Wedding Tips From a LawyerWords by Karina Saranovic
Photos courtesy of Anne Molnar Photography
The Do’s & Don’ts of Wedding PlanningKarina Saranovic, an attorney with Delman Vukmanovic LLP based in Los Angeles, recently got married. And, if you’re already entrenched in the planning, she has some do’s and don’ts to hopefully keep the law on your side during the process.
Do: research the venue and read prior reviews. If there are any red flags, unhappy brides are bound to voice their concerns online. Also, look into liability insurance for your event including inquiring if your venue and selected vendors carry liability insurance in case of an accident. Wires can dangle and chair legs loosen so scope out the layers of coverage to insulate all parties from unexpected liability.
Don’t: assume that common terms are interpreted as broadly in the “wedding world.” Although you typically connote words like “open bar” with unlimited beverages and glassware, you should always check for asterisks when adding features to avoid any misunderstandings or extra charges along the way.
Do: request everything in writing after negotiating points that deviate from the language in a contract. Despite vendors’ oral promises over the phone or in person, it’s always a good idea to memorialize discussed changes on paper or even in a succinct email.
Do: pay for a copy of your marriage certificate because you’ll need the documentation should you decide to change your legal surname. Expect the name change process to run you through a few hoops but due to uttered woes of brides past, startups have already flown to the rescue to streamline the process.
Don’t: forget to obtain your marriage license before your ceremony. You may be able to fill out the primary paperwork online but the couple must pay a visit to the county of registrar-recorder to pick it up. Office locations offering marriage licenses are not open every day so don’t wait until the last minute either. Also, remember to mail in the fully executed marriage license to the county clerk for official recording post-ceremony.
Don’t: forget to research the requirements for officiants if you ask a close friend or family member to take the reins as the initial master of ceremonies. Officiant requirements can vary by county and state so check into the regulations specific to your ceremony location.
Do: pay attention to contract provisions labeled “marketing rights” (or something along those lines) if you’d like to win back an ounce of privacy on your big day. A surprising amount of non-photographer vendors incorporate language obtaining permission to photograph your event for their own use. Guests will already Instagram you enough so you don’t need others snapping shots and borrowing your image or likeness for their own commercial or advertising purposes.
Don’t: assume your equipment rental company will always supply products as described. Although it’s unrealistic to see all rentals beforehand, attempt to see as many as you can in person. Also, don’t think vendors will let it slide if a few things go missing or get damaged. It’s not a bad idea to request replacement costs for more expensive items to avoid getting slapped with an unpleasant tab.
Do: think about the weather. Although you hope for the bluest of skies and the starriest of nights, unexpected storms might put a damper on your event (although it’s good luck in some cultures). Even when the chances of rain are slim to none, look for the provision in contracts outlining your recourse in the event nature misbehaves (i.e., a provision where a vendor has the right to cancel their services without furnishing a refund or offering a rescheduling option in the event of rain should likely be redrafted). The same applies to reservations booked for excursions on your honeymoon.
Overarching I Do’s
Overall, remember you have the power to modify your vendor contracts so don’t be shy to add terms, strike them or request transparency on ambiguous items. Also, try to check items off your list one step at a time so as to not stumble into that overwhelming “bridezilla” trap.
Most of all, remember everyone in attendance is there for you, loves you and wants to rejoice in an enchanting evening commemorating a couple’s love. Hopefully, these pointers help you hone in on this element of the occasion. Congratulations all brides and grooms.
Article for Informational Purposes Only; Does Not Constitute Legal Advice: All materials in this article have been prepared for general and informational purposes only. The content does not constitute legal advice and is not to be relied on or acted upon as such. The content may also not represent the most current legal developments and updates and is subject to change without notice. The contributor is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the information provided or for any damages arising from the use or reliance of the posted information or for any actions taken as a result of this information. No Creation of Attorney-Client Relationship: Reading or receiving information through this article, website or any related source is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship. The article and all related materials should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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