Help dealing with bride's demands

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by adrienne_kimmel, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. I need some advice on how to handle a client. First of all, the bride booked me last night and her wedding is in 2 weeks. She seems extremely picky by any standards, but especially because she is booking a photographer 2 weeks before her wedding. Granted, it is a Sunday wedding, but it’s in July.
    When we were meeting, she insisted the primary photographer be a female (no problem…I am female). My contract states there is to be a 2nd photographer. She said she preferred a female. I said OK to this but warned her that I usually work with a male. She said she would talk it over with her fiancé and get back to me about male or female. She contacted me earlier today and said to go ahead and use my usual male photographer. I went ahead and booked my usual 2nd shooter.
    A few hours later, the bride says she really would rather both photographers be female because she and her fiancé felt very strongly about this and would just feel much more comfortable. I spend the next few hours talking with my female photographer friends and I can’t seem to lock down any for the wedding. I don’t know what to do now. I did say I could get a female, but I had no idea all of them would not be able to do it. I know my 2nd shooter will be OK with me cancelling, but I don’t know what to do. I can’t find a female replacement and the wedding is in 2 weeks.
    For the legal aspect: I do have a clause that if I fail to comply with the terms outlined in the contract, my liability is limited to a refund of money paid… but I’ve never returned money before. A “female” is not specified in the contract, but it was a hand written contract. I did originally have it in there, but crossed it out (and by cross out I mean completely covered it with black). However, now that I think about it I did not have her initial the cross out. Is that a problem?
    Any suggestions? What are my liabilities? What should I do?
  2. Use your inability to get a female second as an excuse to get out of working with this bride. Refund her deposit and wish her the best of luck with her wedding. It's extremely unlikely that she will become more reasonable and easier to work with.
  3. adrienne,
    this is a tricky problem and i am sorry that you are having to face such a situation. contracts are enforceable by law courts. referring to contracts in the presence of clients seldom make for a happy working relationship. the situation would only get worse if you do not comply at this stage.
    of course her demands are unreasonable. however, when you have a business to run, unless it severly puts you out, the customer is always right. try to find a female assistant. if you can't then do it alone. the local college might have someone willing to assist for experience.
  4. yeah, same as Mike. Go out that and enjoy that Sunday with your family.
  5. If I understand your posting correctly, I presume you crossed out the clause "if I fail to comply with the terms outlined in the contract, my liability is limited to a refund of money paid "? If that was the case, you are at a disadvantage. If it is available where you reside, you should now take advantage of the 30 minutes of free legal advice from a lawyer. There may be a case law applying to your situation to your advantage that you could use as your escape.
    A "Bridezilla ", as described, will have the stronger capabilities of suing for damages. So, be prepared with your notes which will be an honest account of your plight.
  6. I find it cheeky asking for such demands especially 2 weeks before the wedding! You've done the right thing to ask on here as I'm sure one of the members on this forum will have some decent advice for you.
    Makes you want to buy a wig for the male photographer (a little light humour, no pun intended).
    See, I would be scared to cancel (maybe because I've only just started) but because I would be thinking to myself that there is no way any other photographer will be able to do it anything less then 2 weeks notice. I would explain to her that in such short notice that she can try finding another photographer but it would be a risk and try explaining to her that you would either do it yourself or get more coverage by hiring the 2nd photographer.
    Sorry I can't offer more advice and I hope you find a solution
  7. Just explain that you're unable to find a female at this late could offer to shoot it alone as Starvy and Anthony suggests above, but if you go that route, tell them that it would add money to the cost of coverage because it creates more work. Otherwise, they'll feel entitled to paying you less thinking that only having one photographer should be less expensive. I wouldn't suggest with going with just any female assistant at this late date, too many variables that you can't control.
    Also, as Mike and Angel suggest, this may be the perfect excuse to cut your losses, refund all the money and get out while the gettin's good.
  8. Agree with Mike. It sounds that you can bounce into even more problems further down the line? Maybe she thinks your photos are not EXCATLY the same standard as the one you showed and then give you problems for that.
    I believe wedding photography should be a two-way thing. A relationship between the couple and the photographer. Should be some connection to get those magical moments.
