Wedding date keeps changing and I want to pull out.

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by w._p., Oct 16, 2016.

  1. I'm having an issue with a wedding. The groom and bride change the wedding date every two weeks. We weren't able to do our engagement shoot because they kept canceling. Wedding date was scheduled to December 2016, changed for February 2017, March 2017, now it's April 2017. At this point, I want to cancel and bill them for the work I've already done for them as per contract. Any advice regarding this would be much appreciated.
  2. What clause in your contract has the customer

    I don't believe being indecisive and annoying will
    be sufficient for you to break the contract unless
    there is a specific clause to which they have not
  3. Also, if they never showed up for the engagement
    shoot what work have you performed thus far?
  4. @brian Engagement party
  5. If they change the date again, if you are booked you can offer to find them another photographer and pay a local pro around $400 to
    $450 to shoot it.

    I'd still work with them, because of possible referrals.
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I want to cancel and bill them for the work I've already done for them as per contract. Any advice regarding this would be much appreciated."​
    Based upon the facts presented, although changing dates for the Wedding Booking is understandably more work for you, surely it is only a small amount of work - just a diary entry.
    However what I see as the key element to this issue is WHEN the dates for the Wedding were changed and whether or not that was enough time to re-book that date and whether or not you previously turned down jobs for those dates and this could be causing a lot of frustration and also potential loss of revenue: how you manage this type of situation firstly goes to how your contract is worded and what situations it addresses.
    So, in simple terms, apropos seeking advice and comment, before any detailed advice can be given, more information from you is required: specifically how does your contract addresses change of date.
    I suppose it is also relevant to ask do you have a signed contract? Please do not take offense at that question, there are quite a few Wedding Photographers who do not.
    Over to you, Wolf -
  7. These are the terms on contract
    regarding right of withdrawal.
    This is the first wedding that
    Ive experience this, to me the
    date changes, missed appointments
    are signs of something bigger and
    its giving me an uneasy gut
    feeling. I just can't put my
    finger on it. P.S. I truly
    appreciate your advice on this
    "14. Right of Withdrawal
    The Photographer’s discovery of
    new information, changes, or
    other factors tending to
    circumvent its policies
    could result in its withdrawal.
    Non co-operation;
    changes of locations, facilities
    or times available; missed
    appointments; bad or returned
    checks, or late payments
    are examples of contributing
    factors. Should the
    Photographer initiate the
    withdrawal, all fees and deposits
    will be returned, excepting fair
    market value for all services/
    products already provided. In
    case of withdrawal,
    $50 an hour is billed for all
    photography services
    already provided, and $50 an hour
    is billed for all
    other services, consultations,
    and all travel time, rounded
    up to the nearest half-hour. If
    the Photographer withdraws
    -- the Client will not be billed
    for any services in
    excess of their deposits (except
    if deposit was in form of
    returned checks)."
  8. Well, then... What's your reluctance?
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for the detailed response.
    "to me the date changes, missed appointments are signs of something bigger and its giving me an uneasy gut feeling."​
    I believe that I understand.
    I am not a lawyer (and it appears from your spelling that you are located in the USA): USA contracts' words are similar in meaning to what I am used to reading and that section quoted from the contract seems fairly clear cut to me.
    I think that 'gut feelings' are well worth considering, especially if there is a few years' business experience behind those feelings.
    From what you outlined and also my perception that you have a few years business experience and my interpretation that what you've presented is as objective and unemotional as possible - I would severe the business relationship. It is probably best to move simply (not verbose) in so far as withdrawing and use the third person in both written and spoken word - for example "the business cannot sustain these change to dates and the missed appointments and accordingly it must enact the withdrawal clause. I would send them an account for services rendered, but frankly I would be willing to write it off the business's ledger as bad debt, without any follow up demand
    Good luck
    PS: My company charged a fee (not 'deposit) to reserve a date and time for our services. That fee was non-refundable. A credit in the amount of that fee was later applied to the final account. We did not have many change of dates: two that I can remember off the top of my head were for genuine reasons and we just transferred the fee with no extra cost to the Client- but the point is we had the control of that choice.
    I don't know if that structure would apply in your area, but it might be worth considering.
    I don't particularly like the idea of my business having to enact "a withdrawal clause"
    If the Client changes the date, then that is their choice and their overt action, in full knowledge that they have to pay a new fee for a new date - that is like them buying a new "thing" even though they didn't use the old "thing".
    When one enacts a 'withdrawal policy', that is more akin to the business penalizing the Client for being naughty.
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Well, then... What's your reluctance?​
    That's probably a rhetorical question, but, whilst not speaking for Wolf, my reluctance, would not be 'reluctance' but rather 'reservation'.

