Bride Refusing to Pay - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by reneereynolds, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. I had recently posted a question about resolving a billing issue with a bride attempting to subtract my normal bridal session fee from the contract total because she could not have her dress altered in time. The session was part of a bridal show season promotion offering a complimentary bridal session with the purchase of an upper echelon package. The original post can be found here: Original Post. After getting all the feedback, I sent the bride a registered letter explaining why the deduction could not be made, offered multiple possibilities including a last-minute session closer to the wedding date (Sept 27th) or a pre-wedding session for those shots, and stated that payment was required within seven days. 10 days later, no payment. My contract states, "No photography will take place until payment is made in full". I guess I need some feedback as to what my options are. I haven't been paid, and despite the fact that my contract contains the necessary clause, I have a feeling that there are holes, and I would like to know where to go from here. I have photographed more than 500 weddings over the past 15 years and I have never encountered a bride who didn't pay her balance...fortunate I know, but I have no clue how to handle this without 1, alienating the bride and any referrals that might have resulted (although I'm not sure I would want them at this point), or opening myself up to legal problems. Help please?
     
  2. Have you tried calling her?
     
  3. I have...I have left two messages and she will not return my call.
     
  4. Give up. You can't win them all.

    With a 500 wedding/15 year history that you state, you have had a great run if this is your first serious payment issue.
     
  5. No payment=no photography!!!! She signed the contract and agreed to the terms. Yes, you may have a disgruntled bride afterwards who may not provide the best referrals but it's your business and you should not let the bride dictate the terms. Call her and let her know where you stand. If sh continues to resist, remind her that she agreed to full payment or no photography will take place. With only a couple of weeks ubtil the wedding, she will be hard pressed to find another photographer so this may be to your advantage. If she threatens legal action, you have a signed contract that she has to battle with. Best of luck!!
     
  6. My suggestion is to send her a registered letter explaining the point in your contract (that she signed) explaining that if she doesn't pay, she looses her photographer and her deposit....
     
  7. Renee:

    I'm assuming that you have all but a small percent of your normal fee?

    Shoot the wedding. But don't release any pictures until paid in full. In fact, I would put the images in a
    safe place and not even work on them until payment is received, and I would let her know this.

    At the point in time when she chooses to continue to honor the contract, you can, too. :)


    Eric
     
  8. If you aren't sure about your contract or what you can or can't do legally, talk to your attorney.
     
  9. I'm not sure referals from this person are worth much to you in any event. We don't know how solid you contract is.
    Even if your canellation clause is in good order, it may be dependant on your language about the service. While most
    responding to your previous post felt that naming a service in the contract "comlimentary" automatically means it is a
    unenforcable freebie, I can see a legal argument that says that complimentary means the deal was sweetened with
    extra services that were incorporated in to the overall bargain. Of course a counter argument is that the even if that is
    true, the dress not being ready does not excuse or negate the obligation of client. Then there will be the impossibility
    defense due to the dress not being ready which will be rebutted with the fact that the dress will be ready eventually
    which will itself be rebutted by the frustration of purpose defense claim that the whole point of the portrait is that it be
    done well prior to the wedding, which will be countered by the argument that the portrait has value even after a
    wedding. A potential vicious cycle on that and other fronts is forseeable..

    Is there a shorter answer? The good news is that there may be. The bad news is that the question is a contract
    (legal) matter, not a photography issue. The only sound advice at this point is to consult with an attorney in your
    jurisdiction quickly. A half hour of time can and generally is much cheaper than a legal claim of breaching a wedding
    contract.

    In the meantime, Tim's question seems valid in that it may provide useful infornmation.

    As to next time... reconsider offering and writing in to contracts so called complimentary services. If offfering
    incentives, just make it part of the deal and tighten up the contract to maximize the client's obligations despite things
    that arise even beyond their control. Use a lawyer for that too as some such provisions could be legally unenforcable.
     
  10. The contract is the governing document in your relationship and I think you need to stick to it. It pays to be careful when handling a situation like this. If I were you I would have an attorney review the contract for "holes" just to make sure you have followed every step required and that you are justified in not shooting the wedding based on her non-payment. I might even have the attorney draft a letter explaining the breach of contract. You could, I would imagine, offer her one last opportunity to remedy the breach prior to the wedding. Otherwise, don't shoot the wedding.

    I think protecting your 15+ year business and reputation is worth the attorney's fee.

