Module 9: Making It All Legal

To do



It’s time to get legitimate! By now you should have an idea as to what you’re going to call yourself. So let’s make it legal. However, before you get too excited, there is one last thing you need to think about. What type of business are you? Are you a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company?


Sole Proprietorship

This is what I recommend you apply for the first year owning a wedding planning business. It doesn’t take much to apply for a sole proprietorship; all you need is your social society number. The benefits are that it’s easy to set up and it’s the least costly form of ownership. You usually only pay a fee to the state every few years. The major con is that you face unlimited liability, which means if you were to get sued, you could lose any and all assets you might have.



Unless you have a BBF you trust 110%, I wouldn’t recommend going in this direction. Partnerships are icky and can sometimes get messy if things go south. You can have two types of partnerships: a general partnership or a limited partnership. Do your research before you decide which direction best fits your needs.


Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Once you have a steady stream of income from your wedding planning business, then it’s time to become an LLC. The sweet thing about an LLC is you’re not considered a corporation, but the owners enjoy limited liability like in a corporation. This means only your business assets can be levied against. Please note that you need to pay an annual fee for your LLC. The fee amount will depend on the state in which you reside. The paperwork to become an LLC is a bit challenging, so it can get expensive if you decide to hire an attorney. There are online companies like that can help you create an LLC that are a little less expensive.  


Register with the State

Once you have decided on the type of ownership you want to have, then you will need to register your business with the state. Every state is different, but if you google “Starting a Business in {State},” then you should be pointed in the right direction.


Register with the City

To do business in your city, you will most likely need a business license. This is not the same as registering with the state. Google “{City} business license” to get you started in the process. There will be another fee you will have to pay, and you will probably be required to pay it annually. It’s important to note that most venues will require a licensed wedding planner to work at their venue.

If you are a newer wedding consultant, you might be wondering if getting wedding planner insurance is really necessary. There are no standards in this business yet, so no one will be breathing down your neck and asking you for proof of insurance. But as a rule, and in my professional opinion, it is necessary and you should have it. I have used Hiscox in the past, so I recommend checking them out.


Bodily Injury

Just imagine with me for a sec—you’re setting up a wedding. Boxes of stuff are all around you. A guest (who is trying to be helpful) isn’t paying attention and trips over your boxes. She falls and lands on her wrist, trying to catch herself. She is in pain, and you get her some ice. Days later you find out her wrist is broken when you’re served with papers. She’s decided to sue you. Are you aware of the cost of medical bills these days? My son broke his leg last year and the ER visit was $24,000! $24,000!!! He never even had surgery or a cast, y’all. He spent a whole six hours there. Thank goodness for insurance! Having insurance can help you defray the cost if Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head during your event.


Property Damage

Property damage is a little bit more likely than bodily injury at a wedding. I once heard about a florist who hung decor on the ceiling of a venue and when she took it down the next day, it had totally destroyed the custom crown molding. It was so bad she had to file a claim through her insurance company. Make sure you’re covered so you don’t have to pay for damages out of pocket if something like that happens.



Most venues require $1 million in general liability coverage. Sometimes you’ll need a certificate with the venue’s name on it. Requirements will vary from venue to venue, so be sure to find out exactly what you need for each one you work with.

If you want to get paid without it messing up your books (for taxes proposes and all that jazz), you need to set up a business bank account. But there are other benefits to opening up a business bank account too.


Accepting Online Payments

Did you know that you will book a bride faster if you have an online payment option available? It’s true. To receive online payments from brides, you will need to register your banking information with PayPal or Stripe.


Bank or Credit Union

Depending on the bank you decide to go with, opening up a business account should be free. I recommend going with a credit union if at all possible. Credit unions seem to treat their patrons a little better.


Open an Account

To open up an account, you’ll need to complete some paperwork. For example, a printout of your business entity will probably be required. Go to your bank’s website and search “business account.” It should show you what documents you’ll need and explain the process for opening an account.


    If you’re just starting out and wondering what you need to protect yourself and your brand, I highly recommend that you get a contract of some kind. A good wedding planner contract will not only protect you from any legal issues that may arise, but it will also help you set boundaries with your clients. Understanding and being firm about your boundaries will help build your brand in a positive way.


