Bride doesn't want to pay

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by henry_martin, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I need some advice. I am scheduled to film a wedding on Saturday, November 5. Bride first contacted me on July 27. She then disappeared and contacted me on August 22 to confirm booking. This was when I emailed her my first invoice for 50% retainer. The email also stated that final payment was due 15 days before the wedding.
    She disappeared for another month and then contacted me again on September 22 after which I emailed her an amended invoice. I received an inquiry for her wedding date from another bride so I contacted her informing her about the other inquiry. She asked me to please keep the date for her. She only paid the retainer October 4. I confirmed her booking same day.
    Her final payment was due October 21. When I emailed her my final invoice on October 15, she responded by asking me to attend the wedding ceremony rehearsal on Thursday, November 3. I confirmed I would. I emailed her on October 27 reminding her about final payment to which she replied there was no invoice attached. I emailed her my invoice again stating that I had sent her the original on October 15.
    She sent me a message on my cellphone yesterday morning saying she was waiting on the photographer's invoice and would pay both of us on the same day. I responded that her payment was due October 21 and politely stated that her arrangement with the photographer has got nothing to do with me. We have our own agreement in place. She has not responded.
    This is the first time this has happened to me and I don't know what to do. Do I attend the rehearsal? Do I go ahead and film the wedding. I also have to pay my assistant. It's so difficult getting payment before the wedding. I know I'm going to have a major mission trying to get her to pay after the event.
    Thank you for responding. Henry.
  2. Hmm. The disappearing bride. Very frustrating for the groom. Must be some magic involved or do you simply mean that you did not hear from her?
    Joking aside, you were in contact with her primarily in writing (mail/SMS). Why don't you call her and explain yoour situation and hear what she has to say? It's up to you to be lenient with regard to the contact/payment - or not.
  3. True Jos - It's up to me to be lenient or not and I'm probably going to be too lenient.
  4. You're going to get screwed on this and no matter how much 'profit' you think you'll make, it'll be lost in trying to get her to pay.
    If this was me, I'd send her an overnight Fedex w/ invoice and clearly state that you'll be at the rehersal and all payment must be made then and there in cash or certified check or since she has not lived up to her contractual obligation, you will not be there on the 5th. This woman needs to understand you're not just some flunkie. You're running a business, not a charity or payday loan biz.
  5. She paid the 50% retainer right? So she has retained your services for the day.
    I think it's easy. Go a head and shoot the wedding. Don't do anything beyond that until you have the rest of the 50%.
    I assume you have a bunch of editing to do after the wedding. When she pays the last 50% you can proceed with editing and delivering. If against all odds she doesn't pay, she doesn't get anything and you don't have to do the editing either.
  6. Another example of the devaluation of photography. With all the "expert" pictures and video you can make with an eye phone, only the rich and affluent are willing to pay for professional services. Buyer's remorse sets in almost as soon as the ink is dry on the contract.
    Even if you shoot the wedding and withhold everything until she pays, there'll be a hundred phone vids for her to choose from. If you never deliver she'll still have her video. I can't see how you're going to win this one except to simply state that since she has not paid as agreed, you are unable to shoot her wedding. Might even mention that you can't pay an assistant when you don't have money to pay.
  7. Patrick is correct. The bride is not concerned about losing your services and has been stringing you along from the beginning. What I don't understand is why you held the date for her when bride No. 2 came along asking for the same date.
  8. I would still attend and film, but make it very clear to the bride that you cannot edit or deliver until the final payment (I'd add a late fee at this point if applicable). Otherwise you'll have a bigger pickle later when you don't show and she expected it.
    Budgeting might not be her strong suit and maybe she has to still earn the $$ to be able to pay? She might feel embarrassed about that too.
