Post # 1
Hi Bees and professional photogs who know so much more about this than I do. I need your advice….but I need to give you the back story -bear with me!
The short version is that we picked a photog that has now cancelled 3 meetings on us- we are doing a Destination Wedding and did not meet him before giving him a deposit. Each cancellation has been extremely last minute (like him cancelling 30 minutes after we were supopsed to meet). We have decided to drop this guy and just eat our deposit for 2 reasons – (1) if he can’t make a meeting (or even cancel in advance), what is to say he will actually make our weding and (2) if we cancel now, we are only out the 50% deposit rather than the full fee (if he bails on the wedding), which was due 2 weeks before the wedding.
Now we are back to looking for photogs….we are being much more cautious, looking for reviews, etc. We made our mistake and hopefully will learn from it. However, the two top contenders right now both require full payment before the wedding (2 days for 1 guy, 14 days for the other one). We have no problem paying a deposit….we know that is how we hold the date….but why do we have to pay the full balance in advance?
We are paying the venue and DJ on the day of. Actually, my DOC will be paying these vendors for me. IMO, the photog shows up, does the 10 hours of work, and he gets paid……granted…..we will have to wait for him to finish our pics (which takes many more hours, I know), but why do we have to pay in advance? I mean, if I pay big $$ 2 weeks in advance, and the guy does not show up, I am screwed financially. If he shows up and I don’t pay the remainder of the balance….then he does not shoot my wedding. Granted he loses that day of work, but as so many photogs have said before, the actual “work” a photog does lasts weeks after a wedding. So he no longer has to work those hours retouching the pics AND he still has my deposit to help cover the losses……
This makes sense to me, but I am not a photographer…..so why require full payment before the actual event?
Your advice is appreciated!
Post # 3
I’m not sure if there are standards that vary based on city, but we’re doing our payment the day-of.
Post # 4
- Wedding: August 2011 - St. Joseph's Parish, Seattle Tennis Club
I think this really varies, but we paid the remainder to our photographer 14 days before.
Post # 5
We completed our payments 2 weeks before. We paid with our credit card so if anything goes wrong we can dispute the charges. But I really trust our photographer.
Actually we had to pay almost all of our vendors up front. . . not sure why that is.
Post # 6
Most of our vendors will require full payment 2 weeks before the wedding. I actually prefer it done this way. Who wants to worry about paying vendors, writing checks, etc. the day of the wedding? Yuck.
Post # 7
Most vendors that we met with wanted payment 2 weeks prior. Our photog asked for it day of. I requested paying the balance upon receipt of the proofs or in our case disks. We gave him a 20% deposit, we will pay 60% day of our wedding and will pay the remaining 20% when we pick up our images. He was very willing to negotiate and work with us, which made him an easy choice.
Post # 8
She asked for 14 days ahead of time, I negotiated to day of.
Post # 9
one thing i thought about when you said that if you don’t pay him on the day of, he only loses a day of work, but i don;t think you can really say that since its not like photogs get paid daily and if i work a 4 instead of 5 day work week, then in still get 4 days pays. The payment for a wedding or event is probably pay that lasts them through all those days of editing, so i guess i would think they lose more than “a day’s work”. Not to mention that most weddings are on weekends, so its not like he can just say ‘ok, i didn’t work this saturday, but i will be doing another wedding on wednesday”.
That being said, i understand your concerns. My photog required the final payment 24 or 48 hours before and i actually paid her about 3 weeks early because i wanted to get as many payments as possible out of the way and i guess i trusted her completely. I mean she was going to Jamaica for 2 weddings, staying at my resort, and her trip was paid for by the other bride. And her husband DJ was also being paid to work at both weddings! So i was not worried about her not showing up! I even paid her husband like a week before the full amount because he required it (I booked him last minute as well).
So basically my advice would just be to find someone you get a good feeling from that you trust will be there and maybe even tell them your concerns and see what can be worked out. They probably want to show up and start taking pics of you right away, not deal with getting paid?
Post # 10
@Rock Hugger: This is a great question and absolutely worth explaining from the perspective of a wedding photographer (or any other wedding vendor).
A contract exists between you to protect both your interests. Most photographers will not take payment the day of the wedding for a number of reasons:
– We don’t want to deal with/ask for money on the wedding day when we need to be concentrating on shooting. I’ve had couples pay me with a stack of cash and I had to worry about where it was all night. That’s distracting and it was awkward to stop the couple in the middle of their conversation with a guest to ask for money.
– Sometimes couples run out of money by the wedding day and can’t pay us, so then we’re essentially performing a service we haven’t been paid for. Requiring payment at least 2 weeks (many require it 30 days before) avoids this issue because a payment has time to clear in advance of the wedding day. If we have to spend weeks after the wedding chasing down a payment we don’t start work on your photos and it backs up our entire workflow. Some say “well if they never paid they just don’t get their wedding photos!” That’s true, but we already spent the day shooting a wedding for half our fee when we could have shot another wedding with clients who paid us in full. That’s not smart business.
