Updated November 6, 2020:

Event planning contracts protect both parties involved in a number of ways. Having a legal contract in place forces those involved to agree in writing on a set of terms and conditions. Most event planning professionals, including party planners, wedding planners, and corporate event specialists, understand the importance of event planning contracts.

What to Include in an Event Planning Contract

How many times have you had a conversation with someone and walked away thinking you both understood each other, but you later learned there was miscommunication? Having a contract in place when planning an event ensures all parties have a clear understanding of the work being completed as well as additional aspects of the event planning business.

When drafting your event planning contract, be sure to include:

  • A list of services being provided
    • The agreement should contain clear expectations as to what services are provided and what those services are
    • Services not specifically defined might be misunderstood, leading to unmet expectations
    • Provided services might include catering, on-site event staff, marketing, and audio/visual equipment, but it's important to also specify which services are not included
    • List these tasks clearly in the contract so the client fully understands which services you will and will not perform
    • Use broad language in the contract to protect yourself against performing a service outside your comfort zone
    • Detail which vendors you are working with and the services they provide
  • Payment schedule
    • Specify all payment details in the event planner contract
    • Outline an estimated budget for the event to give the client a general idea of what to expect
    • Don't worry about getting too detailed with estimates because you can always renegotiate the budget later
    • State the initial deposit due date in the contract and note that no work will begin until the deposit is received
    • Indicate the date upon which the final payment must be received to deliver services
    • Your payment schedule should best suit your business and cash flow needs, including any added fees and taxes
  • Cancellation terms
    • Including a cancellation clause in your contract ensures you get paid if the event host must cancel their plans or backs out
    • Cancellation clauses should state that any fees or deposits paid up until the cancellation are nonrefundable
    • These terms protect your income and decrease the likelihood a client will cancel, especially when someone has a lot of money to lose
    • These clauses should state what constitutes a valid event cancellation and how long the client has to cancel before being charged the full amount
  • Termination clause
    • Also known as a force majeure clause, a termination clause provides a planner with legal protections if the services are canceled for reasons beyond their control
    • Circumstances beyond one's control include hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods
    • This clause gives the planner the power to cancel all obligations and services under certain extreme conditions
    • The clause must define which circumstances are covered, who has the authority to cancel services, and what happens if those services are canceled
  • Indemnification clause
    • This clause protects the event planner from legal action due to client negligence
    • With this clause, a client cannot hold you or your planning firm responsible for damages, injuries, or losses that occur due to their actions
  • Cancelation-by-you clause
    • In some cases, the event planner might want to back out midway through the contract
    • This clause should specify scenarios in which you can opt to back out, including unreasonable last-minute requests or lacking staff members
    • State provisions for the client if you back out, such as finding a third-party planner or refunding deposits

Wedding Planner Contract Guide

Until you have a signed contract in hand, avoid working for any client. Compare sample contracts to get a better idea of how to draft your own. Once a client decides to hire you as their wedding planner, send the contract to them within 24 to 48 hours.

Keep a standard copy of your contract on file in a Microsoft Word format. This allows you to fill in blank spaces with details for each new client. Before emailing the contract, convert it to a PDF format so you don't have to worry about the client changing the wording before signing. If mailing the contract, include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

If you need additional help with your event planning contracts, post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.