The Future Of Wedding Suppliers’ Contracts – Checking The Small Print

What can we expect from the next few months as couples start to get back into planning their dream day…will things be different? I’ve been pondering the future of wedding suppliers’ contracts, and have some thoughts to share!

Wedding Suppliers’ Contracts Will Be Under More Scrutiny Than Ever – Are You Ready?

It’s great to see new couples venturing back into the world of wedding fairs, open days, and enquiries as planning ‘post-Covid’ gets going again. I think it’s fair to assume there will be far more scrutiny of your Terms and Conditions – your client contracts – than ever before. I think it will be commonplace for customers to challenge your terms and seek clarification and guidance about what they say and why some provisions are in there.  Are you prepared for that sort of challenge and explanation?

Do you understand your own contract?

Firstly, before you give your terms to a customer – do you understand them? Do you know how they work and why the particular clauses are in there? You might not explain it to them as a lawyer would, but at the basic level, do you know why they are in your contract and what issues they are there to deal with? If not – why not? In my opinion, you have no business sending something for someone to agree that you don’t understand yourself.

Secondly, how do you handle questions? The future of wedding suppliers’ contracts may mean you have to respond to requests for amendments. I would advise not amending your standard terms unless you absolutely have to – you will quickly lose track of what you have changed and when, and that’s always dangerous. Standard terms are exactly that – standard! If you went onto a website to buy tickets from a venue for a musical performance for example, and they were sold subject to their standard T and C’s,  you wouldn’t dream of calling the seller and renegotiating the terms. In essence, you may need to think about your contracts in a similar way.

The Future Of Wedding Suppliers Contracts – Your Liability Is Not Negotiable!

Negotiations about price and what is included in the services are to be expected but negotiations about the limits of your liability, for example, are in my view not to be entertained. You may have to say no to some business as a result if you believe your terms are robust and fair.

Clarity On Another ‘Covid’ Situation

The ‘biggie’ will be folk seeking clarity on another Covid situation arising and what you will do in that instance. Your terms should not need specific Covid referenced clauses (I actively avoid them) but should have clear terms about postponements and cancellation. You can see this handy blog for some of the issues to consider here.

They should also have a force majeure clause of some sort that deals with weddings that cannot progress because of some sort of third party intervention that was out of the parties control, but again rarely will you need to have a clause that is specific to Covid (or even any other pandemic) and my advice at the moment is to keep such clauses general. 

We all await a court case, or a further missive from the CMA to clarify…

Editor’s Note: Look out for our free download coming soon in the next month or so to help you with your FM clauses revamp, which will be available to all, whether you have previously purchased a contract or template from us or not.


Wedding Postponements- do I need a new contract?

I’ve been getting lots of questions about wedding postponements, so let’s try and be clear on this piece of advice:

If you wish agree a wedding postponement with your couple INSTEAD of a cancellation, you do not need (nor should you issue) a new contract.

  • The terms of the original agreement remain in place and the only term that is changed is the date of the delivery, and any other terms you may agree with your couples in that negotiation.
  • You MAY additionally agree to change payment terms.

If these were connected to your delivery date – ie Payment is due 1 month before the wedding or similar, then when you change the date of delivery the payment terms are automatically deferred, unless you agree separately to change them too.

If your payment terms were on specific dates – ie 30 April 2020 for an instalment payment – they remain as is, unless you agree something else with your couple.

  • In all other respects, the T and C’s of your original agreement are still in place and valid. If you didn’t have any – or they had mahoosive holes in them – wedding postponement is not an excuse to try to sure them up.
  • Wedding postponements are not necessarily the same as cancellations – in most cases you are transferring the sums paid to deliver the goods or services on another date, not starting again with another full payment for the services or goods.
  • You should confirm any changes to your couple in writing – email is fine – and add the words.

…in all other respects, your contract terms remain unchanged.

  • I remind you that if you seek to agree a wedding postponement, please advise your couple to tell any EXISTING wedding insurer about the changes as they may need to pay a fee and will not necessarily be covered by their EXISTING policy if you change the date, with or without notification. Couples need to CHECK the terms of the specific policy, with their broker or insurer.