  9. Do the very smart thing in this. Give her her money back TODAY and go swimming or hiking that day.
    Trust me on this one... Both you and the Bridezilla will be better off (especially YOU).
  10. I too suspect that this bride will make the day miserable with the demands. This is only just the beginning. Tell the bride you are sorry but you cannot find a female second photographer and as such you will not be doing the wedding. Give her the money back and move on.
  11. I did originally have it in there, but crossed it out (and by cross out I mean completely covered it with black). However, now that I think about it I did not have her initial the cross out. Is that a problem?​
    Only if she can produce a copy without all of the crossing out.
  12. Wow thank you everyone. It sounds like my initial gut to walk away might not be that crazy. I just couldn’t believe that someone who hires a photographer 2 weeks before the wedding would be so demanding. It does bring up fear that there will be more trouble after the wedding.
    Also, She seems to have a very specific idea of how she wants her photos, but she is not allowing time for them. She does not want to do any of her and the bridal party before the wedding… just the getting ready pictures. I’m trying to convince her to let me at least do all the men only photos before, but she is still “getting back to me.” My next fear is that I will end up with just one crazy hour after the ceremony to take all the formal photos.
    Peter: I crossed out the female 2nd photographer aspect (It now only says 2nd photographer)

    Thanks again for all the advice everyone.
  13. Adrienne,
    I recommend also that you go with you gut instinct and RUN the other way!
    She is asking for trouble and it's not going to be worth the aggrevation- refund her money and let her know that she no longer meets your requirements for the type of clients that you do business with... turn the tables on her.
    I do not do business with people who are like the woman that you described and I let them know that I will not be available to shoot their wedding and recommend that they find another photographer...
    She is setting you up for trouble.
    Let her know that her demands are unreasonable, and she isn't being cooropertaive in allowing you to capture the photo's in the time that YOU need set aside.
  14. The bigger problem here is that you have let a bride dictate how you will work. I can understand wanting a female photographer for some of the getting ready shots, but after that it really doesn't matter. The next time that this happens, I would explaing that you need to be compfortable with your second shooter that you also work with who is available on a given weekend. Sometimes a male . . . sometimes a female. If I take my car into the shop and say that I only want Bob to work on it, they will tell me that may have to wait longer to get Bob. He has a few cars in front of mine. In other words, if I want Bob, I have to conform to THEIR schedule. If she wants to pick the weekend that gets married, she gets the second photographer that is availalbe.
  15. Hmm... sounds like gender discrimination is going on here. I wonder what the laws are like concerning this where you live.
  16. Wow, as a former part time wedding shooter I can't imagine why the bride insists on only female photographers? Boggles my mind! Any indication or specific reason why?
    Like the others, I'd say goodbye and good luck trying to find another pair of female photographers.
  17. Give her her money back and run. It's not worth your time. You are the professional and they should be listening to you for advice and what to do. We do not accept bookings less than a month from the wedding simply because of getting brides like this. As well, if she sounded like this in the interview why agree to work with her? It's okay to say no to clients that you don't think are wanting what you offer! For your sake AND THERE'S.
  18. "Peter: I crossed out the female 2nd photographer aspect (It now only says 2nd photographer)"
    Thanks for the clarification. This is an easy one. Based on your information, and that you have also seeked for answers here, you have attempted to exercise due diligence in trying to comply with your client's wishes. Due to the 'abnomal' short notice for you to provide acceptable services to your client which undoubtedly increases the probability of finding a requested second female photographer to your liking near impossible, you are therefore in a good position to refund the money and terminate the contract. It's just my non-legal opinion.
  19. Your liabilities would seem to be limited, refund would not be out of the question as it might be difficult to suggest you've "spent" the money on that wedding already, although you have spent some time trying to change photographers - at her request. If she is going to insist on a second female photogrpaher, changing the existing contract, then you may not be able to meet the requested change - her request - and you can probably mutually end the contract.
    However, it would take a real lawyer to examine the contract and tell you what your actual liabilities are.
    Keep in mind that if presented with the options of hainvg a female/male photographer team or no photographers/no pictures two weeks (and counting) out from the wedding, she may decide to go with the contract as is. Which leaves you no clean way to bail.
