Hiring any vendor is a big step forward in the wedding planning process. No matter if you’re booking your venue, your photographer, or your florist, each vendor booked solidifies a little bit more than your big day is real. But, before you sign on that dotted line, there are a few things you should do to make sure you are protected in case anything should go wrong. Keep reading below to find out what they are.

Read every line. This task can’t be stressed enough. Every vendor does business a little bit differently so reading each and every line of your contract will ensure that there are no surprises down the road. If it helps, read it more than once and make notes of the important details like the cancellation policy.

Ask questions. And lots of them. If there is any doubt or you don’t understand anything when reading your contract, ask questions. Don’t let the fear of seeming “dumb” or “unprofessional” scare you. If there is anything you don’t understand or you think needs further explanation, ask.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. I’m not talking about the price here. I’m talking about the terms of the contract. If you are more comfortable with a clause being worded one way over the other, negotiate it. Don’t let any vendor tell you the terms are non-negotiable or that they are standard to their contract and don’t mean anything to your case. If anything were to go wrong, you would be held to those “standard” clauses that “don’t mean anything to you”.

Get every detail in writing. I’m talking every detail. If you insist that vendors follow the same dress code as your guests or that the cake does not contain any dairy, put it in the contract. Other details that should be included are service times, arrival and departure times, deliverables timeline for photographers and videographers, and types of flowers (or examples of types) to be used in your arrangements.

Email communication is best. This point goes back to get every detail in writing. When it comes to discussing the details of your big day, send an email so any change, big or small, is in writing. Even if you have a phone conversation first, follow it up with an email detailing all of the elements you just discussed. By doing this someone can’t claim they were never made aware of the change or that it wasn’t in the contract so they don’t have to abide. Acknowledgment of changes to a contract via email is considered a verbal contract and will hold up in a court of law should anything ever come to that.

Make sure the person paying is named on the contract. If mom or dad is paying the bill, his or her name should be on the contract, not yours. While you can be named as the bride or groom, mom or dad should be listed as the client. Why you ask? Because should anything go wrong, the person whose name is on the contract (who is obligated to sign it) will be held responsible.

Payment dates & amounts should be included. To touch on “get every detail in writing” again, payment dates and amounts should also be included on the contract. Should for any reason the scope of work change thus making the price change, request a new contract.