Contracts 101


Event planning and contracts … the two go hand in hand. For seasoned event planners, contracts are often second nature. For new event planners, contracts can seem daunting with the legal jargon. This blog post is here to help.

What is a contract?
A contract is simply defined as an agreement between two or more parties. It is legally binding in a court of law. Contracts are in place to protect both parties.

Do I have to sign a contract?
Yes! If a company doesn’t offer you a contract, request one. This is your safety net when it comes to executing your event.

Who signs the contract?
This can be a little harder to clearly define since your church or organization might have rules set in place. Make sure to contact those in leadership positions within your organization prior to signing a contract. The person signing may be held financially responsible.

What should event contracts include?
It is not uncommon to have contracts with multiple entities. Depending on your event logistics, you may have contracts with a venue, hotel, guest speaker, worship band, rental companies, catering companies, etc.

Every contract should include dates and rates. Dates can include the actual event date plus any type of cancellation policies. For contracts with speakers or bands, clearly defined travel arrangements should be included. Contracts with musicians and some speakers also come with riders, documents explaining technical and hospitality needs. Rental and catering companies should include specific items requested and set-up/tear-down times, as well as dates to give a final guest guarantee. Housing contracts should include room types and dates pertaining to when and how room blocks can be adjusted (and any related financial impact).

In addition, all contracts should have an “Acts of God” or “force majeure” clause in the event a natural occurrence cancels or significantly alters an event.

What makes a contract binding?
In the past, verbal contracts were solidified by a handshake, or, if the parties really wanted to reach an agreement, the handshake might include spitting on the hand prior to the shake. Thankfully, spitting on hands isn’t a common practice today. Contracts are fully executed once signed by both parties. In some cases, a deposit might be required, as well.

What should I do before I sign a contract?
READ IT. All OF IT. And read it again. Know what you are committing yourself to before signing the agreement. Be detailed as you go through each section. Have another person read it, as well. As you work with contracts from different entities, cross reference them to make sure there are no discrepancies. For example, if your venue states you cannot bring in outside food, yet your worship band requires a certain type of food in their green room, you’ll need to make sure the catering company through the venue will be able to provide that and at what cost. Read it … and read it again!

What should I do after I sign a contract?
Keep a copy on file to refer to as needed. Also, go through each contract and note deadlines for various tasks. Schedule these on your calendar a week prior to when they are due in case you need to complete any additional work to meet that deadline. Deadlines could include room block adjustment dates, guarantees for catering, housing lists and room set-up forms turned in, and so on.

Event planners, don’t be afraid of contracts. Contracts are put in place to protect both you, your participants, and those you are working with. Realize they are legally binding, and you will be held to the terms of the agreement. Read them carefully. If you don’t understand something in the contract, ask prior to signing. Understand what you are committing to before you commit to it.


Music For Events… Keeping It Legal

Events use a lot of music, and your event is probably no exception.

Music before the event.  Music during your event.  Music in videos.  Music in breaks.  You can see where this is going.

I thought today we would look at music copyrights and how they pertains to your event.  Now first let me say, please don’t take what I’m saying as the gospel truth.  If you have any questions or concerns passed this post, please take a moment to consult a lawyer, or contact the song’s publishing company directly.  If you can’t afford that (entertainment lawyers aren’t cheap!), Google can be your friend.

If your event is hosted in a church, more than likely the church has a CCLI license that covers most song uses that your event has.  This includes performance on stage, printed lyrics, music in videos and more.

If your event is not in a church, check with the venue to see if they have a license with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) like ASCAP or BMI.  If they do have a license with the PRO, any song usage like what’s listed above, would be covered with that license.

Another area to consider is use of a song for promotional purposes.  If you’re doing something in the 30 second range you’re covered, however, if you’re doing anything longer two licenses need to be secured: a publishing license and a master use license.

The publishing license is from the song publisher.  Typically this information can be found in the credits of the song and could be multiple publishing companies.  The master use license is use granted from the master recording owner.  Typically that is the record company.  If you have a recording you would like to use, I would contact the record label directly.

The same goes for use of a song. Contact the publishing company directly with any questions.  They’re use to getting these types of calls, and can point you in the right direction.

How To Write An Incredible Speaker Profile

The main speaker at an event can make it or break it.  The celebrity and/or content that they bring is a large part of the draw your event holds for attendees.   To maximize on the amazing speaker you are centering your event around, you need an speaker profile.  Your profile should be included in marketing materials, on your event website, and in materials you hand out during your event. The profile you create might be the difference between an attendee registering for your event, or deciding not to. So how can you best represent your main speakers and break-out speakers in a profile?

  1. Always include a photo.  A photo communicates things about a person that words cannot. As soon as you have signed a speaker for an event ask them, or their PR person, to email you a “head shot.”  A head shot is a professional photo that focuses on the face.  A speaker should have one of these prepared and available.
  2.  Choose facts that exhibit their expertise.  With just two or three paragraphs available, you could write twenty different profiles about any given person- so narrow down the information that is best for this event, this topic and this audience.
  3. Write in an active voice.  This sounds technical, but it’s really not.  Writing in an active voice means writing so that the subject of your sentence does the action.  Here’s an example: “Steve has led hundreds of youth on missions around the world.”  A passive voice would read: “Hundreds of youth have been led around the world on mission trips by Steve.”
  4. Include a few personal tidbits to help your audience connect.  Try mentioning a favorite hobby, hometown, or family information.  Be sure to check with your speaker before sharing anything too personal.