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Do I attend the rehearsal?
    You've stated that you committed to attend. I don't think that is your choice to make, now; that is a choice which you have already made.
    Do I go ahead and film the wedding?
    You've stated that she has paid a "retainer". One can only assume that legally binds you to perform your services on the date for which you have been retained. Again I don't think that is a choice that you can make now, because that choice you have already made.
    I also have to pay my assistant.
    You've posed this as a business question, as a business answer that is neither the Bride's fault nor her issue. However, as a separate issue, if your business has a structure such that the cash flow cannot afford to pay employees on time, then the business structure needs to be amended.
    It's so difficult getting payment before the wedding.
    If that is a general comment, then again the business structure needs addressing. Bluntly put, on the face of what has been written, it was a poor business choice NOT to engage the other Bride for Nov. 5th, especially considering that we must assume she had the retainer and the final payment ready to go.
    It appears this issue would not exist if you had stuck to your original business structure and as the retainer for the 5th November was not paid by the due date, you simply accepted that date for the other Bride and subsequently took her retainer and final payment.
    Irrespective of whether this Bride does make the final payment or not, I agree that you will most likely be in a bigger pickle if you do not attend the Rehearsal and also the Wedding and complete the services for which you have been "retained". Noted that the meaning of "retainer", will vary between jurisdictions.
    I know I'm going to have a major mission trying to get her to pay after the event. . . It's up to me to be lenient or not and I'm probably going to be too lenient.
    Probably yes, it will be difficult getting the money out of her after the event, so you have to do your best to get it now. But I think the main lesson to learn is: you missed the opportunity to “get tough”, earlier.
    Please keep us informed of the outcomes
  10. I think a lot depends on the wording of the contract, William W. If it states that full payment is due before the wedding date, the bride is the one in breach of contract when the wedding day comes and payment has not been received.
    If I were the OP, I wouldn't leave it up to chance. I'd be blunt - recount all the attempts you've made to collect payment, her responses, and tell her exactly what the consequences will be (such as, you will not attend and shoot her wedding, for instance) if she doesn't pay. That way you and she are both on the same page. You could send her a link to pay you via Paypal right in the email, to "assist" her since she keeps losing invoices.
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I agree that a lot of the "legality" of the situation depends upon the wording of the contract, Patrick.
    But I also agree that I would not leave anything "up to chance", so, if we carry on that line of thinking . . . I think it still leads us to a best "business" (not legal) choice --- is to turn up to both the rehearsal and the wedding and complete the videoing of the wedding.
    Doing so alleviates much of the 'chance' concerning other issues, perhaps more time and money consuming to the business, which could be initiated by the bride if Henry does not arrive and does not video the event.
    The point is: the best business choice might not always be the "I am in the right and legally I can do this" choice.
    I also agree that I would be absolutely blunt and I would vigorously seek to get full payment before the Wedding Day - but as Plan B, and without the final payment, I would still turn up and perform. I also agree to document everything, that's juts good business procedure and is expected anyway.
    I appreciate that there is the possibility of never being paid, but there is more possibility of being paid having a product to transact: if there is no product, then there is very little chance of being paid at all, perhaps only a slim hope of litigating for it.
    I think when the any business gets into a pickle it is difficult for the owner of the business t make unemotional choices: there is always the possibility of the best business choice being clouded by a 'get even' or 'I am n the right' human emotion.
  12. Thank you Jos, Howard, Pete, Patrick, David, Adrienne and William. Much appreciated.