    My $0.02
     
  11. Well then prom my standpoint. I am assuming that you have a retainer fee and a stipulation in the contract regarding what happens to that retainer under different circumstances. You have already tried contacting her and can prove it. I would let her make the next move. I hate to say it but at this point if she is refusing to pay for the photography services she contracted and wont select a lesser package then she is still due to pay. Come the wedding day If I was not paid the balance I wouldnt show. Since you have a retainer you have to hold the date but you are not required to show unless the other party has perfrmed thier part of the contract (paying you). If she paid more than the retainer then refund her any overpayment other then the retainer as your contract states. When she's pissed off that she cant remember her wedding day other than uncle bobs piss poor photo's, it's nobodys fault but hers. PersonallyI am too busy and dont have time for people like this. A well written contract will take care of this problem for you.

    I think they said it best in Frosty the Snowman "NO MONEY...NO TICKET!"

    My 2 cents
     
  12. Here is how our 2 studios, soon to be 3 studios work. Without a contract we don't work. It's that simple.

    Contracts can be re-written, but since the bride doesn't return your calls well I'd say she is looking or has hired someone else. I just did an event for Playboy and there were 2 contracts written, one for Playboy and one for me, so I don't have any problems with more then 1 contract, so if this bride wants to write her own contract let or ask her to do it. Then you can accept it or not!

    Whatever you do, don't shoot the wedding until something has been signed.
     
  13. Sometimes, ya' gotta' fire the customer, However, I'd have an attorney review the documents first......
     
  14. If she doesn't want to do the bridal session per se, you could convert the time and work you'd have spent on it into some other kind of family photo session, to be done after the wedding. Heck, there's really no reason she couldn't do a bridal session AFTER the wedding unless her dress gets ruined somehow (it would be the same work/expense for her, whether before or after, and she would still have the bridal photos). I'd go ahead and shoot the wedding, but retain her pics until you're paid per your contract terms. She's obviously trying to save some expense, or trying to get over on you somehow, but that isn't going to work for her. If your contract is worded properly, you're covered.
     
  15. I'm not sure if you took a deposit or not, but I would send one last certified/registered letter saying basically that if you don't
    receive payment by (date), you will have to release her as a client and you will be keeping the deposit. I would also call
    with the same information. Although, I do like Eric M's suggestion too.
     
  16. I don't think you should shoot the wedding and hold the images hostage. You are just asking for more headaches. If you can, walk away.
     
  17. Maybe she just doesn't have the money right this second. You need to relax and just wait until you talk to her. There might be a good reason why she has not paid yet. I suggest you keep trying to reach her and if you can't show up the day of the wedding and do the job you were hired for. She might have the money for the day of the wedding if she doesn't who cares. You will still have all the pictures and can hold on to them until she pays. Your other choice would be to listen to all the other posts and do what your contracts states "no payment / no photography". That way the bride and take you to court and even if she loses I bet she will have no problem making sure everyone she knows is aware that you didn't show the day of the wedding and that you ruined everything.

    ( Of course she will leave out that she never paid you, but that wont matter then and you wont be there put in side of the story - so suck it up and shoot the wedding. You still will hold all the pictures after the wedding until payment is made. )
     
  18. Have you contacted the groom? Maybe he can reason with her. Maybe her parents (they usually pay
    anyway) will do so.

    Also, if you don't show, she will bad mouth you all over the place. A letter from an attorney will most
    likely silence her.

    FWIW, she may have a "relative" who "takes good pictures" and she sees a way to get them done on
    the cheap. She will get what she pays for.
     
  19. The point is, there is a signed contract stating that the bride will pay in exchange for services...she hasn't paid when she agreed to, which means that she has broken her side of the contract. Plain and simple.

    This isn't a "oh just be nice for a free referall", it's business... how is wedding photography any different than any other work-for-hire? If a contract is signed, an agreement has been made. Her referall is worth nothing considering her attitude towards the signed document and the agreed amount. She is blatently trying to modify the contract to her terms, and I honestly would not let her run with it. If it were me, she would have to cough up the rest of the money or she is going to lose her wedding photographer and her retainer.
     
  20. I totally agree with David. Know one else works for free, so why should you, I’m sure she gets paid for her work.
    You did everything you could do to contact her, there isn’t really much more you can do. So keep the money she
    gave you, and enjoy the day off.
     
