Event planning contracts

Use a legal document template to craft an agreement that offers clarity on what's expected from all parties.

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A detailed written agreement is an essential tool if you are running an event planning business. It sets out exactly what services you will provide for an event and gives your clients a clear understanding of what to expect.

Here's how you can find a template online to help you write a legally-binding agreement, and what essential details you should include in yours.

What is an event planning contract?

An event planning contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a business relationship between an event planner and a client. It covers practical aspects of the deal, such as the type of event being planned and the planning services offered, to ensure all parties are clear about their responsibilities. It also covers areas such as payment terms and cancellations.

Where to find event planning contract templates

You can find a customisable Event Planning Contract sample from the following legal services:

  • NetLawman. An online legal service that grants access to hundreds of legal document templates for a fixed fee. NetLawman has a Wedding Planner Contract that can be customised for planning other events. The template costs $39, or you can buy the template and have a lawyer review your completed document for $314.
  • ApproveMe. An online resource for small business owners, ApproveMe provides access to more than 100 contract templates, including an Event Planning Contract, as well as providing tips and advice on writing contracts.
  • DocFormats. DocFormats has a range of free Event Planning Contract templates for different types of events, including weddings, hotel events and private events.
  • Examples.com. A library of document templates for entrepreneurs and students, including several Event Planning Contract samples.
  • Docsketch. Docsketch offers free access to its range of contract templates, including an Event Planning Contract, based on its research of 25,000 sales documents.
  • Etsy. The e-commerce website doesn't just sell handmade items. You can also buy digital downloads, including an eight-piece Event Contract bundle.

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When should I use an event planning agreement?

If you are running an event planning business, you should use a signed written agreement for each client event. This will avoid misunderstandings that could affect the quality of the event and protect the business if there is a legal dispute. Some of the events an agreement would cover include:

  • Wedding. Planning the logistics of the ceremony and the reception, from the flowers to the schedule.
  • Party. Arranging the decor at the venue, organising the catering and entertainment.
  • Concert. Securing the venue, organising ticket sales, coordinating the performers and backstage staff.
  • Art exhibition. Providing services, including finding a venue and marketing the event.
  • Trade fair. Coordinating the program, venue, exhibitors and attendees.
  • Corporate luncheon. Supplying or arranging catering services, organising the agenda.
  • Annual meeting. Managing the schedule, organising audio-visual elements, producing program materials.

These events usually take weeks and even months to plan. You should discuss all the finer details of the planning process with the client and then prepare an Event Planning Agreement to solidify the terms of your engagement.

You may be tempted to rely on an oral agreement, but that is not advisable. Ideas get lost in translation, and misinterpretations or misunderstandings can result in an event not turning out how the client wanted. It is far better to have a written agreement that clarifies the important terms of the business' engagement.

How does an event planning agreement differ from a catering agreement?

An event planning agreement details the planning services the business will provide to the client, covering all aspects of running an event. A catering agreement is more specific, and usually covers off only the food and beverages a catering service will provide to a client for an event. If your event planning business offers catering, you can include the catering agreement within the event planning contract.

How do I write an event planning agreement?

First, meet with your client and find out what type of event they are organising. Next, explain the services you can offer and state your payment terms. Once you have discussed the details of the event and agreed on the terms, put them in writing. It is useful to have a sample Event Planning Contract template that you can customise for your business and then tailor to each client's event, rather than having to write an agreement from scratch each time.

What should an event planning agreement include?

An Event Planning Agreement should contain as much detail as possible about the event and the planning services offered, including the following sections:

  • Parties. List the names, addresses and contacts of the parties involved.
  • Description of the event. Define the type of event, the date and location.
  • Duties of the event planner. List the services the event planner will provide. These may include setting up the venue for the event, printing out invitation cards and procuring floral decorations.
  • Event coordinator. Name who will coordinate the event planning process and communicate with the client.
  • Payment terms. Specify how much the project will cost, when and how payments will be made. State how unforeseen expenses will be tracked and reimbursed.
  • Cancellation. Establish the terms and consequences of cancellation by either party.
  • Termination. Sometimes, events outside the control of either party can make carrying out an event impossible – for example, a government shutdown. Have a defined procedure for terminating the agreement and facilitating refunds, if any.
  • Photo release clauses. If you may want to use photos or videos from the event for marketing or promotional purposes, including a release clause stating that the client agrees to the use of their image.
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms. State how disputes will be resolved. You can choose out-of-court legal processes like arbitration or mediation.
  • Event insurance. Detail what insurance coverage the event will have.

What does an event planning agreement not include?

An event planning agreement should avoid ambiguous terms and unnecessary legal jargon, as these can cause confusion and lead to avoidable disputes.

How effective is an event planning agreement?

An event planning agreement is a legal document that binds the event planner and the client to the agreed terms, protecting the interests of both parties. The event planner commits to providing specific services in exchange for compensation and the client has a successful event. In case either party fails to meet his or her obligations, they will be in breach of the contract and the innocent party can seek indemnification for losses suffered.

The agreement provides extensive protections to both parties. For example, provisions relating to cancellation set out the consequences for cancelling the event planning project midway through, while terms relating to indemnification establish who will be liable for injuries or losses that occur to third parties.

Engaging the help of a lawyer

You don't strictly need a lawyer to write an event planning agreement, but you may benefit from legal counsel while preparing or reviewing the document. A lawyer will advise you on how to limit your liability for injuries or losses in the event planning process, establish indemnification procedures and safeguard intellectual property.

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