A Stanford Gould, we have a range of contract templates available, and also offer a review of your current terms.

Wedding Suppliers and Styled Shoots – the legal issues? PART THREE: Safety and Risk

In part three of our series about wedding suppliers and styled shoots, we are taking Safety and Risk. EXACTLY what you lovely wedding creatives want to chat about in a styled shoot collaboration…… NOT.

Let’s just quickly recap what we have learned so far- the first blog dealt with clarifying who is doing what and how the collaboration is going to work, assigning roles and reminding of responsibilities and the aims of the shoot. The second blog talked you through the delights of intellectual property and social media tagging.

This third part leads us to the one topic that wedding suppliers, and indeed most small businesses, groan inwardly most loudly when mentioned…. Safety and Risk – or put another way, insurance and health and safety. They are so important and usually the very last thing that small businesses think about (until it’s too late? …. editor) when getting all excited about the gorgeousness of a styled shoot.

Risk and Insurance is relatively straight forward but none the less essential to make sure you have ticked it off the styled shoot preparations list. At least, you should have public liability cover for your business (if not, see these blogs…) That cover will be based on the activities you undertake as part of your business, usually with prospective couples paying for your services. Check with your broker or your insurer that the activities of a styled shoot are covered by your current insurance policies. Making a flower arch to be displayed at a reception isn’t a million miles away from making a flower arch for a styled shoot, but its for a different reason and in a different context. Make sure you are insured yourself for the work you do in any styled shoot project.

Secondly, make sure the others in the project are insured – if you trip over someone else’s camera bag and break your leg – does the photographer have cover for your injuries? And thirdly – does the location that you are using for the styled shoot have or need insurance cover for its users and or occupiers  – if you fall down some tricky steps or off a ladder whilst assembling the shoot at a venue– are they insured for any losses you may incur?

Finally, on the topic of falling off ladders – I really recommend a simple Risk Assessment of the shoot. For example:

  • Are you going to be working at height? Or need to install anything at height?
  • Are you lugging very heavy items from your car to the shoot site?
  • Are you going to be using vehicles? Are you on a highway?
  • Are you going to need lighting and other electrical stuff and is it PAT tested?
  • Using candles or naked flames? What are your fire risks?

It does NOT need to be ‘war and peace’. A simple proforma of the likely hazards and risks will do and there are plenty of proformas on line to use…I personally recommend a chat with Harrier UK who are very wedding and events savvy, and the sort of H and S experts that talk plain English and aren’t ‘jobsworth’ about this very important stuff – they are user friendly and really good: so well worth a view….

BUT, I hear you cry, Legal Fairy Godmother – where do I start with this stuff??

A solution beckons. We at SGOL have created a template for styled shoots. It’s not a contract. It’s not even Heads of Terms – it’s a ‘Rules of the Game’ template to use as an aid memoire to guide you through the questions you need to ask and the agreements you need to come to prior to a styled shoot to help reduce the risk for everyone involved..

For the rest of February this is available as an exclusive offer to YLFG Facebook group members at (50% off ) a discounted price of £24.99 by emailing us at heather@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk and requesting your copy of the template.  It can be used multiple times by the same buyer but is subject to its own T and Cs which are sent on request.

If that sounds like something you could use – get in touch.

Intellectual Property- Wedding Suppliers & Styled Shoots – the legal issues? PART TWO.

So last week we looked at some of the issues around styled shoots and setting the rules out when collaborating with other suppliers. This week we are concentrating on one of the most contentious areas of styled shoots – and one of the most complex – intellectual property rights.

So I could give you a really complex precis of the law on intellectual property rights but I’m not sure how helpful that would be, but I suggest if you want to know more , this is a good basic guide: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview

In practical terms here are the key issues to think about in a styled shoot context:

The photographer will own the images that are taken at the shoot. He or she will need to give each other supplier involved a license to use the images – and this license may be conditional. Typical conditions would be:

  • Non-exclusive – so others could also use the images as well under similar license arrangements
  • Non-transferable or non-sub-contractable– so you cannot grant a license  to someone else to use them without the photographer’s consent.
  • Within a territory – so this may be England and Wales, UK wide, EU wide _ be careful here with Brexit changes afoot… or world wide .