  21. "Also, if you don't show, she will bad mouth you all over the place. A letter from an attorney will most likely silence
    her."

    Both will inspire negative comments. If the bride has the ability to hire a new photographer with whatever refund is
    due, the backlash will probably be limited. The letter will ensure negative backlash no matter what and any shoot
    going forward will be miserable at best. Complaints after the fact will ensue on so on.



    "The point is, there is a signed contract stating that the bride will pay in exchange for services...she hasn't paid when
    she agreed to, which means that she has broken her side of the contract. Plain and simple."

    I tend to agree. The complementary service really isn't complimentary when the photographer agrees to provide it as
    part of the contract. It is part of the whole package. The photographer is bound to provide the service, the client is
    obligated to pay for the package. As to contrctual defenses previously mentioned, they should not be ruled out
    although they are weak because the service can still be provided without the same dress, later on or provided in
    some substantially similar and valued way.

    The problem is that we don't know if the contract is rock solid as to cancellation and refund issues. Renee needs to
    consult with an attorney to determine that. If it were me and the contract in necessary order, I would send back any
    refund due with notice saying that the wedding shoot will not go forward. The client will just cause more trouble later
    making up more justification to lower the fee after the fact.
     
  22. I'm no wedding photographer but I would be wary of doing the shoot and holding the photos hostage as some seem to
    suggest. No matter how right you are that sounds like it could turn into a bit of a PR nightmare. I'd go with
    the suggestions to have a lawyer look over the contract and situation and go from there. If you can end the deal
    and walk away that sounds like the best result for you and the customer.
     
  23. She's refusing to deal with you. Any bride on the verge of her wedding day, as this one is, is certainly
    communicating with her vendors in a somewhat timely fashion, typically in a favorable mood! You haven't been paid
    you said, and so she's not invested in you, and it looks like she's moved on.

    You obviously can't refund something that was given as a comp (that's why coupons for freebies say things in
    small print such as "no redeemable value"), you did offer alternative options, and she's refused to accept them
    or even counter-offer. She just goes ahead and pulls surprises. Then she disappears. Not really the mature way to
    conduct business.

    So you must move on as well. Send her a registered, return receipt letter documenting succinctly (without
    lecturing! "Just the facts, ma'am!") that you did
    offer options
    although the session was complimentary, and the payment due date for the contract has come and gone without
    receipt of payment, and despite your repeated attempts to contact her, she hasn't communicated with you, so you
    have no choice but to see this as her breach of contract and therefore will not be performing your part at the
    wedding.

    In this way, you let her know that she's the one unlawfully terminating the contract, not you, and you're also
    protecting yourself from the possibility that she turns around after the event and alleges that she expected you
    to show and then sues you for alleged damages. You've also documented everything step by step in this letter in
    the event you need to offer it as proof. I'm not an attorney, and this isn't legal advice. It's just that
    you have a bad situation at hand and you want to protect yourself from it getting possibly worse.

    Sorry you're going through this, but that's what makes life so interesting. There's all types of people out
    there, and sometimes, they get married.
     
  24. No one is saying that the wedding should be shot for free. The fact they have a signed contract I'm sure that means
    there was a deposit paid or a retainer and I'm sure it was for at least half of the total. So you have half of her money
    and haven't done anything yet. That alone should at least give you a reason to talk to her and the groom. Find out
    what the problem is and what you can do to help. The wedding photographer is not the only thing that she needs to
    pay for at the wedding. She could be running low on cash and is embarrassed to say anything. The point is you do
    not know, God forbid you give her break and let her pay the day of the wedding or workout something else to help
    her. I think you would be allot better off being open and help her out if she needs it rather than some jerk who could
    careless about the problem or the reason and just wants the money.
     
  25. Be patient, going back to your original post this sounds like a problem that could have been taken care of with a polite talk
    over the phone. Keep trying to talk with her calm things down some. I had a similar problem with something I tossed in a
    contract for free. Deal with her on friendly terms.

    BTW I no longer put any freebies in the contract. If I want to give someone something it is a gift and is not in the contract.
     
  26. There is no indicia that someone "needs" a break or extra time here. According to the information given, communications have been ignored, lame assertions made, no one has asked for leniency and so on. There is no evidence that any one is struggling, and there is plenty showing that there is game playing. The responses here have been positive about providing equivilent or like services and making reasonable accomodations.
     
