Straight Talk On Weddings And The Law

June 26, 2014

By Fhara Pottinger

If only it were simply about getting to the Church on time! However, the lead up to a wedding can be mass of coordination and effort with many moving parts as you try to plan that special day just as you always dreamed.

As with most things in life, weddings involve contract law, although it is not something you likely think about. Unless things go wrong.

Unfortunately, many weddings are ruined because someone fails to live up to their agreement – the venue is a disaster, the caterer takes off, or the dress comes in two sizes too small. What can you do?

Here are a few tips for making sure your rights are protected in the event of a wedding disaster:

  1. Put it in writing! As they say, an oral agreement is worth the paper it is written on. The real issue is that it is difficult to prove to the satisfaction of a judge the exact terms of your agreement with the wedding vendor. This is particularly important if you are asking for something even slightly unusual. If you want it to happen, put it on paper.
  2. Be specific! If you want something in particular as part of your wedding- a certain song; a certain type of cake- then put it in the agreement. Even if it is something you don’t want to happen (like addressing food allergy issues), be detailed and precise. Otherwise, a court may determine it was not in fact, part of the agreement with the vendor and you are out of luck.
  3. Use your name! Even if your parents or someone else is financially backing the wedding, make sure the agreement is between you and the wedding vendor. Otherwise, your parents will have to sue the vendor and their damages may be significantly less since they were not the couple at the centre of the wedding. If it is your wedding, put all agreements in your name. This also ensures that you have the final say (and not your mother-in-law to be- although if she refuses to pay, that becomes a whole other issue).
  4. Paying a deposit! Look at the terms of any agreement carefully when it comes to deposits. Sometimes you get them back, sometimes there are deductions and sometimes the wedding vendor gets to keep all of the deposit, regardless of which party cancelled. Make sure you know which is which and if you are prepared to accept that term in the agreement. Sometimes these terms are negotiable so negotiate! This is your day.
  5. After the wedding! Take the time to look at your legal situation. A marriage voids a will for example. You may wish to make changes to the way title is held with respect to your house for estate planning purposes. Set aside a little of that wedding cash to make sure you two put yourself in the best possible situation as you commence your lives together.

Weilers wishes everyone a joyful wedding season. We have spent over 65 years helping couples plan their futures.