  20. Why, if she's so picky about the photography, is she looking for a photographer a couple of weeks before the wedding? I wonder if she hasn't already hired one or more other photographers and then lost them.
  21. Why run away? Run as fast as you can towards the bride. It is time to tactfully push back. This is a challenge and there will be many more ahead with other weddings.
    I suggest that you make it VERY CLEAR how YOU do business and if she wakes up and becomes more amicable then you have a green light. If instead she starts to squirm... then it is time to tell her you will not be photographing her wedding.
  22. I would first try to find out why the bride feels so strongly about having two female photographers. Once you know her reasoning, it will be easier for you to address her concerns. As others have mentioned, is she worried about the getting ready photos? If that's the real heart of the matter, it's an easy answer. Just reassure her that you'll be the only photographer in the room.
    I would let the bride know that your second shooter ( either male or female) always takes their direction from you and that you will not ask the bride to do anything that makes her uncomfortable. Try having a discussion with her to find out where the real issue is coming from. I wouldn't walk away unless I knew the issue was something that I couldn't resolve. Good luck!
  23. My husband manages an auto body shop. He always quotes the shop owner when he has a problem customer: If either of us is going to be unhappy in this business relationship, then we shouldn't be doing business together. He is always ready with the names of other shops should he find himself with a client who doesn't trust them to do a good job. It's surprising how fast people change their tunes when they encounter this sensible attitude. And sometimes they go somewhere else, and everyone is glad they did. The shop still gets plenty of business. It makes sense, when you think about it, that if a client doesn't trust you to do your job (or you don't trust them to keep their word), it's going to be a bad transaction.
    I would try to sort out why she's so bent on having only women photographing the wedding, and see if there's something you can do to work with that. And I would explain that the ONLY way you're going to get all the shots she wants is to set some time aside at X, Y or Z points during the day. Be very clear about that. Because if you are not clear, then she will be upset later that the shots weren't there. Setting expecations with her is critical. If she won't be reasonable about either of these issues, then I think it's time to quit. Why? Because one or both of you will be unhappy. I wouldn't give her tons of time to get back to you either because you need to bail now if she's going to find anyone else.
  24. Adrienne, some thoughts- 1. this female only 2nd photog bothers me. my first reaction is what is she going to ask you to take pics of? and if it might the worst you can think of, do you really want to take those pics? 2. if she is so pickey about a photog, why is she waiting to just before the wedding to line up a photog? a job that should have been done a long time ago. not to mention you are talking about the 3 big wedding months. june july august: she must know that halls churches caterers all have heavy booking at that time, and so would photogs. why wait? unless as has been suggested that she has been turned down already and YOU are what she is trying to get in the time left. 3. if me, i would explain that no female 2nd is available but your regular guy is, and if that is ok(and you are still willing?) the date is a go. if not THEN HAND HER THE MONEY, A CHECK, AND WALK AWAY. other b+g do get married and you can take their pics without the hassles.
    a story, when i shot weddings some time ago. one in particular i was at the bride's mothers house at 725am and was shooting a t 740am during all the dressing part and all the rest. there was not any kind of a problem. since i didn't leave the reception till the b+g left and that was after 200am i was over 18hrs on my feet and shooting; and that was done with film.
  25. I read all the posts and
    I sympatize with you.
    remember she is young and if
    thius is her first wedding
    she likely is inexperiences in making business decisions.
    be thankful you are not being see-sawed by a mother
    or mother-in-law
    ? or are you?
    I feel the most sorry for the poor groom.
    it could be a religous thing, about a man in the getting
    ready room.
    the issue about the lack and time for
    formal pictures.
    will come back and bite you.
    there was a bride that INSISTED
    on digital, no film,
    because of enviromental issues.
    there are all sort of kooky ideas
    some people have. best to avoid conflict
    and possibly to avoid that wedding.
    the lady whose husband manages
    a body shop zero-ed in on the
    right idea.
  26. I'm with Walter.... your discomfort will go into the lessons learned file; the poor groom is stuck with this bride until..... hmmm, whenever she wants to get herself a female groom, it seems.