  27. Tyler said... "give her break and let her pay the day of the wedding or workout something else to help her."

    Did you read the part about the bride refusing to return phone calls? How exactly do you propose the
    photographer be "open and help [the bride]" if the bride won't talk to her?

    "All you greedy photographers you don't seem to care about anything but the money."

    This is just condescending. What do you think puts food on a photographers table? I'll give you a hint, it's
    green and smells like money. This job could be a weeks worth of income for the photographer. What would you do
    if you showed up at work and they had decided to "let you work for free for a week?"

    Having a photographer at a wedding is a luxury, not a necessity. If they can't afford it they should be up front
    and honest instead of trying to steal it.
     
  28. Tyler, I have to say something, Usually I just read and learn..

    I won't comment on the legalities. I wouldn't show up and take pictures in hope of her paying. Renee HAS tried to talk to the bride, he has left two messages. How many messages does he(she?) have to leave? The fact is the bride is the one not talking or returning the calls. Renee is trying to be helpful and certainly accommodating.

    So what if the bride is running low on cash? So what if she is embarassed? Since she is getting married it's time to grow up and face reality.

    I'll agree, the Photographer is not the only thing that has to paid. I'll bet the caterer is paid in full and nobody has eaten yet. I'll bet the fancy limos are paid for and nobody has been driven anywhere yet. I'll bet the dress is paid for. I'll bet the brides maid dresses are paid for and so on. Why should we as photographers not be paid for beforehand as well? Just because it's her "special" day photographers should just "give her a break"? She knew what the costs of the wedding are and if she couldn't afford it then she should have cut something out of her plans.

    Sure, when she returns the calls and deals with the issue, I'll give her a break if warranted. If she actually returns Renees' call's and says I'll have the money for you at the wedding say "Ok, but it will have to be cash". Then show up as arranged if she doesn't have the money, go home and spend the day with your family. (The day before would be better and more logical as the wedding is most likely on a weekend and if she has the cash then she will certainly have gotten it the day before as there is no way she will be heading to the bank in here wedding dress dress. That also makes it easier to walk away)

    You bet I care about the money. That's how I feed my kids and wife. Has nothing to do with greed and has everything to do with business and paying what is owed. It's called being a professional.

    You bet, I've needed plenty of breaks from people and bills in my life and you know what? I get them because I take responsibility and talk to the other party and then live up to my end.

    Renee has given her plenty of breaks

    The only person that would be better off if they follow what you suggest is the bride. Renee will still be out the time and money. I will also wager there will be no end to the "problems" she (the bride) will have with the final photos as well.

    I'm with John H., I wouldn't take much stock in any references from this person. In fact, if I did get any I would probably think twice. Her friends are probably just like her. Sounds like you have plenty of work and references without hers anyways.

    I'm also with G.E.

    I would leave one last message (since she doesn't answer the phone or leave messages) followed with with a similar read receipt email and a double registered letter outlining my position. Every one of the them polite and business like and then react accordingly.

    There has to be a final clear cut resolving of this before the wedding. Either it's bought and paid for BEFORE the day or crystal clear notice that Renee won't be there so there is no misunderstanding on the brides part.

    Sorry Tyler not trying to be nasty. As someone said once or twice "It's not personnel, it's just business" :)

    Just my .0003 cents worth. :)
     
  29. "I no longer put any freebies in the contract. If I want to give someone something it is a gift and is not in the contract."

    Very sound. Once its in the contract, its not a freebie, its an obligation. It can be tailored to act like a freebie though. A contract can specify that there will be a free portrait shoot if the full payment is made by some specified date or something like that. Any good contract should spell out what happens in the event that some or all services are cancelled due to the fault of the photographer, the client or circumstances beyond anyone's control.
     
  30. Renee,

    Have you thought about filing a small claims suit against the Bride? I sure that there are books on Amazon.com that tell the individual how
    to file such a suit.

    After that, see if you can find an attorney who'll sell you 30 minutes of time to look over your case. This attorney should be able to tell you
    if you have a case or you don't have a case.
     
  31. I like this response, and if it were me....keeping in mind my total lack of experience, but knowing how much easier it is to be the "good guy" which I'm feeling you'd rather try and stay....this might be a good way to go...

    "Renee:

    I'm assuming that you have all but a small percent of your normal fee?

