Vendor relationships are a lot like your personal one: You met, you fell in love, and now it's time to take things to the next level. With a vendor, that often means signing a contract and putting down a deposit. This is typically the first big wedding planning step a couple will take, so it can be overwhelming. To help ease the pain of forking over quite a bit of change (and so that you understand why it's so important!), we asked planner Christiane Lehman of Truly You Events to help explain the deposit process before you're in the thick of it.
A deposit is rarely refundable.
Before any money exchanges hands, make sure you're sure. "If a client simply changes his or her mind, an initial deposit is typically not refunded," explains Lehman. "Once a vendor books a wedding date, the likelihood that they'll be able to rebook that date if their client were to cancel is greatly diminished." If there's even a one percent chance you'd like someone else better, exhaust your options so you can feel good about making this decision.
Your deposit will inform other payments.
The amount you will need to put down a as deposit varies from vendor to vendor, but what you do pay now will affect how much and how often you need to pay later. That's why it's so important to read over the contract before signing. "Always check your contracts to be sure that there is a clearly-defined payment schedule listed so that you're informed and comfortable with the plan upon signing," says Lehman. This will also help to create a realistic budget and will keep you on track so that you make payments on time.
You're responsible for keeping track of each payment.
Whether it's your deposit or your final payment, it's up to you to maintain a record of exactly how much you've paid. Make copies of checks, create a binder, and save everything. If someone doesn't offer a receipt, ask for one. If they don't have a receipt, write one on the back of some scrap paper that both parties sign. Anything on paper will go a long way in ensuring there are no mix-ups or overpayments as the big day approaches.
Final payments are probably due early.
"Most, if not all, of your wedding vendors are likely to require payment in full ahead of the wedding," says Lehman. But even if they aren't, she suggests getting it all done ahead of time anyway. "No one wants to be fumbling with a check book on a wedding day when they could be sipping Champagne and celebrating love!"