In previous posts here on the Celebrant Institute – like this one – we’ve talked about how a great service contract is a really good starting point for defining the relationship you have with your clients, so when disaster or pandemic strikes, neither of you are “wondering where we stand” because it’s in writing already and agreed upon already.

We’ve had a few questions about the service contract and wanted to address them here.

John asks:

I want to buy the contract for $120. But is it possible to see a sample first, please?

Giving an example of the contract is literally exactly the same just giving you the contract, and we don’t trust that all of our members would still pay for it when they could simply copy it. We’ve invested financially in a lawyer to create this contract, and in the programming to personalise it to your needs, so we’d love for you to pay for it.

But, if you pay for it and have issue with it, we will consider making a refund.

Also, here’s a bit of a feel of what the contract looks and reads like.

Gemma asks:

I’m currently looking at ways to merge this contract with my pre-existing one. Can you give any recommendations on a clause about cancellations that are not due to the clients’ or the celebrant’s choice, but based on government recommendations or mandates?

It sounds like you’re getting close to the point where you should talk to Jamie at Pod Legal about a custom designed service contract. The importance of a lawyer creating a single flowing contract is that one part doesn’t contradict the other, and more importantly, just because we put something in our service contract it doesn’t make it legal or that it will stand up in court. Jamie’s got. 20% discount for our members.

My current not-a-lawyer recommendation on cancellations due to government mandates is that the government mandate stands well above our contracts. I don’t have a clause in my contract saying I won’t murder anyone, because the Queensland murder laws supersede my service contract.

However, if you wish to make amendments, and I have made a small number, particularly around days/dates/due dates etc, I would edit the general contract and if you need to add a line, make sure the numbering still works out and makes sense. But don’t just add all the things like pandemics, because the contract already covers you for cancellations, and I would be careful about making your contract an invalid one.

How to use it

A few people have asked about how to use it. I use mine as part of my booking process, in Dubsado, the client is presented with a service contract to acknowledge and digitally sign.

The important thing to look for in your process is that the client has read it, or at least been given every opportunity to read it, and they acknowledge it with an action. This might be a “typing your name to sign it” or if you use Gravity Forms on your website they can literally sign. It might be simply stating “by clicking submit on this form you accept this service contract”, or you could go old-school and get them to sign it on paper.

Paper signatures don’t make it any more legal, but in the end, both of you – the couple and you – need to be satisfied that you have agreed to the contract. As part of my process I automatically email them a copy of the service contract so they have it on record.

How to talk about it

I talk to my clients about my service contract like this:

This service contract defines the outer limits of our relationship so that from the beginning we both know what our expectations are of each other. It empowers me to run a sustainable business that will still be in business when your wedding date comes around, and well into the future. It empowers you to plan your wedding knowing that I will be there, and if a worst case scenario occurs, that I will make best efforts to provide a celebrant for you.

Get a service contract for you

I believe it is so important for those of us who charge a fee for our services to have a legally bound service contract to define that commercial relationship so that all of our expectations are met, and if you don’t have your expectations in writing, how can you expect them to be met?

So from here, you can get a general service contract created by Jamie from Pod Legal for Celebrant Institute members below, or you can contact Jamie and save 20% on a custom contract that suits your business purposes directly.