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Because catering a wedding takes so much coordination, you may see a contract clause enforcing the "one week" rule, meaning you must finalize all details seven days prior to the event or incur extra fees. While most midsize to large companies carry their own insurance, small vendors may not -- in which case you may want to add a rider to your existing homeowners or renter's policy.A contract with the florist should spell out the number of bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and corsages on order, as well as any decoration for the ceremony and reception locations.Although weddings are dreamy affairs, their preparation involves plenty of down-to-earth paperwork -- namely, the contracts with the vendors you'll hire to carry out your vision.

Once you have agreed on a contract, both you and the vendor need to sign it.

You'll want a copy for your files with both signatures, too, because otherwise the document can be challenged should there be a disagreement later.

Many wedding services supply formal contracts that have been drawn up by their lawyers.

Don't be put off by the obscure language; although you can always pay to have your own lawyer look over a contract, if you take the time to read it carefully, you should be able to decode the legalese yourself.

Don't hesitate to make changes -- the vendors want to do business with you, so they'll probably be as accommodating as possible -- but if you agree on changes midway though the planning, follow up with a letter signed by both parties, and keep a copy of the letter with the original contract.

A contract should detail the refund policy if the company doesn't fulfill its end of the bargain.

Every contract should cover basic points, including the most obvious: the date and time of the wedding.

In fact, you'll probably see the phrase "time is of the essence," signifying that the date of the contracted service is an essential part of the agreement.

If you can't get the clause deleted, insert a ceiling on the total costs; no more than 15 percent over the base price is fair.

The contract should also record the terms of payment; typically, vendors ask for a 50 percent deposit upon signing, with the balance due shortly before or on the day of the wedding.

Discuss charges for accessories, such as an aisle runner, ribbons, and vases.

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