You’ve heard about a prenuptial agreement and maybe even a postnuptial agreement, but have you heard of a wedding agreement? They’re the new kid on the block when it comes to contracts and it may not be what you think it is. A wedding agreement is typically a private contract between two people to pay for a wedding. It’s very straightforward: one party pays for the wedding, in exchange for paying for the wedding, the wedding must actually happen. If the wedding doesn’t happen for whatever reason (you can decide), then the OTHER person has to pay back the original payer. This is the general premise of a wedding contract but the terms can vary, depending on your situation. Let’s discuss more in depth on what this might look like.
What is a wedding agreement?
A wedding agreement is a contract between two people to pay for a wedding. If the wedding doesn’t happen (for whatever reason), then the OTHER person has to pay for the wedding. This contract may be between a groom and a bride, or maybe the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents, or any other combination.
For example, let’s say John and Jennie are getting married. John has a tendency to cheat on Jennie and Jennie’s parents are hesitant to pay for the wedding because of this. They don’t want to drop $100,000 on their lavish wedding when there’s a high chance John cheats and Jennie calls it off anyway. So, they execute a wedding agreement. Jennie’s parents will pay for the wedding, SO LONG AS the wedding actually happens. If John is the cause of the wedding not happening due to his adultery, then John must reimburse the parents for their money spent. If the wedding DOES happen, then all is good and Jennie’s parents will still foot the bill.
A wedding agreement is a private contract between a couple and they’re not yet married (or it might not even be between the parents of the couple), so this type of agreement would typically not be handled through a family law court, but rather a civil court and civil laws will apply, not family laws. Why does this matter? Well, contracts under family law (like prenups and postnups) tend to be more regulated with more legal hurdles as compared to a regular old civil contract.
Wedding agreement vs. prenuptial agreement
What is the difference between a wedding agreement and a prenuptial agreement? Well, a wedding agreement ONLY talks about who pays for the wedding, whereas a prenup does so much more than that. A prenup handles assets, debt, spousal support, confidentiality, pets, taxes, and much more, in the event of divorce and/or death. Prenups can also set requirements for during the marriage, as well, such as requiring joint bank accounts.
You could technically have both a wedding agreement and a prenuptial agreement. You could create a wedding agreement that would basically turn into a prenup once married. Or execute two separate contracts. It would depend on your state law and your specific desires for the contract(s) on how you should go about executing both.
Reasons why people would want a wedding agreement
So, why would someone want to get a wedding agreement? Well there could be various reasons:
The relationship is a flight risk and the person paying for it doesn’t want to risk losing their money. For example, if one person is a known cheater or the relationship has been on the rocks for some time, the person paying for the wedding, such as the bride or groom’s parents, may want some reassurances that it will actually happen and they won’t just throw their money out the window, essentially.
Peace of mind for the person paying for the wedding. Just like when you put down a huge chunk of money for ANYTHING, there is usually a contract. It can simply be about peace of mind for the person spending the dough, especially if it’s an expensive wedding!
Expectation setting on behalf of the people getting married and the person paying for the wedding. This may be setting certain terms in the contract, like, we’ll pay for the wedding, but the groom must be on his best behavior and no funny business. Maybe the groom is notorious for heavy drinking or partying and tends to mess things up. This may be a way to set the expectation that the groom has to behave, otherwise, he PAYS. Or maybe it’s just that the wedding actually has to happen. If no wedding=you pay us back.
Example of a wedding agreement
If you’ve ever dabbled in the Bravo reality TV universe, then you probably know of Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula of Summer House. They are a fun-loving couple with a history of a rocky relationship. Kyle has a history of cheating and lots of late drunken nights. As a result, they have a wedding agreement in place between Amanda’s parents (who planned to pay for the wedding) and Kyle. If Kyle can’t control his drinking and/or cheats on her before the wedding, then he has to pay back Amanda’s parents in full, “every single penny” as Amanda said. She further explained that they didn’t even do this with a lawyer, they simply wrote the contract on a piece of paper and signed it. Why? Amanda was concerned that his drinking behaviors would lead to cheating and she didn’t want her parents to be held footing the bill for Kyle’s bad behavior. Kyle obliged because he wanted to show his commitment to the marriage, wedding, and controlling his drinking behaviors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about wedding agreements
Q: What is the difference between a wedding contract and a prenup?
A: A wedding contract only says who pays for the wedding. A prenup does so much more. A prenup talks about what happens during the marriage, in divorce, and sometimes even in death.
Q: What is a wedding contract?
A: A wedding contract is an agreement between two people to pay for a wedding. If the wedding doesn’t happen, then the original person that paid will be reimbursed by a certain person (you can decide on how that would work).
Q: Can I have both a wedding contract and a prenup?
A: In theory, yes, you can have both. You may want to check with a local attorney to make sure this would be acceptable in your state, though.
Q: Are wedding contracts enforceable?
A: Wedding contracts are relatively uncommon, and their enforceability remains uncertain due to the limited number of cases that have been litigated within the judicial system. However, it is highly probable that such agreements would be deemed enforceable under the civil codes of numerous states.
Wedding contracts are a new and infrequent type of contract that two people may engage in before getting married. The main purpose? Make sure that the person paying for the wedding gets reimbursed if the wedding doesn’t happen because of XYZ. Wedding contracts and prenups are two completely separate types of agreements, don’t get it twisted! You can have both but you should not substitute out a prenup for a wedding contract because a wedding contract does not come close to covering all of the topics that a prenup does!
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]