Photographers providing services to wedding couples often grant licenses to use their photographs to their  clients which are NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE – but clearly in a styled shoot arrangement, this IS PURELY for commercial use so make sure the license terms are clear about what that may – or perhaps may, not entail. For example: the license may give you broad rights to  use on your social media feeds but you may have to get different permissions from the intellectual property owner if you want to submit the photos to Hello magazine.

What other conditions might there be? It’s a good idea to agree the way to tag or acknowledge the photographer when publishing  by agreeing the wording and the hashtag or the account to be tagged – this sounds obvious,  but there are instances of the wrong account being credited which is never good.

So what about the content of those photos? Obviously the issue of tagging the correct supplier account and the hashtags they use should also be agreed.

This shouldn’t require pages and pages of legal speak and notes – a simple bullet pointed list of likely situations or scenarios should be drawn up and then agree what can or cannot happen. Set the expectation again with something in writing. You can NEVER hope to cover off every possible things that might go wrong, but deal with the obvious risks.

And for help on this sticky problem, read on below……..

The question that often next arises is ‘Can you protect the designs the photographs show, the original and unique goods you want to sell, the creative and artistic products that you hope a styled shoot will show off so well, from copying or passing off as another’s work?’

A creator of goods will own the original design, they may also have copyright, and if copies were made of an original idea – in principal the owner of the original idea may have a claim for damages against the creator of the fake. However you might need some substantially deep pockets for this type of ligation (it ain’t cheap) and evidence of your original creation ( which means drawings, prototypes, evidence of design, the evolution of the products and the original creative inspiration)  if you want to pursue someone for copying ( breaching your intellectual property rights) or passing off. Take advice from an IP expert on these points if you think you have a potential claim.

A cease and desist letter (what’s one of those?editorhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cease_and_desist) may be a good starting point. There are lots of google results for templates if you search these terms but take care it is one for a UK based claim (not a US one – the law is different) and it’s not a panacea of all ills, and needs to be used sparingly.

BUT, I hear you cry, “Legal Fairy Godmother – where do I start with this stuff??”

A solution beckons. SGOL have created a template for styled shoots. Its not a contract. Its not even Heads of Terms – it’s designed to be written Rules of the Game – a simple template to use as an aid memoir to guide you through the questions you need to ask and the agreements you need to come to prior to a styled shoot to help reduce the risk for everyone involved..

For the rest of February 2020 this is available as an exclusive offer to YLFG Facebook group members at a discounted price of £24.99 by emailing us at heather@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk QUOTING ref YLFG and requesting your copy of the template. Non members can also get a copy, priced at £49.99. Email us for details.

It can be used multiple times by the same buyer but is subject to its own T and C’s which are sent on request.

If that sounds like something you could use – get in touch.

Legal Advice for Wedding Suppliers: Thinking of putting up your prices in the New Year?

A new decade requires a new slogan. We’ve had the Nineties, the Noughties, the Twenty Tens …

What are we to call this decade? The Twenty Twenties (worse slogan ever: editor) the Roaring Twenties? (I think that may have been done already: editor) Boring Twenties? (Let’s hope not: editor) Soaring Twenties – (that’s more like it…..! )

So, to soar, you need to create more business, and more profits, so you need some strategy and some planning. A review. It’s not going to just happen without some graft, is it? Do you expect a slow start to the new decade or will the phone ring off the hook? I sincerely hope it’s closer to the latter than the former, but either way this is the time to get your administrative and operational ‘ducks in a row’ for this season : and there’s no shortage of blogs and articles and podcasts telling you why this is important. Here’s one of my favs at the min.

One strategic option: putting up your prices is a common thought for businesses at this time of year – especially out of season and before the flurry of activity that this post-Christmas engagement season brings. You need to put up your prices BEFORE that flood of enquiries (and conversions hopefully) really starts. Once you have quoted and hooked the client in on a price – there’s little room for manoeuvre.

