The last thing you want to hear from your wedding professional two weeks before your wedding is “I won’t be there”.
This past summer I had multiple people call me last-minute because their wedding DJ cancelled on them. When I’d ask them if they had a contract or paid a deposit with the DJ they hired, the answer would invariably be no. I would always try to assist them but oftentimes I would already be booked and would not be able to find another professional DJ that was available for their date on last minute’s notice. I’ve also seen quite a few people posting on local wedding Facebook groups and Kijiji how their photographer/hairdresser/DJ/etc. cancelled on them last minute.
Contracts and deposits exist for two reasons. To protect the vendor, and to protect you. For a professional like myself, dates are my inventory. I secure them with a deposit and a contract. Once I have a deposit and a signed contract, that date is no longer available to anyone else. If a client backs out at the last minute, that contract protects me as I will likely no longer be able to fill that date, and the deposit ensures that I can still feed my family. Contracts also protect the client. By signing a contract and very importantly paying a deposit, that legally binds the professional to provide the services agreed upon. Without a contract or deposit, you have no recourse if and when that vendor decides that they don’t want to provide that service, or they found someone else that is willing to give them more money for the same date. It happens all the time.
Protect yourself. If you’re planning to hire someone and they are not willing to provide you with a contract and secure it with a deposit, I highly recommend you walk away and find another professional.