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Understanding Wedding Contracts: The Right of First Refusal

ContagiousPlanning, Wedding Contracts Leave a Comment

Wedding contracts are there for your protection, as well as your vendor’s. There is one fine detail that you must be on the lookout for though: It’s call the right of first refusal. In this blog post, we’ll tell you what the first right of refusal is and how it pertains to wedding planning. Then we’re going to share the downside you’ll want to consider when agreeing to a right of first refusal.

Planning your big day is an exciting and thrilling time. You and your partner are working together to make your dream wedding come true. Every vendor agreement comes with fine print. As tedious as it may feel, it’s so important that you read it fully and understand what it means. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors for clarification, or even edits to an agreement that is hard to understand.

In order to stay on top of wedding planning, you need to be fully aware of all the fine details, especially your contractual agreements. To help, we’ve put together some thoughts on this popular wedding contract clause.

What is the right of first refusal?

Generally speaking, the right of first refusal is a contractual right under which the party providing a service/product gives the buying party the first opportunity to book, should the seller find themselves in a position where another party later expresses interest in their services on the same date/time.

How does this apply to weddings?

Many wedding vendors can only provide their services to one client on any given day – and most couples want to meet with a few vendors in each category before making their decision. For example, if you are in search of the perfect bakery for your cake, you will certainly want to meet the bakers and taste their products. You will be taking part in many consultations, as you will have more than one option. If you become smitten with a certain baker, but still want to talk to one or two other options, you can ask them for the first right of refusal. This allows you to hold that baker’s service for your wedding date, as you meet with other options to ensure that you have found the right one.

Related: 5 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue

When another customer wants to book them for your wedding date, your baker must first call you. They can’t agree to provide services for another customer on your agreed upon timeframe until they first call you. Your wedding date won’t be snatched from beneath you without a phone call. However, here’s the twist, when they call, you must decide in that exact moment whether you will book with them, or move on to another vendor.

This sounds great – what’s the catch to a right of first refusal? 

Well, in theory it is a good opportunity to securely book your wedding vendors while still having the opportunity to do your research and due diligence to make sure you are finding the best vendors for you. On the other hand, there are two pretty big catches to the right of first refusal: It’s entirely based on the honor system, and it can apply more pressure to your wedding planning process.

Vendors are not obligated to furnish any proof that they actually have another inquiry – and there are some vendors out there who may be willing to tell a fib in order to speed the booking process along. And while it can seem appealing to keep a vendor on hold until you decide that there is nothing better available, once you get the call from a vendor about another interested party, you’ll need to make your decision quickly – so in some cases, the right of first refusal doesn’t allow you to finish all your scheduled vendor meetings. In these instances, the right of first refusal adds pressure to an already stressful task.

You should have a right of first refusal policy with your partner. 

This is the second way that the right of first refusal can be used within your wedding planning process. When planning a wedding, either you or your partner may fall into the stereotypical role of being the “yes man or woman,” meaning that you just simply agree with decisions. Remember though, that this is your wedding day too, and you should help make decisions.

Related: What’s your venue style? Find out with our venue quiz!

If you are fearful of upsetting your fiancé(e) with answers that may not be to their liking, you can practice the first right of refusal within your planning process. If your partner suggests an idea that sounds awful, you can refuse it. However, if you do so, you must be ready to explain, in detail, why, as well as provide alternatives. This exercise will help you maintain a meaningful role in the wedding planning, as well as keep the peace with your fiancé(e).

Planning a wedding is no easy feat. When it comes to your contracts or your process, be sure to read the fine print. Is the first right of refusal an ideal that you want to practice with your partner, or place within a contract? It certainly can be a useful tool when used correctly, but it can also add more stress to your plans. If you need help with your wedding planning, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today and let us know how we can help!


Photo Credit: Rocker in Love Wedding Photography

Disclaimer: We’re wedding planners, not attorneys. The insight shared here is solely from a non-legal, wedding planner perspective. This blog does not provide legal advice and should not be used for legal basis. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.


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