The $500 Wedding Fine and the Importance of Reading Your Vendor Contract's Fine Print

Budget, Planning Tips
Pay Attention to Vendor Contract

Photo: Getty Images

"Read the fine print" is advice frequently echoed as signing contracts. The phrase is particularly important when it comes to your upcoming wedding, as you'll be working with a venue, planner, and a whole host of other possible vendors. The fine print has never been more important than it is now, due to venues like The Union Street Guest House which are allegedly enforcing large fines.

The New York Post reported that the hotel in Hudson, New York is dishing out a fine of $500 for every negative Yelp review given to the venue from anyone in a couple's wedding party. The hotel posted the following statement on its website: "Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our Inn, your friends and families may not. This is due to the fact that your guests may not understand what we offer — therefore we expect you to explain that to them. USGH & Hudson are historic. The buildings here are old (but restored). Our bathrooms and kitchens are designed to look old in an artistic 'vintage' way. Our furniture is mostly hip, period furniture that you would see in many design magazines, (although comfortable and functional — obviously all beds are brand new). If your guests are looking for a Marriott-type hotel they may not like it here."

This issue is becoming more and more important as a large number of vendors and wedding professionals are adding clauses to their contracts which forbid couples and their guests from posting negative online reviews. Before you give your feedback, here are three important points to remember.

1. Contact the vendor or wedding professional first before posting any negative feedback.
Feedback is the gift that keeps on giving and those helping to make your special day perfect can only make it so if you give it. Reach out to your venue, planner, and anyone else involved before posting a less than positive review to give them the chance to remedy any misses on their part.

See More: Vendor Etiquette 101: Tipping, Feeding, and Dealing with Difficult Vendors

2. If the contract is giving you doubts, ask to negotiate.
All contracts are negotiable, so have no fear of pushing back if a clause or two make you wince. If there isn't any room to have the needs of both parties met, then you either need to go along with the contract as is, or part ways.

3. Seek to accurately recount your experience and inform other couples, not defame.
In the frustration and boiling emotions of a wedding ceremony or reception gone wrong, it is easy to opt for scathing words and comments. Instead, take a few days to process and move past your feelings and approach your review from a levelheaded space. You will want to retell your experience in the most accurate way possible, seeking to inform couples who will use the vendor in the future while providing the chance for the vendor to correct their wrongdoings with the next wedding party. Though it might feel like justification to dish out a few charged words, you want to make sure you aren't dipping your toe into the defamation pool — that could get you and your spouse into more serious legal territory. Aim for honesty and you'll be good to go.

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