    Shoot the wedding. But don't release any pictures until paid in full. In fact, I would put the images in a safe place and not even work on them until payment is received, and I would let her know this.

    At the point in time when she chooses to continue to honor the contract, you can, too. :)

    Eric"
     
  32. You need to see an attorney. There may be a problem with your contract, or not.

    I assume that you got a deposit from the bride. If you did, and the bride doesn't make payment, I expect that you will keep the deposit. The problem is that keeping the deposit may be considered a forfeiture, or liquidated damages, depending on the law in your state.

    If it is a forfeiture, you could be required to pay it back. If it is liquidated damages, you can keep it. Ask a lawyer familiar with the law in your state.

    While you're there, have the lawyer add contract language making the deposit "liquidated damages". Then you'll be OK for next time.

    Tyler, because the photographer was tied up for that time frame by contract, he couldn't seek substitute employment. And that's the reason for him retaining the deposit. To compensate the photographer for a missed opportunity.
     
  33. Hi, What a bind!

    Okay, If you have not heard from her after making several attempts I'd say walk...but

    Make one last attempt to call and send a registered letter breaking down the full history of the Business relationship, including (if possible) times and dates of attempts to contact her. Also include in the letter a tactful, 'If your personal situation has changed please advise by return, this is important'. Heaven for bid but the whole thing could have blown up and the poor girl is sitting with an altered dress and no Groom!

    In any court in any land this will be recognised as acting above and beyond and showing understanding for a potential change in the clients needs, advertised to you or not as the case may be.

    I would end the letter with a statement to the effect, should you not hear from her and receive payment by return (Give her till end of the week...but do not say...return is just that!), you will be left with no other alternative but to rescind your obligation due to frustration of contract. (holes or no holes this should be water tight, especially despite giving her several opportunities to respond she has not!...but DO check with an Attorney!!) Also indicate that ( do not recall you saying) any Non-refundable deposit will be held back as per the contract (Again...check terms and fair contract issues). Refund the balance and state your extreme disappointment with the situation and that in your entire career as a Wedding Photog this is a first and you hope a last. (Do not under play your disappointment. this is lost business...good or Bad!) Also indicate that you waited a few days after the final communication in the hope you would hear from her...you're making yourself the good guy here!

    If you can (short notice granted) see if you can fill the date...otherwise enjoy the day off and be good to you and yours!

    Don't get emotional this is Business first and foremost...it's, hard cold move plus a let down and a minor blip in what sounds an exemplary track record. Move on, you have 500 good references and one possibly Bad one you can refute with ease...Not a worry!
     
  34. I'm not a professional photographer, but I spent 8½ years helping my parents manage their bridal salon. All of you
    who are wedding photographers know that the closer it gets to the wedding date the more irrational brides may
    become.

    I'll repeat the most accurate and sensible advice you've been offered -- see an attorney. The only thing I'll add to the
    advice is "immediately". It doesn't matter what anyone here thinks your result will or should be. Your agreement with
    the bride is governed by a contract that will be determined by the laws of your jurisdiction. Since none of us have
    seen the contract, none of us can give you sound legal advice.

    If you choose to act without consulting an attorney, you significantly increase your chances of being sued. If that
    happens, it won't matter if you are right or wrong, you'll still have to spend a lot of time and, unless your legal fees
    are covered by an insurance policy, a lot of money defending yourself. In any event, it will be unpleasant.

    Good luck. I hope this is resolved soon so that both of you can put it behind you.

    Joel

    [MODERATOR NOTE: Last name, location and title removed. Personal Information can be obtained by clicking on the full name of the poster.]
     
  35. " ...end the letter with a statement to the effect, should you not hear from her and receive payment by... ...you will be
    left with no other alternative but to rescind your obligation due to frustration of contract."

    Is this the best language? Talk of rescinding a obligation when the assertion is that there is no obligation to
    rescind in the first place suggests there may be one afterall. "Frustration" is a contract defense that is very
    undesirable to this situation. Go with the 'check with an attorney' part instead.

    "state your extreme disappointment with the situation and that in your entire career as a Wedding Photog this is a
    first and you hope a last."

    What business purpose is served by adding this lecturing language when it may only serve to agitate someone who
    may be undesirable to deal with? Less is often more in effective communication. Proper use of precious 'space" is
    important. Why should venting take a priority over language confirming relevent events that bolster the position of the
    service provider?