    Wedding or Event Planner Contract [Necessity]

    It’s amazing to me how far the internet has come since I started out six short years ago. Nowadays you can find anything and everything online. A great place to look is The Engaged Legal Collective. Caroline is a recovering attorney who stumbled upon serving creatives. She has tons of contract templates for wedding professionals. If you want to do full-service wedding planning, this is a great place to start.


    Non-Disclosure Agreement for New Hires or Collaborations [Good Idea]

    Protecting the way you do things is important, and having a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a good idea when thinking of hiring help. Now, I wouldn’t call it a necessity unless you are planning to hire someone to help you with business operations or to take on weddings. If you just want someone to help you on the day of a wedding, you will want an Independent Contractor Contract. If you’re ready to hire an employee or an evolved IC, then it’s time to get an NDA. Check out The Engaged Legal Collective for more information.


    Independent Contractor Contract Template [Necessity]

    If you haven’t already, you will soon figure out that you will want help on the day of a wedding. There is far too much for one person to do, and you can’t be in two (or three) places at once. That is why an IC Contract is a necessity. I once had a hired hand post pictures of my wedding on her WeddingWire site. If she had read her contract carefully, she would have seen that posting those pictures was a no-no. She was asked to take them down and because I had a contract with her, there was no issue. Like I said, boundaries. Even if a good friend or neighbor is helping you, things happen and you need to make sure you’re protected.



    Styled Shoot Contract Template [Good Idea]

    Styled shoots are one of the best things you can do for your brand. Why? For two reasons: 1) to get to know vendors and 2) to show clients what you can do. That being said, you might want to think about getting a styled-shoot contract. A contract will cover your expectations for vendors and clarify how they can use the pictures. For example, you don’t want a vendor to submit the photos to a blog before you’ve had your say first. Although this contract was originally designed for photographers, it can be edited to fit your needs.



    Contract Discount

    Contracts are not just a good idea, they are a necessity in any type of business dealing. Wedding planning is no exception to the rule. Set boundaries with your clients and protect yourself and your brand with a good contract that you fully understand. Save 20% on any Engaged Legal contract


    Amendment to Contract

    Extra services get added all the time. When this happens, you need to create an amendment to the contract. This way, there is a record and paper trail if anything ever gets disputed. Here is an example of an amendment contract (I’m not a lawyer and therefore all contracts should be checked with a local attorney). 

    1. This amendment (the “Amendment”) is made by [client name]  and [your company], parties to the agreement dated [days date].

    2. The Agreement is amended as follows:

    [New services added] has been added to the service agreement. Payment for this service is due [due date].

    3. Except as set forth in this Amendment, the Agreement is unaffected and shall continue in full force and effect in accordance with its terms. If there is conflict between this amendment and the Agreement or any earlier amendment, the terms of this amendment will prevail.

    Cancellation Contract

    If a client decides to cancel your services (maybe the wedding was called off) or you decide to fire them, you should have them sign a cancellation contract. This is just a nice way of officially ending things. Here is an example of an cancellation contract (I’m not a lawyer and therefore all contracts should be checked with a local attorney).  

    This Cancellation of Contract entered into this day [The Effective Day] by and between [client name] and [company name](collectively the “parties”).

    Whereas the parties entered into a Wedding Contract for wedding services on [original contract].

    Whereas the parties hereby acknowledge that neither party has fully performed its duties or obligations pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in the original contract.

    Whereas the parties to the Original Contract and to the cancellation hereby mutually agree to rescind the Original Contract thereby returning the parties to their respective positions before the Original Contract’s effective Date;

    Now therefore, for the reasons set forth above, and in the consideration of the mutual covenants of the Parties hereto, the parties agree as follows:

    1. Per the original contract the retainer is non-refundable. The other party is released from the obligation of the remaining balance. 

    2. The Original Contract is hereby terminated and deemed null and void as of the effective date and neither party shall have any further rights or legal obligations thereunder.

    3. The Parties release and forever discharge any and all liabilities that have arisen or may arise from the Original Contract, and the Parties waive any and all claims to assert any claim which has arisen or may arise from the Original Contract prior to the effective date of this agreement.

    4.  [client] agrees now, and after not to disparage or defame [your company] in any respect or to make any derogatory comments, whether written or oral, regarding [your company] or its current or former officers,directors, employees, agents, or contracting parties, or its business or operations.