If you are planning your wedding yourself, it’s crucial that you know a few very important things when it comes to your budget and how it will be broken down. This information isn’t common knowledge so if you find yourself struggling or are weary of making a mistake, hire a planner! Deposits and final payments for your vendors are very important and the key to ensuring how much is for what and when is to read the post I wrote last week about reading your vendor contract!
Deposits are what you and your partner put down to essentially “reserve” the vendor, all of your vendors will require a deposit. (Side note: Some planners require a retainer; it’s a fancier word for an advance.) It will be written in the contract exactly how much of a deposit is required to secure their services for your wedding. Most wedding bands require up to 20%, some photographers require half up front, it really depends so again to reiterate, read your contract!
If you don’t quite understand the contract, set up a meeting with them and have them thoroughly explain so there are absolutely no miscommunications. Once you sign that contract, you agree to everything in it whether you read it or not! In most cases, deposits and retainers are non-refundable. Once you put down your deposit, your vendor has then reserved their services for your wedding date.
One other important thing to keep in mind is when you are meeting your vendors to discuss their services and whether or not you will hire them, be in a position to put down a deposit at the meeting. You have no idea what their booking schedule is like and if they are photographer, some are booked up to a year and a half in advance!
Similarly, the contract should stipulate when your vendor expects their final payment. The amounts will vary and the due dates can be anywhere from two weeks before the wedding day up to the day of the wedding. Discussing this and making changes before you sign the contract is essential. Most vendors can be flexible; others not as much so it’s important that you keep track on a calendar the date final payments are due. For example, most venues will request a deposit up to 20% and then final payment will be the entire lump sum of what is left over due roughly a week before the wedding. You can arrange to make payments so it’s not one large chunk gone at once so be sure to inquire about that.
If any payments are due on the day of the wedding, have someone like a planner, parent or another relative who will ensure the payments are to given to the vendors. You will be busy getting married and celebrating and it’s easy to become distracted since it’s your big day.
In both cases whether it’s a deposit or a final payment, request an invoice or a receipt that stipulates the date you paid and the amount. It’s good to keep a record of these payments for your own security.