Speaker Profile Checklist:

  • Photo
  • Profession
  • Education/experience
  • Awards, professional associations, books written.
  • Hometown, hobbies, family info.

You want to represent your speaker as an expert on their topic, and provide relevant information that backs up their expertise.  Writing an excellent profile is important not only for the introduction of your speaker, but also for advertising purposes.  After you have included all the necessary information, add a few personal facts that can humanize your speaker a bit, it rounds out the profile and helps the audience connect with them.  Don’t rush through your written speaker profile, it’s more important than you might think!

Don’t Make This CCLI Mistake

If you work with faith based organizations, you are probably familiar with the Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) organization.  This organization allows faith groups to purchase a licensing number under which they can legally use copyrighted worship songs. You may have seen the numbers listed at the end of displayed worship song texts.

But here’s something you may not know.  If you are hosting an event, and worship songs are projected, they must be licensed under the number of the hosting site, not the visiting group.  This also means that the event location will be responsible for reporting the songs used, so that royalties can be paid to the appropriate artists.

The director of a large Christian conference center was surprised when he was contacted by CCLI and asked for a report of all the activity in the past six months.  He had been operating under the assumption that the visiting groups were reporting the songs they used under their license numbers.  He was shocked to learn it was his responsibility, and it took many weeks to track down all of the groups that had attended and get song information from them.  Now, he includes a request for song information in the registration packet and reports songs on a weekly basis.

Organizations will be contacted by CCLI every two and a half years and asked for a reporting on the past six months.  It is best to get into the habit of making a report every week, instead of scrambling to gather information after the fact.  You can log in to report songs at  The CCLI website has a special module where you can look up songs, report them, and even invite other staff to report songs as well.

Copyrights and legal perimeters can be confusing, but with a little effort on the front end this is one area where you can breathe easy.  If you host faith based organizations during an event, take the time to be aware of this responsibility and know how you will address it.

Resources – June Update

Here at Ministry Serving Ministry, we are constantly on the lookout for content we believe may be helpful to our readers.  Here is what we’ve added in June by category to our resources.


Understanding Generational Differences – The Key to Attracting, Motivating and Retaining Your Workforce…

Planning a Women’s Retreat and Can’t Think of a Theme? –  There are dozens and dozens to choose from right here…

Site Selection

Safety First – Safety and security planning has long been a hot topic in the meetings and convention industry…


The Great Shift – Meetings, no matter at what level, have a major influence on government, business and organizations…

Teambuilding:  Its Important Role in Stressful Times – When I mention I’m passionate about teambuilding the eyes roll, or look away…

Meeting Planners

Principles of Professionalism – meetings management and meeting professionals under a microscope…

I hope you find these helpful and remember we have many more than might interest you  in the Meeting Planner Resources section of the blog.

Ridgecrest Recipes – Chocolate Waffle a la Mode

I don’t know about you, but this recipe hooked me at the word CHOCOLATE! I love eating pretty much anything chocolate. However, I must confess that I am somewhat of a chocolate snob. Years ago my wife converted me from milk chocolate to dark chocolate and I’ve never been the same!

This month’s recipe is fast becoming a new favorite at Ridgecrest and I’m pretty sure I know why…CHOCOLATE! I can’t wait to try it out the next time we have company over for dinner. I encourage you to try it out as well. I think I can guarantee it’ll be a hit!

Chocolate Waffle a la Mode

  • 1 package brownie mix
  • pistachios, toasted
  • vanilla and/or chocolate ice cream
  • chocolate syrup of your choice
  • home-style giant waffle maker

Prepare brownie mix as directed, adding 2-3 tablespoons water to thin mix slightly. Pre-heat waffle maker and pour in brownie mix just as you would if making regular waffles. Remove brownie waffle, top with ice cream, chocolate syrup and pistachios.

Have to say…just typing this out has given me a chocolate craving and the M&M dispenser on my desk is empty!

Quick question…Do you prefer milk or dark chocolate?

Ridgecrest Recipes – Pecan Crusted Pork Loin

Last month we introduce a new, monthly series on the blog called “Ridgecrest Recipes”. The first offering was for Rutland Chicken (read here) and hopefully you tried it out at home with your family. This month we’re featuring a pecan crusted pork loin with a delicious pan sauce.

Once you’ve had a chance to experience this great pork loin option, please stop back by the blog and let us know how you liked it.


Pecan Crusted Pork Loin

  • 3- 4 lb. boneless pork loin
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup chicken broth

Pan Sauce – Heat all drippings from roasted pork loin (including pecans), chicken stock, red wine, and 1 T. flour. Let simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Sauté chopped pecans with butter, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Then season pork loin with remaining dry spices and coat with seasoned pecans. Roast at 350 degrees until internal temperature of 155 is reached. Let pork rest for 30 minutes and slice into 1/3 inch thick portions. Top pork with pan sauce and serve.