Monday, October 14, 2013

Wedding Industry Legal Tips: Q&A with Rob Schenk

In the wedding industry, there are contracts upon contracts, clauses upon clauses. With contracts, inevitably, will come lawsuits. Even if you think you have done everything perfectly, if one tiny thing involved with the wedding goes wrong, the search for a scapegoat will begin.

In order to protect yourself against frivolous lawsuits, you want to have a good grasp of the law. That being said, I contacted business law attorney Rob Schenk, who represents wedding industry professionals. He was kind enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Wedding Industry Law: Rob's online resource for legal news and education about the wedding profession
What is the strangest wedding industry case you have seen? 

I love the lawsuit where the Groom sued his Wedding Photographer SIX YEARS LATER claiming that the photographer showed up late, failed to capture portions of the event, and did not have knowledge of the venue as claimed. What makes this one awesome is that the Groom demanded $48,000 to fly everyone back to NY and reenact the missing portions of the Wedding! What makes this one TOTALLY awesome is that he's now divorced! You can check out more info on the case here. 

If a contract does not explicitly say that a retainer or deposit is refundable/non-refundable, how will a court view any dispute between a vendor and their client? 

It will depend on other language in the contract, and sometimes, who the Judge believes. This is why it is extremely important that contract terms are explicit and the age old question, "What happens if I cancel the wedding X days before the wedding," should be clearly spelled out. 

Do you have any recommendations for wedding/event planners regarding injury liability? For example, say a guest gets hurt at a venue that the planner booked for the event. 

I routinely see Wedding Venue Operators requiring that the Bride/Groom acquire Event Insurance to cover these type of issues. Better safe than sorry.

Who owns the rights to wedding photos/video: bride & groom or photographers/videographers? 

This will depend on what the contract says. Generally, the person capturing the images (still or video) is the copyright owner. This means that the photographer/videographer has exclusive rights to distribute, duplicate, sell, burn, whatever. This would be the case even though the services are paid for by the Bride/Groom. Unless, as stated, the issue of copyright ownership is laid out in the contract. 

What is the top piece of advice you would give wedding professionals across the board?

Work only with a written contract. Work only with a written contract that you understand and that covers the issue of MONEY, CANCELLATION, and VENDOR DUTIES. 

We'd like to thank Rob for taking his time to provide us with some excellent legal advice. You can check out some case studies and more great advice from Rob at

About Rob:
As a business law attorney representing wedding industry professionals, Rob Schenk concentrates his practice in two areas: advocating for clients currently engaged in litigation and counseling clients on how to avoid litigation. Understanding the common disputes that arise from the ‘big day,’ Rob provides advice on a daily basis regarding contract provisions and business methods that help reduce the risk of a lawsuit with Bridezilla. 
Robert's Social Media: TwitterFacebook

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