You can only put up your prices for existing clients if your current T and C’s allow for it – or the customer agrees (you really want to ask that question?)

New clients need your revised T and C’s with your new price structure NOW – and you must include it in their proposal for your services. Here’s a handy video from me on the timing of using your client contract and when you need to provide it.

You don’t have any???

Get yourself over here for the options for template T and Cs we have… and for bespoke solutions you can check us out here.

If your T and Cs need a general spruce up or a proper legal look over to ensure that you are good to go for the new decade we have a fixed fee service to help you and lots of tricks and tips for legal questions and conundrums on our FB page Your Legal Fairy Godmother – free membership at the moment, but the doors are closing before the wedding season kicks in proper, so join now to access great advice and our usual display of selfies and pics for our events, products and general travels through the wedding suppliers world.

Bring it on 2020.

My Blog’s mic drop 2019

I’ve spent my afternoon planning next year.

Looking at who is important, what is important and where we are going in the next 12 months.

Its been exciting to see the progress of the last year – SGOL’s new and improved template offer is, in no short measure, responsible for some of that! And the fabulous Chrissie of Black Hare Marketing – without whom, none of this is possible.

THANK YOU X

Its also exciting to see what’s already in the pipeline for next year…

We have training lined up with wedding suppliers, commercial network groups, GCSE students and creatives in Nottingham – it’s a diverse bunch! And there’s new products and collaborations coming soon too, to help with your risk management, a review of GDPR and a membership offer I think will be too good to miss.

If, like me , you are yearning for Friday 20th December (What? part timer…….editor) and the rest and recuperation that Christmas brings – gird your loins and lets do this for another working week, people. If you need some inspiration…..click here.

Then let’s rest and add ‘the undone’ to the ‘to do’ pile and raise a glass to the next 12 months.

Thank you for joining us on the SGOL blog, and a very Merry Christmas to you all

With love

Heather xx

…OUT

The Business Proposal Podcast – Bring out the dancing lobsters: as sponsored by Heather Stanford Gould

The Business Proposal Podcast – Bring out the dancing lobsters: as sponsored by me.

Looking to fill your ears with helpful brilliance as a wedding creative?

Want to hear how wedding creatives can support and help your business?

Get your lug ‘oles round The Business Proposal Podcast: New Season by Ellie Kime and Rachel Waring

Here’s their brand new episode –

Why it feels like your marketing efforts are failing….Join us as we toboggan down the slope of self awareness together, and discuss why your marketing efforts might be failing (despite you working really hard on them). It sounds like the most depressing episode ever, but actually we think it’s rather uplifting, and we hope you do too. Special guest stars include Adele, Cecilia the cat, and Ellie’s allergies.

And once you have absorbed and LOVED this, there’s so much fantastic material from seasons one and two as well – covering everything from Building Hype around your Brand, How to Set Up your Workspace, and Diversity and Inclusion in the wedding sector. So, there’s absolutely something for everyone.

Check Ellie and Rachel out at https://www.thebusinessproposalpodcast.com/

And you can find all the past episodes of this podcast  here.

Ellie says “The Business Proposal Podcast is a podcast for wedding creatives, by wedding creatives. We’re demystifying the wedding industry one episode at a time, providing support and advice for the industry as it’s a very unique one with its own set of challenges. This season we’re covering everything from trends to wedding fairs to marketing failures to the importance of community, and so much more. All with a giggle and a cuppa…hopefully!

Subscribe today to have something actually worth listening to on your daily commute or over a Sunday morning cuppa?

I am absolutely delighted to be partnering with this brilliant programme and hope you enjoy the content.

Contract Advice For Wedding Suppliers – With A Contract Template Thrown In…

Welcome to Stanford Gould Online! We’re offering contract advice for wedding suppliers that need legal advice on their terms and conditions.

Get in touch if you are a wedding supplier and need legal advice about your contract and a template sorting – in under an hour you will receive training and get a contract template completed and be good to go.

Planners, photographers, stylists and hirers, florists, cake bakers and makers, stationers, and designers click here.