    I agree with the discussion about not taking thing personally and treating this as a business matter. Cost benefit
    analysis for each option is useful. Aggravation counts in such analysis but know it may come in different forms and
    places. What is best for the business should be afforded great weight.
     
  36. ""Also, if you don't show, she will bad mouth you all over the place. A letter from an attorney will most
    likely silence her."

    Both will inspire negative comments. If the bride has the ability to hire a new photographer with whatever
    refund is due, the backlash will probably be limited. The letter will ensure negative backlash no matter
    what and any shoot going forward will be miserable at best. Complaints after the fact will ensue on so
    on."
    --
    The letter may inspire negative backlash - which she (OP) will get no matter what. BTW, I have never
    heard someone who is contacted by an attorney mouth off that they were in the wrong and will be sued
    if they don't honor their end of the contract. That makes them sound like they are bragging they are
    getting sued. People have a tendency to shut up if they will make themselves look bad.
     
  37. Pretend you're a doctor and just do it; you seem like a nice person. Send her a bill and maybe she' ll send you what SHE
    thinks the job is worth. If you're lucky the partial payment may come close to paying your overhead.
     
  38. Joel pretty much summed it up...

    Doesn't matter how nice you or how "nice" you want the bride to be see a lawyer and protect yourself.

    If you show and take photos on spec, you will get screwed,
    If you show up in hopes of being paid take the photos and then hold them til you get paid you'll get screwed.

    I'd also add judging by her behaviour so far, if you get the photos give them to her she will find something to
    complain about "You didn't get a picture of my dog licking the ice cream off little Jessica's nose! How could
    you, my wedding is ruined!, I am going to sue.!" Seen it..

    Seeing a lawyer doesn't mean you have to take legal action against her. You are just getting the proper legal
    advice you are asking of us. It may you cost lets say $200 , that is cheap insurance when balanced against what
    you might be out if you go ahead without proper legal advice.

    We always laugh at people who get little Johnny with a entry level SLR they received the day before and then
    complain about the quality. Can you hear the gaffaws if this forum was for lawyers and they were talking about
    somebody getting legal advice from the cousin thinking about going to law school? We should take our own advice
    and hire a professional.

    Best way to protect your reputation is to be right.


    Who knows this all may (hopefully) be unwarranted and she comes through with flying colours and this all may be
    wasted bandwidth, but be ready..
     
  39. "I have never heard someone who is contacted by an attorney mouth off that they were in the wrong and will be sued if they don't honor their end of the contract. That makes them sound like they are bragging they are getting sued. People have a tendency to shut up if they will make themselves look bad."

    While you are right that people don't tend to repeat things that make them look bad, you seem to have missed the fact that such people frequently deflect blame to others, especially when they have it in their head that they are the one in the right. If all this story is true, we would not be surprised that a comment like this will be made... 'That scumbag photographer tried to charge me for services he didn't perform and then sicked a lawyer on me.'
     
  40. If you are having this much trouble up front imagine the headaches you are going to have after the wedding and after your investment in
    time and effort. Do you think she will laugh at any of your jokes at this point? I'm sure you are a perfectly amiable person, but this bride is
    not going to be on your side on the day of the wedding. Bad customers beget bad customers. I think the damage is done at this point (by
    her not you) I would bail out of this job ASAP. I once had a bride that would not admit that her wedding had been cancelled just days prior
    to the appointed date. You have to protect yourself from people acting in bad faith and this is what you have here. There is a good chance
    she is trying to construct an excuse to hustle you. There are people like this everywhere.
     
  41. This really is a simple case of someone breaching an agreement. you shouldn't shoot the wedding, you shouldn't hold the photos hostage. You should do what the contract says. If your contract says that you are paid in full before you take photos then you should get payment in full before you shoot. Not adhering to the contract will create a lot of trouble for you.

    Have an attorney look over the contract before the wedding to make sure the breach is clear and that the document fully supports your actions. Otherwise you could have a legal problem. If an attorney looks at the contract and says she is clearly in breach, case closed, send her a certified letter (or better, have the attorney do it) and be done with her. Not the sort of bride you want to deal with.

    Again, I deal with this stuff everyday in another industry. It seems few people read or respect contracts but usually a letter from the attorney is all that is required to remind them of the document they signed.
     