– Wedding days are hectic – what happens if you or a parent who’s writing the check forgets or misplaces their checkbook? What if they have one check left but need to pay 3 vendors the day of? Who gets paid? These are awkward situations for everyone and no one wants to deal with that.
Paying in full up front is standard in the photography industry and with most other vendors. You pay a deposit/retainer to reserve that date, to have that photographer take the date off their calendar and turn down every subsequent inquiry for that date. You pay the full amount for the photographers time and effort and the 40-60 hrs of work they’ll be putting into processing your photos after the wedding. Photographers who don’t do this probably haven’t been burned yet, but when they do get burned their policies will change.
You don’t question paying in full for a venue before the wedding day. What if it burns down? What if it floods? These are unlikely crazy circumstances and they’re about as unlikely as your photographer not showing up but they do happen, and in those cases you’re protected by your contract with a full refund. You pay for a concert ticket in full upfront months in advance – what if the show is cancelled? You make sure that the refund policy allows you to get your money back if that happens. Why should it be any different for wedding photographers?
Post # 11
We did half on booking, and the final payment 30 days out. I love our photographer, so I’m very comfortable with the situation.
Post # 12
definitely second everything @BeeM said. i require 1 month in advance. It’s awkward to deal with money on the day of when I should be working and you (the bride) should be enjoying yourself!
Post # 13
@BeeM – thank you for the vendor perspective! But just to address your last paragraph – I am not paying my venue until the day of. Same with DJ. It is only the photographers who are asking for money in advance. Hence why I am questioning it.
And I don’t think it is fair to compare paying for a photographer and paying for a concert ticket. The hypothetical concert ticket costs me $60, and the photogs cost $$$$$$. If the show is cancelled and I don’t get my money back, it sucks but whatev…the loss is easily absorbed into my budget. The photographer is costing me 20% of my wedding budget – not something I could easily write off.
EDIT – I get it that a photographer should be concentrating on the bride and groom on the wedding day….but how hard is it to show up 30 min early, get together with my DOC and get paid? I don’t mean to sound flippant, but every once in a while I will do a teaching demonstration where I get paid for the day. I don’t get paid in advance. If I am suposed to start at 2PM, I get to the event at 1PM so I can set up and get my check. Or I plan on staying afterwards to collect my fee. Again….I do have DOC, who will be there till the end of the evening.
Post # 14
@Rock Hugger: That might be the case in your situation, but many vendors require upfront payments, and not all couples have DOCs. Your photographer is the only vendor who continues work for you after your wedding while you’re away on the honeymoon, so it’s important that everything has cleared before the wedding date as it can be impossible to get in touch and get payment if you’re out of town/out of the country. If I don’t get paid, I don’t touch the photos because why would I be working without knowing if I’ll ever get paid for it? I’ve heard photog horror stories about it taking 3 months to get a final payment from a client, which means they had to start working on that wedding 3 months later when they should be working on other folks’ photos. The policy is there to protect the client and the photographer. What you really need to concern yourself with is the part of the contract that explains what happens if the photographer doesn’t show. My contract says that in the unlikely circumstance that I am not able to be there I will find an equal or better photographer to replace me subject to client approval. If I cannot find someone the client receives a refund for the entire amount paid. That should alleviate your concerns about getting money back if your photographer doesn’t show. But please feel good about the fact that the chances of that happening are very, very small. Not showing is wedding photog suicide – it’s in our best interest to show or if something happens, find someone even better than us to replace us.
It’s happened to photographers that a couple separates shortly after the wedding and a check bounces and the couple obviously doesn’t want to pay for the photos anymore. Some couples actually go bankrupt and then we can’t get paid at all for work we already did. These are rare circumstances but we have to protect ourselves and our businesses and be fair – if we require it for all our other clients but waive it for you that could come back to haunt us when a referral says “but you didn’t make them pay upfront”. I’ve turned down weddings over issues with this policy – I’ve been burned and it’s just not something I’m willing to risk, especially when I can just as easily book a client that day who has no problem with my policies. I’m more likely to tell a client we’re not a good fit than budge on something like that that puts me at risk.
Post # 15
BeeM is correct. Another reason to hire a reputable vendor, so you have no reason to believe this would even be a possibility.
Post # 16
@Rock Hugger: This is a great question, from the perspective of a wedding photographer: Payment during the day of the wedding is somewhat distracting especially when a stack of cash is handed to you. But overall it’s not a big deal. With my clients I request 25% to book, 65% prior to or day of and the remaining 10% when I provide the client with the items agreed on during booking. I have never had an issue with payment, and have had couples pay in full a few times. Ultimately I always try to help the couple out and most photographers will if you just ask. Hope this helps. Good luck.