    I also have to pay my assistant.
    I only mentioned this because it's an expense I have on the day.

    It's so difficult getting payment before the wedding.
    No, it's not a general comment.
    My bad wording. I was referring to this bride. It has been difficult getting payment from her from the beginning.

    Bluntly put, on the face of what has been written, it was a poor business choice NOT to engage the other Bride for Nov. 5th, especially considering that we must assume she had the retainer and the final payment ready to go.
    Absolutely correct William. My mistake.

    What transpired yesterday: I called the bride and informed her that I will be at the rehearsal but all payment must be made by Thursday at the rehearsal, in cash. I told her she has handled this account very badly and has not honored her contract with me.
    I told her I will not be filming her wedding on Saturday if she does not meet my payment deadline.
    I also emailed the same to her so I have it on record.

    Bride called me in the evening and informed me her father would be settling payment on Wednesday, November 2.

    Will keep you informed.
  13. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Mistakes are only "MY mistakes" - if you do them twice - the first one is a payed learning experience.
    That was a forceful approach you took with the Bride - I hope it pays off - from the way you write, I think it will.
    Good luck.
  14. Thanks William.
    I received payment so all good now.
    I had to get tough.
    Lesson learned.
    I'll know what to do if this happens again.
  15. Sorry, I am in a MAJOR disagreement with most of the posts regarding this topic. At least for the moment. My views could change shortly if the photographer does what I would suggest -

    PHONES are really a wonderful thing. Do you have one, or do you just own a computer? Are you afraid to shoot
    weddings? Some people are. It's OK to hate the wedding business. Just one bad wedding can lead to a major lawsuit.

    Sorry, but after doing 1500 weddings, probably much more, this seems like a silly post. Stop playing games and CALL her,
    unless you don't want to do the wedding, and in this case just give them back their money and move on, have a nice
    BBQ that day, a few beers some friends over, and forget about the wedding. If you don't have her number have a new contract made up by a contract lawyer, not out of some sort of book or off the internet.

    Yes I'm joking here with some of my statements, but not about the phone. I think it's VERY rude on both parties, you and her
    to avoid the use of a phone conversation.

    I don't understand this type of logic, so I am gong to put you on the spot here and ask you why you refuse to call her.

    I look forward to your answer and I hope things work out for the very best.

    Being in the business for so long, 1988, my guess, even before calling her, is she doesn't have the cash so she is ignoring your emails. Be ready to offer another solution. Such as you will show up and do the wedding and when you get paid they get the images. It may take a month or 2 but one day you will get paid. And no they can't see the images before they pay you. You can tease them and show them a few, but that's it.

    For the record, I don't shoot anymore, but I never lost a wedding because of this type of situation. This situation is so easy to fix, the question is do you want to fix it or walk away?
  16. I just read a post above. I was right it was money related! You were worried over something so simple. The bride used the

    Always call the bride a month before the wedding then a week later, then another week later and the day before ask her if
    she is doing anything exciting tomorrow! This lets the bride know that you really care about her special day and you are
    there to solve issues. You are NOT there just to get paid, you are there as a gifted pro and also as a friend she can trust
    and confide in. This is why she hired you.

    Good job - Keep up the calls. Act professional, be her friend. Bob

    I was never very good at typing, forgive the typing errors.
  17. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for responding.
    The bride and I were in contact over the phone quite a few times since July. We were in contact by phone up to Wednesday.
    In fact everything was agreed by phone.
    I just confirmed everything in writing by email for the record - sending her the invoices, confirming booking and informing her that payment was due.
    Yes, money was the issue - she wasn't willing to part with it.
    I went to the wedding rehearsal yesterday and discovered she was driving a BMW M series.
  18. Way to go, good business practices. Keep up the greeat work. Hope you enjoyed my sick humor!
  19. Thanks Bob. I did.
  20. I went to the wedding rehearsal yesterday and discovered she was driving a BMW M series.​
    That certainly sounds suspicious, but it isn't so obvious. You didn't seem to ask if she had money problems. It might be that someone was supposed to pay her for something, and she couldn't pay you until that time. (Of course, she should have said so, if that was true.)

    It might be that her father was supposed to pay from the beginning, and hadn't yet paid her. It might also be that he bought her the BMW, maybe as a wedding present. (Not that I would buy one for my daughter, but some people do.)
  21. Hi Glen.
    Thanks for responding.
    No, I really wouldn't ask any of my brides / couples if they had money problems.
    I did ask her sister who said it was the bride's car and she had purchased it about a year ago.
    Groom's vehicle is a Land Rover.
    Funny enough, I filmed a 16th birthday party two years ago where the girl's father gave her a Mercedes as a gift.
  22. Does not have the money because of the high monthly payments on the BMW.
  23. That might be the case Joe.
  24. I filmed a 16th birthday party two years ago where the girl's father gave her a Mercedes as a gift.​
    For about two seconds, I had read this wrong: that the gift was to you.

    What I was thinking above, though, is that some might need financing terms. In that case, you could either do it yourself, or through a bank.
  25. Hi Glen,
    If a client books me 6 months to a year in advance, they have the option of 4 payments split equally over that period.
    When this bride contacted first contacted me in July, I gave her the option of 4 monthly payments from July to October. Then it became three payments and finally two.

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