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Event Planner Contract

A professional promise in the form of an enforceable contract with your client is important for any freelancer. However, when it comes to an event planner contract, this step is essential.

As an event planner, it’s your job to ensure event success through your services, creativity, organization, and guidance. Before you jump right in, however, the expectations of you and your client must be clearly defined. This not only strengthens your professional relationship, but it also protects you from any unforeseen issues. 

No matter what event planning project you take on, a verbal agreement doesn’t cut it. A written event contract outlining the terms and conditions of your services is a must for each project. This contract will then become your go-to if any unfortunate situations may arise, creating a smooth, hassle-free project from beginning to end. 

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Here are eight must-have clauses for your event planner contract. 

1. Event date and description

Let’s start with the basics. Make sure your contract clearly outlines the event date and an agreed description of the event. This information can then be referred to throughout your contract. Make sure the description is as detailed as possible to ensure both parties are clear on what the event will entail. 

2. Scope of services

Any agreement that outlines a set of services must come with clear expectations around what those services exactly are. 

If the services are described in general terms without specific definitions, you create the risk of running into arguments – or even lawsuits – based on unmet expectations. 

So, when creating your scope of services, ask yourself a series of questions to jumpstart your detailed description. 

Through your services, do you:

  • Provide catering?
  • Research and book the event’s venue?
  • Provide the venue yourself?
  • Run your clients’ marketing channels?
  • Provide visual or audio equipment?
  • Offer on-site events for staff?

If your event planning client chooses to work with outside vendors for these services, the contract must clearly explain who the vendors are and what they’re responsible for. 

3. Payment schedule

This is an important clause for a lot of freelancers. First, decide when you prefer to get paid. Typically, event planners will be paid an upfront deposit and receive the rest of the payment upon event completion. 

If you decide on this payment plan, make sure your event planner contract and timeline provides a due date for the first deposit. Include in writing that you’ll only begin working once the amount has been paid. 

Clients can also pay in smaller increments for certain milestones you outline. If you choose this payment plan, make sure you break down the milestones and any line items they may include (equipment, venue rental, etc.) including fees and taxes. 

4. Terms for event cancellation

What happens if the event is canceled after you’ve already planned part of the event? If your client pulls out halfway through, your contract can protect you. 

This is where milestone payments come in handy. Make sure your contract clearly outlines that all upfront payments received are non-refundable and that clients are 100% responsible for any event costs made since the last payment. This ensures compensation for the work you’ve completed since the initial deposit. 

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5. Termination clause

This clause is for any cancellation that may occur due to unforeseeable events.

These events are out of both party’s hands, and may include:

  • Weather incidents
  • Personal disaster
  • Government shutdown
  • Serious outside disturbances (rallies)

This clause outlines all situations that could happen where neither party will be held liable. Clearly, the chances of these scenarios actually happening are fairly slim, however, contracts are all about protecting yourself in any case. 

Make sure to cover these points in the termination clause:

  • Which party member holds the authority to cancel certain services.
  • Detailed description of covered scenarios/cirumstances. 
  • What happens if certain events occur (payments, rescheduling, etc.)

6. Indemnification clause

This clause protects you from any legal action caused by client negligence. Including this clause in your event planner contract makes it so that your client can’t hold you legally responsible for any damages, injuries or losses that happen based on actions they commit. 

As Forbes explains, “Often overlooked, indemnification creates important, business-ending responsibilities that only become clear once it’s too late.” and refers to compensating for any loss, liability or damage incurred by another. 

7. Photo release clause

This clause is more helpful than essential – especially for event planners looking to enhance their portfolio website. 

 If you would like to use event photos to promote your online business, you should consider adding a photo release clause as a professional and safe way of receiving permission to edit and use event photos. 

You’ll find this clause more often in photography and wedding planning contracts. Many clients shouldn’t have a problem with this as it creates free exposure for them as well. However, just in case, you should include it in your contract.

8. Client notes

This is another “helpful yet not necessary” clause in your event planner contract. While contracts are usually paired with verbal conversations about what’s required and desired during event planning, it’s always helpful to include a “comments” section in your contract in case your client wants to remind you of details or requests.

This will not only help your client feel more confident moving forward with the project but will also save yourself time from any last-minute client phone calls, reminding you of concerns of needs. 

Your event planner contract takeaway

When properly drafted, contracts solve problems and create freelance confidence. While many freelancers think clients may negatively react to receiving a contract, they’re more commonly used than you think. 

A proper event planner contract is the cornerstone for a healthy working relationship with clients, customers, partners, vendors or providers. As a budding or experienced event planner, adding to your professionalism and freelance protection is always a key way forward. 

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