Alternatively, email us heather@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk

Advice on partnerships : avoiding the pitfalls

In our last blog we talked about the difference between a limited company and a sole trader – and that provoked quite a response! If you missed it – catch it here. Today we look at problematic advice on partnerships and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Partnerships are a very old concept and defined very loosely as ‘persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit’ and only excludes those in an incorporated body (a limited company set up) or a group created by statute or Royal Charter (no, not you guys!) so covers everyone who is working jointly with someone else – and this is important – even if they didn’t intend to actually create a partnership.

So, you can create a partnership by accident (how weird is that…) without intention and indeed even if you have tried to avoid such a thing, and once created, partnerships can only be regulated in one of two ways:

  • By a contract in writing – you have a Partnership Agreement that sets out how the partnership works and such matters as termination, dissolution, adding new partners, how you run the accounting processes etc. It can include restrictions on what partners can do as part of or as well as their work for the partnership, and after departure.  They often run to many pages and can have complex structures dealing with departure of existing partners and additions of new partners in particular.
  • In the absence of a contract in writing, or if your Partnership Agreement is silent on any aspect, then there’s some really bad news – you are subject to the Partnership Act 1890 – a comprehensive piece of legislation that imposes all sorts of rights and obligations on partners whether you like it or not. Given this Act was passed in the 19th Century you can imagine how clunky and very ‘not fit for purpose’ this is in the modern age. Pitfall to be avoided!!!!!

You will see often in contracts with freelancers or associates a clause that states specifically that no partnership is being created between the parties who would otherwise satisfy the very wide definition of a partnership – that’s why its there. You do not want to be in partnership with your freelancer assistants usually – and neither do they wish to be in that arrangement with you. Its important this clause features large in your freelancer contracts.

If you do need to go into business with other people, usually the simpler and cleaner way to do this is by shares in a limited company – far more flexibility and much easier to create and regulate what you do.

Here’s useful link about the minimum requirements for a partnership and how to run it, name it and adhere to your obligations.

Take advice. To get your FREE fact sheet on the difference between Limited Companies Partnerships and Sole Traders – just get in touch at enquiries@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk with email header FACT SHEET and we will send that to you pronto. And we promise to be good to our GDPR word and not surreptitiously add you to a data base for future marketing…. cos that’s how we roll.

Limited company or sole trader – what’s the difference? and what’s the best option for me?

What IS the difference? and does it matter?

In short – yes it does matter.
Its still quite surprising how many small businesses use phrases like ‘our company’ and ‘we’re in partnership’ and ‘MD’ when describing their business, or their roles in their business, often erroneously and potentially dangerously.

Lets get some things straight first.

A limited company is one registered at Companies House and which is owned and controlled by Directors and Shareholders. It has rights and responsibilities of its own – which are not the same as the rights and responsibilities of the Directors or Shareholders within it. A limited company is a separate legal ‘person’ ( that means it exists legally independent from any individual – even if there is only one shareholder/director) from its owners or controllers, and should have its own bank account, tax identity and be a party to its contracts. Sometimes Directors and Shareholders are one and the same but they don’t have to be . Not all companies have shares – some can be limited by guarantee. But for most companies its a leadership of directors and an ownership of shareholders – in very simple terms.

An unincorporated business can ether be a sole trader – a self employed person working alone – or sometimes two or a group of people working together – we’ll be looking at this in later blogs. Either way you should not refer to your business as a company, or you as a director of the company, if you are not an incorporated body.

Do you identify what your business is correctly? A limited company must state its full title and its company number on all its public correspondence – for example your website and your email footer, your Terms and Conditions, your contracts with your suppliers, your bank account – so that customers know who they are dealing with. You CANNOT use any name you want – there are some restrictions about what you can call your self so check what’s prohibited or restricted. If you have a trading name that needs to be stated as well. Here’s a helpful link if you need advice about this.

To get your FREE fact sheet on the difference between Limited Companies Partnerships and Sole Traders – just get in touch at enquiries@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk

with email header FACT SHEET and we will send that to you pronto. And we promise to be good to our GDPR word and not surreptitiously add you to a data base for future marketing…. cos that’s how we roll.

Next week…… some pros and cons……