about how you expect to be treated), and if you do choose to terminate, what happens with money paid and money owed?" she asks. "How should they receive notice, and in what timeframe?"

9. Dispute Resolution Terms

Dispute resolution terms give the parties a little more certainty if a dispute happens, explains O'Brien. "For example, the contract can require the parties to try to work any issues out at mediation before bringing a lawsuit," she says. "This allows you to try to resolve issues with the other party before they can file a lawsuit."

10. Signatures

No matter what else is included in your contract, do not sleep on this very important, and often last, section, which includes spaces for signatures and dates from both parties to indicate their understanding and agreement with the terms outlined in the contract. Remember: If a contract is not signed, it's not a legally binding contract!

While it is rare that issues regarding services will come up over the course of your working with your wedding coordinator, it's always better to be safe than sorry. And, in that one-in-a-thousand moment, the contract will be the one thing that protects the planner from being sued, explains Keith Willard, owner of Keith Willard Events. "If it is not in the contract, then there was not an agreement between the two parties about that particular disagreement, and so then it is up to speculation, and, when it becomes speculation, that is when the courts can become involved," he says. "When you have a signed contract, you also have an agreement on both sides about what is and what is not included or expected."

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