  42. Are you a PPA member -- with your experience I assume so, if not join today. They will call her!

    Otherwise I agree, stick with your contract. Send her a reigstered letter stating that according to the contract payment must be paid in full. We require payment ahead of time and the request a certified check if paid less than two weeks before the wedding.

    Let us know how you make out. We all get a client like this eventually, but be loyal to your contract.
     
  43. Geoff pretty much said what i was going to say. If a attorney says your contact is good follow the contract to the T and don't stray from it. If you stray from it she can claim its null and void. Also i would have a attorney look over all contracts yearly incase of law changes to make sure your contract is in good standing.
     
  44. Being right or wrong does not really matter with the law. Your best bet is to walk away. BUT you must do this safely.

    Give the bride a chance to have all her money back in return for signing a waiver that you are no longer needed at the wedding. Make sure a lawyer writes the waiver for you.

    Result - you will be free of a potential legal hassle that will taunt you for years. OR she may apologies and pay up.

    But make sure you offer all her money back. Yes you have had hassle, but not as much as could ensue. Get outta there and cover you’re a#@e.
     
  45. The general consensus to seek legal advice immediately is sound. We don’t know what the contract says, so we’re not in a position to give proper advice.

    Having said that, two general comments:

    (1) I agree with others that you should try not to let it rattle you. Treat it as a business matter, not a personal insult.

    (2) I have to disagree strongly with a few people who have suggested that you should shoot the wedding anyway and hold onto the pictures until you get payment. That seems to me a terrible idea. You would be playing games with your client, and playing games is not what professionals do, no matter how bad their clients are. If the contract obliges her to pay in advance (repeat: check with your lawyer), and she doesn’t pay, then I wouldn’t shoot the wedding. I also wouldn’t leave it until the last minute to tell her that. Give her a chance to make alternative arrangements. If you’re going to pull out, be firm and clear, and do it soon.
     
  46. 1.- Be the better person.
    2.- Speak to an attorney.

    Best wishes,
     
  47. As others have suggested, it would be too awkward to shoot the wedding and resolve things afterwords. I could be
    she doesn't have the money and has a friend who will shoot it. It's a mistake I know, but perhaps she wants to loose
    you.

    The reason for that may be she doesn't have the money now (also someone hinted). I'd let her know if she wants you
    to shoot, but doesn't have the money now, perhaps something can be worked out, but also make it clear that you are
    quite busy and won't be offended if she has found another photographer.
     
  48. I shoot entertainment contracts for my livelihood. That's where my REAL money comes from. I could shoot four contracts a year and be just fine. I don't shoot weddings because they pay my bills. I do it because I love it, and in this particular area (having relocated from Manhattan in '06), I do it for about a THIRD of what I used to charge. That being said, its about someone trying to take advantage of me. I get to decide how much its worth to me to walk out my door and spend the day documenting someone else's life. That's MY decision, and I price myself accordingly. Anything less than that and it simply not how I want to spend my Saturday. I have three children who play sports, and a husband whom I rarely see in "the season". I have other things I could be doing and I set my prices in order for it to make it WORTH IT to be away from my family. PERIOD.
    If she called me and said "I'm sorry, we have overextended ourselves and I am having trouble coming up with the rest of the balance." I would certainly attempt to come up with a solution that would benefit both of us. I could then offer to shoot the wedding and then begin working on the photographs once the balance has been paid, along with a signed agreement outlining the terms and an agreement to go through binding arbitration if a dispute should result.

    Since all of this has happened, I have redone my contract to include a clause that states "Any promotional inclusion that accompanies this contract will not serve as cause for any future service exchange or credit towards the balance of this contract." It also states that "It is the sole responsibility of the client to schedule any package associated sessions at least 8 weeks in advance of the desired session date and at least 10 weeks prior to the desired delivery date for prints. In addition, the client assumes all responsibility for the preparation required for each session, to include, but not limited to, arranging for dress alterations, coordinating hair and make-up appointments, and making arrangements for the bridal session bouquet. The client shall hold the photographer harmless should these guidelines not be followed and scheduling and/or time frames become an issue. No refunds, credits, or refunds will be issued." Hopefully this will protect me up front and keep this from becoming an issue again.

    I appreciate all of the feedback guys. 20 heads are certainly better than 1 and I have an appointment with an attorney on Monday and will put a call into PPA in the morning. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that PPA is constantly educating us, that I forget they are there to protect our interests as well.
    My best to all...
     
  49. Please let us know their thoughts...
     

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