This is a question that comes up from time to time in our workshops and consults:

What is the difference between a proposal and a contract?

In a nutshell, the proposal is your bid for business.  The contract is what legally binds you to provide services for your client.  Let’s break these down.

The Proposal

Depending on the type of wedding business you have, you will most likely want to give the client a proposal after they have met with you in the sales consult.  This is an opportunity for the client to review the information you are proposing and for you to sell them on your services.  This proposal will include any and/or all of the following:

  • Information about the event (couple to be married, location, date, time, and other particulars)
  • What you are proposing to do for the couple:

-Your services as an event planner
-How many floral arrangements and what they will include, if you are a florist
-The scope of your design if you are an invitation designer
-What days and hours you will be present to shoot photography and special requests

  • The price for your services

The proposal can get a lot more detailed and customized as you wish.  You may also propose a few different options. (I recommend offering no more than 3 options.)  The main job of the proposal is to summarize the findings from your consultation, describe how you will service the client, and make a “bid” to work with them.  It’s also a chance for the two parties to agree on the work to be done before working through the contract.  This is still part of the selling phase, so make sure to use all your star power to wow the potential client.

The Contract

The contract is what you send the client after they have agreed to your proposal.  The contract is a legal document.  (The proposal is not.)  The contract will define all of the legalities of how the two parties will work together.  (You may want to revisit our contract series here.)  You will most likely include some of the information from the proposal in the scope of your contract.  This will describe what you will do for the client, how, and under what time frame.  The contract is a legal tool, whereas the proposal is a selling tool.

Is There a Hybrid?

Yes, there can be.  Sorta.  (In this case, it actually just falls into the ‘contract’ category.)  If you sell a product or service that is not very elaborate or does not involve as detailed of a creative process, you will most likely use only a contract.  A venue, for example, typically has only a contract.  (Planners and caterers refer to this as the BEO, banquet event order.)  This contract will be given to the client to review all particulars and sign.

Want to move your wedding business in the right direction? Check out The Action Plan.