Tough Times for Wedding Plans
Well this is a difficult time for everyone in the wedding industry. Thousands upon thousands of weddings have been canceled and postponed. We understand it is extremely difficult to delay your wedding, an event you’ve likely been actively planning for over a year and no doubt dreaming about for much longer than that. That alone takes a huge emotional toll. Now tack on the stress and struggle of navigating the rescheduling process with your vendors and likely now competing for dates with the other thousands of couples also struggling to get it together. Add to that the fact that there’s a strong chance you are on the hook for thousands of dollars which begs the question: Should I get my wedding photography deposit back due to covid 19?
This is a perfectly valid question and natural first step. First let me disclaim.
- We are discussing wedding photography deposits, or retainers, specifically. While many contractual agreements in the wedding business are very similar, and some of this information may also apply to other vendors, we are photographers and will focus on that.
- We are not lawyers. The intent of this information is to help you navigate your relationship with your wedding photographer. It is not to be used as legal counsel. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.
- We’re on everyone’s side. This is not a guide to get your money back at all costs. It should be your goal to work with your photographer, and vice versa, to come to an agreement that helps everyone. More on this later.
- Ask your photographer if they recommend other photographers you could work with. While this doesn’t lessen the financial burden, it can be a good place to start looking that offers more peace of mind than a random google search.
Should I Get My Wedding Photography Deposit Back Due to Covid 19?
There is no clear cut answer here. It is in fact a case by case basis and depends largely on the contract you have with your photographer. The first thing you should do is look at your contract and pay special attention to the deposit, or retainer, clauses. Our contract states that the retainer is non-refundable for any reason once it has been paid. This is non-negotiable and it absolutely has to be that way. Otherwise, photographers would hold a date and miss potential business without any guarantee that the couple will not cancel.
Now I hear you; “How could I see a global pandemic coming to destroy my entire wedding?” ; “These are unprecedented times!”
The answer is you couldn’t and also, yes and no. Yes we’ve never seen a global pandemic like this before, and no this situation of a crisis changing or cancelling plans is not unprecedented. Check in your contract for a Force Majeure Clause. This is referring to any “Act of God” deterring the photographer from being able to fulfill their contractual duties. It protects us in the case that something wild and out of our control, say, a global pandemic, keeps us from being able to photograph your wedding. It also means that we are not obligated to return the retainer, or non-refundable deposit.
I know these sound harsh and unfair to those of you who are struggling to replan a wedding and are also trying to get as much money back as you can.
So to answer another question straight up. Legally, CAN you get your wedding photography deposit back? If you have a professional photographer and have signed a contract with those clauses, the answer is no. But SHOULD your photographer have sympathy and give you all your money back? Also, no. Please, let me explain myself.
Wedding Photographers Are Struggling
The reason photographers have a force majeure clause is to protect ourselves in the one in a million chance that wild things like this happen. It is easy to look at your photographers as a business and forget that there are people just like you behind it trying to pay bills. Most of which are now completely out of work and your deposit has long been spent as a last resource. So where does this leave you? We’re telling you there’s no way many would be able to give you any money back. However, we are absolutely not without empathy. We know that many of you are financially affected as much and more than wedding photographers in this time.
The solution, while maybe not easy, is simple. Client have to understand that photographers are not a multimillion dollar business and are counting on that deposit to weather this storm. Photographers absolutely must, at all costs, do whatever it takes to serve the client well and be empathetic to the clients’ needs. There are many ways we can work together to preserve our relationships. Here are my suggestions.
- Do whatever you can to reschedule and retain the same photographer.
- If you are unable to retain the photographer, request that they return your deposit if they can.
- If they can’t, ask them about other ways they may be able to work with you to lessen the burden. The photographer may be willing to work out services they can offer, such as boudoir, day after shoots, and in home sessions, in place of the wedding for a similar value as the retainer cost.
This Is Hard
We know all of this is difficult. This pandemic is absolutely bananas and everyone is forced into situations they would not wish on their enemies. The only way we can get through this is to be kind and candid and do what we can to work together. Photographers, do what you can to ease the burden on your clients. Clients, be mindful that photographers are on your side and want to help.
How We’re Trying To Help
Again, we know this is challenging for both sides. Clients, you need money back. Photographers, you need to not give money back. So we’re hoping to ease the burden for everyone. We want to be helpful to all clients who are unable to get a refund on their deposit. We also want to be a resource for photographers to be able to confidently keep their deposits without guilt.
To that end, if your photographer is unable to refund you the deposit AND if you are unable to reschedule with your photographer, we are offering that the amount, up to $1500, off of our wedding packages if you book with us. For example, if fall into the category above and you paid a retainer of $1500 or less, we’ll take that off of the price of our service for a wedding. Everybody wins.
We hope this helps! Love you all.
Kallan and Dustin | Fawn & Fellow