Her entire family had come to Cancun to witness the wedding and not all could afford the trip either.
As she stood there waiting for the minister to start, she could not feel more happy.
And then the minister started to speak. The smile on Lynda’s face changed to one of confusion.
Why was the minister speaking in Spanish? Wasn’t the ceremony supposed to be in English? Isn’t that why you had provided the resort with the vows ahead of time?
It was only after the wedding did Lynda find out that her contract specifically stated the the ceremony was going to be in Spanish. But Lynda had not read the contract. She had simply signed it.
Don’t Just Sign The Wedding Contract, Read It First
The above example is not uncommon. Many brides will sign a wedding contract at an all inclusive resort with reading it. They reason that it is standard contract anyways so there can’t be much in the way of surprises. Plus, the resort does so many weddings so it will be hard for them mess up anything anyway.
The reality is that any contract you sign with a resort should be read very carefully. If you don’t insist on a detailed contract, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Promises made by one salesperson may not be kept by the person who replaces them.
Regardless of the situation, you read the entire contract and add any details that may be missing before signing it.
Here is what to look for in a contract for a wedding at an all inclusive resort.
A wedding involves multiple vendors so it goes without saying that you’re going to need a detailed list of everything that the resort will provide on the day of the wedding. As you look over the contract, remember that you are signing what amounts to be 8 different contracts in one.
Because if you were getting each of these vendors separately, you would expect to sign a different contract for each one. Being detailed is the key to the success of any contractual relationship.
Let’s start with the minister
Make sure you specify what language the wedding ceremony is going to be in. The last thing you need is to be wed in a language you don’t understand. You should also look to see if the contract specifies whether the ceremony will be a civil ceremony, a non-denominational one, or any other variety.
The contract should specify the types of flowers, the style, and the number of arrangements that will be prepared for your wedding. It should detail exactly what the bride, groom, and anybody else in the wedding party will be getting. In addition, it should also include what kind of arrangements will be prepared as decorations.
The contract should have language about whether the music provided for the ceremony will be prerecorded and how long it will be. If it is going to be live music, then you should know what is going to be played.
The contract should specify the flavor of the cake, the number of tiers, and the size (how many will feed).
The contract should state if the resort will help you attain a marriage license. It should include language on what their responsibilities will be, and how me days in advance you have to provide the documents so they can help expedite the marriage license. In addition, it should include who is going to pay for the marriage license and the government fees that are standard at most destination weddings. Some all inclusive wedding packages include the fees (Jumby Bay) while others don’t (Sandals).
The contract should state what package is included along with a line item breakdown of what you can expect. Things that should be included in the contract is the number of photos, CDs, size of photographs, and the prices. It should also include pricing for any additional photos that you may choose to buy afterwards. Make sure that the contract states that the copyright of your wedding photos is released to you.
The wedding contract should also go over what kind of wedding prep will be provided. It should state how many people will get their hair and makeup done along with the bride, what time they will show up, and how much time they will spend getting everyone ready.
The resort wedding contract should include the menu, the number of guests allowed, the cost, the set up, and the location of the dinner.
The contract should also state whether the reception is going to be private or if everyone will be seated in one of the restaurants near each other. Make sure the contract stated a backup location for the reception dinner in case the original location is unavailable due to weather.
If there are different price levels for children’s menus, then make sure that the breakdown of adults and children is correct. The contract should also include the hourly rate the resort will charge in case you exceed the designated time for the reception.
If you have an approved outside vendor, then make sure that the contract states that the resort is allowing this. Remember that if it is not included in the contract, it is not guaranteed.
Your wedding contract should state the group discount for the rooms to be used by wedding guests (Did you know that the average discount for a group is over 20%). Many resorts offer a free wedding based on the number of rooms you and your wedding guests use so make sure the details are included in the contract.
Things to look for are the group rate, the complementary room ratio, and the number of rooms needed to be reserved in order for you to get credit towards your wedding. To learn more about getting rooms for a destination wedding, click here.
Some other things look for in the contract are whether you can use the amenities at a nearby sister property and the cost to attend the wedding for guests who are not staying at the resort (For example, Sandals charges $15 per guest).
Things look for:
- What is the attrition rate, if applicable
- What is the cancellation policy? What happens to the deposit if you cancel?
- What is the deposit? When is it due? Typically, the resort will look for 50% of the deposit within a week or two of signing the contract and the other 50% about 60 days ahead of the wedding.
- Date and time of wedding
- Will your wedding will be the only one or are there going to be multiple weddings. If there is going to be more than one wedding on the same date, then how long is the gap between each wedding?
- Hurricane policy should be listed.
Wedding Package Details
Make sure every detail of your all inclusive wedding package is spelled out line by line (Learn the basics of all inclusive resort wedding packages). Things you should look for are the length of the ceremony, the length of the reception dinner, rehearsal dinner specifics, and if there are any extras that you have elected.
Also, don’t assume that the wedding planner is included in your package unless the contract specifically states that. If you were promised a pre-wedding planner and a day of wedding coordinator then make sure that both are included in the contract.
Any customizations you have made to existing packages, or any additions that you have requested should also be in the contract.
Many all-inclusive resorts have a free wedding option if you stay a certain number of nights at the resort. Other resorts provide a free wedding based on the number of nights your wedding guests stay at the hotel. Regardless of the deal, make sure it is spelled out clearly.
The contract should have language that states that you will be made whole in the case the resort has to cancel your wedding for any reason.
There’s also going to be a whole bunch of additional clauses (we refer to them as mumbo-jumbo) in your destination wedding contract. If you want to know about these clauses, reader our article on hotel contract language (i.e. Mumbo Jumbo).
As you can see from reading above, the contract for a destination wedding package at a resort is going to be very detailed and thorough. Having read this article, you are now ready to look over your wedding contract to see what it’s missing.
Disclosure: before signing any contracts, consult a lawyer
What to do next
If you are planning a destination wedding, then you will need rooms for guests. Learn how to get group rates and block hotel rooms for a destination wedding in less than a half hour.