    I suspect that this bride has gone down the whole yellow pages for a photographer and has been turned down by all but you. Run Adrienne Run!
  27. "For the legal aspect: I do have a clause that if I fail to comply with the terms outlined in the contract, my liability is limited to a refund of money paid"​
    First, my guess is that you won't be the first photographer to run away from this bride. That's probably why she was only 2 weeks away without a photographer. She probably pulled some similar stunt on another photographer already.
    Next, I don't interpret the above line in your contract the same way as you do. To me, it reads that if you don't perform up to standards and she takes you to court and wins, then the maximum you would be responsible for is the amount paid. If this were the situation, the amount you might owe would be up to the judge, NOT the contract. Also, if you simply return her money and leave her "high and dry", this could be a potentially serious problem. If you can get whoever signed the contract to sign a release and accept full payment as satisfaction of cancellation, then you may be OK.
    Aside from my opinion, PLEASE contact an attorney. Weddings are highly emotional and a crying bride in a courtroom is not a pretty sight. Do your homework....-Aimee
  28. How much is she paying you and can you do without getting that payment. If the answer is yes, then just tell the bride that you cannot find a female photographer and she has a choice to have a male photographer or get her deposit back. Let her make a choice. You may be surprised that she will agree to male second photographer. You are expected to perform miracles. Now if she sues, you will have to show that that you tried to get female but none was available on that date. You said you tried so proving your diligence should not be a problem. Good luck. Sandy
  29. If you're located anywhere near NYC, email me - I volunteer to be your 2nd shooter!
  30. Art Tatum's advice seems wise to me. Be sure of yourself in all your dealings, or you will never succeed in this business. When you are sure of yourself, and make your business decisions stand, then people will be more sure of you. When you hesitate, they will as well.

    ...a crying bride in a courtroom is not a pretty sight. Do your homework....-Aimee
    Another excellent point. When everything is airtight contractually, that is the only time you won't have to worry about that.
  31. Only if she can produce a copy without all of the crossing out.

    Why would you say its the only way there could be a problem when the client could simply produce no copy at all (i.e. it's lost), let the original (which has none of her initials) be used in court and claim the photographer did the cross out?
  32. if you belong to DWF you can advertise for a second shooter there and find someone very easily i'm sure... or do any of the above....
  33. GREAT thought there by Art. Nice way of looking at it man! :-D
  34. Thank you everyone for your words of wisdom and encouragement. I know exactly what I'm going to do now. Thank you!
    On a side note, I definitely wrote this post in a flurry of panic. I worked for a wedding studio for a while, so I think I’m still trying to overcome that fear of flying solo. I need to learn to control that fear much better. Also, this has been my first experience with a somewhat demanding client. There is nothing inherently wrong with that (some people just know what they want), but it’s certainly a challenge to work with. I’ve learned that I need to learn how to work better and smarter with this type of client.
    Yes, the client is very particular in what they need and want. As a photographer, this can be difficult to handle. Yes, the client has some unrealistic expectations. This can be even more difficult to handle. These are not, however, things a reasonably person with decent communications skills can’t overcome : P
    Thanks again for everyone’s advice.
  35. Be grateful you're not the groom. He's in for a rough ride.
  36. 1- Never ever book a wedding with two weeks to go. That tells you something about the customer right there.
    2- Demanding a female only, wow is that not discrimination. You could get sued by the fellow you hired.
    3-Give a refund and get a signed release if you are able.
    4- My guess is you may be dealing with a bipolar person, if so my experience is you will lose big no matter what.
    Bob K
  37. just a few words, RUN AWAY from this customer, be polite, but RUN AWAY.
    Apologize and offer to find/recommend someone else to cover her wedding. Find any available (good) excuse in the book, sick grandma, dog got hit by .... you already know... and politely refuse to work with her.
    Just my $.02.
  38. It's a wedding not a gynae exam!
    Refund and run!
    Although there is much merit in what Art had to say a successful businessman/woman also knows when not to even try.
  39. Can't your male 2nd shooter just put on a wig and a dress? Sorry, couldn't resist...:p
  40. So.... how did it turn out? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

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