Legal Issues in Event Planning

Instructor: Savannah Samoszuk

Savannah has over eight years of hotel management experience and holds a master's degree in leadership.

There are many moving factors when it comes to event planning. These moving factors can lead to potential legal issues. This lesson will take a look at some of the common legal issues in event planning.

Event Planning Legal Issues

If you have ever thought about starting your own event planning company or service you probably did not realize the legal issues that could come up. Event planning seems like a simple business concept that will be fun and lucrative. Sam decided to start her own event planning company for weddings. After her first event she had issues with vendors not providing what was agreed upon, as well as running into issues with permits for alcohol at the event. This lesson will take a look at some of the common legal issues event planning faces, including contracts, licenses and permits, and liability protection.

Written Contracts

First, when it comes to event planning there is a need for written contracts. While you would like to trust that everyone will do what they say they are going to do, that does not always happen in business. An event planner needs to make sure to have a written contract with the client detailing expectations, payments, cancellation, and vendors. This will protect the company from legal action if the client says the company did not hold up their end of the deal. Also, the contract will protect the event planning company from losing money. For example, Sam booked a wedding for October, and in the contract she has a deposit that is required to hold the space, as well as a cancellation policy that requires the client to pay 50% of the costs if the event is cancelled within 30 days. Sam has to start booking vendors and putting down deposits of her own to plan the event. The deposit and cancellation policy make it so that Sam does not lose that money if the client cancels. It also holds the client legally accountable.

An event planner also wants to have written contracts with each vendor detailing what will be provided by the vendor and the cost of the service. An event planner typically will be dealing with multiple vendors such as caterers, florists, entertainment, and so on. A contract will help protect the event planner from unforeseen costs and hold the vendor accountable for their services. For example, Sam will sign a contract with the baker for the wedding cake detailing the design, size, and price of the cake as well as the time the cake will be delivered. This will eliminate the chance of the baker changing the price at the last minute. This is why it is important to have written contracts for both clients and vendors.

Licenses and Permits

Next, event planning comes with lots of red tape that event planners need to make sure they are getting all of the right licenses and permits. The most common permit is a permit to serve alcohol. If an event planner does not have their own venue or space they will need to make sure they obtain the right permits to serve alcohol at the venue. Every state is different when it comes to alcohol permits and requirements. For example, in most places Sam will need to hire a licensed bartender to serve alcohol at an event. The fees and penalties associated with not following these rules can be detrimental to a company.

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