    The reason I commented was to state: Business choices are not necessarily clear cut and simply according to the letter of the contract.
    My 'reservation' even if I knew my contract was iron clad, would be not to make any move, until I considered all the possible outcomes of that move.
  11. Rhetorical, perhaps... more to suggest that Wolf do some soul searching on why the question is difficult to answer... or why the answer isn't apparent. You are most correct, WW... business isn't cut-and-dried. And getting some advise/confirmation from others is always a good idea too.
    We've all had difficult clients (and bosses) but we have to figure out what is in our best interest. If this is mostly a situation where the client's indecision is annoying, then one option is to work with it as best possible and get the job done (eventually). As WW says... it's just a diary/calendar entry. If it is simply too much inconvenience to bear, then there is always the option of simply not being available for whatever date they next select. If the changes are insincere or malicious then "firing" the client may be the better option. But that should be the last resort.
  12. BTW, I'm not a lawyer either, but I work with contracts all day long (non-photographic). That escape clause may look good but I'd be reluctant to exercise it unless the situation was really, really egregious. It isn't very definitively stated and appears to be "anything I don't like can be used by me to back out" language. The non-payment aspect is quite clear, but the change of location, etc probably won't hold water unless there is no way the new date/location can be serviced. To include inconvenience or client selfishness/annoyance to the list of conditions would probably get laughed right out of court.
  13. Like William said, I know that I
    have to right to pull out at this
    point, but my main reason for
    posting this request was to view
    this from a different perspective
    because in my head, I wasnt sure
    if I was overreacting or not
    because I've never encouter a
    situation like this before. Last
    thing I want to do is make an
    uninformed decision.
  14. Understood, Wolf. I respect both your thought process and willingness to seek outside advise. I know how valuable other opinions can be; it has saved me from making a fool of myself many times!
    So let me give you my opinion clearly: you seem to have good cause to be really annoyed with your client but you may be over-reacting. Pulling out of a contract is a significant move that should be reserved for circumstances of client failure to perform or fraud. You don't appear to have either at this point. But you should let the client know that their behavior is problematic and you'll work with them as much as possible, but they need to do their part earnestly.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Have you got a recent legal opinion on how tight that contract's wording is ? - an opion that is from a different lawyer to the one who wrote it?
  16. No I havent got the contract
    reviewed since I got it 4 years
  17. ***Update: I spoke to the client
    and explained to them how the
    date changes are affecting my
    schedule and any further date
    change, I will have to remove
    myself. They offered to pay the
    whole remaining balance for the
    inconvenience. I told them it's
    not necessary to do so just in
    case anything else happens, I
    don't want to have to refund all
    that money.
  18. It's up to you whether you want to keep postponing. But if on the occasion of the first postponement you had already had something booked for that day, that would have been the end of all this, right?

    A wedding contract is usually to shoot on a certain day, not to shoot whenever the couple might feel like it. There have been several threads on here about charging a reservation fee and being clear that the fee is for the service of setting aside the date and agreeing not to commit yourself to any other obligations on that day. Different from just a deposit.
  19. My sense is this is not work you want to engage in and as such, if I were you, would gracefully extract myself from the wedding. The foreseen ongoing headaches if you do the wedding will keep you up many nights. And you will probably buy the local store out of antacids.
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Wolf, that seems like a good choice - like sending them a warning bell with a logical explanation.
    Good luck with it.
  21. and any further date change, I will have to remove myself.​
    This is what I was going to say before you wrote it. Similar to a warning instead of a speeding ticket, you will think the next time and not speed, even though you didn't get an actual ticket.

    You didn't say, and maybe don't know, the reason for the postponements. In some cases, it might matter.
  22. What date is on your contract? Hope you made one. If they change the date, simply back out. You probably legally could keep the deposit, but IMO that would be in poor taste. Just tell them you have another even booked for the new date.
    this should be a no brainer.
  23. Hang on, so you have a contract, initially they booked you for their December wedding, now they keep changing the date? Do you have no weddings booked for 2017?! If it's not in your contract already, I'd put a clause in regarding postponements/cancellation asap. Not sure this works for everyone in every country (I'm in the UK) but the standard clause is that cancellation by the client means no refund of deposit if 3 months before the wedding or less (unless I can find another booking for that date). Postponement means deposit is transferred to new wedding date subject to availability, otherwise I treat it as a cancellation unless I can make a 'replacement' booking for the original wedding date or it's well in advance i.e. at least 6 months before the wedding date - in which case I happily refund the deposit in full.
    Contract issues aside, why don't you just say that you're not available for their new wedding date? That's perfectly reasonable.
    Out of curiosity: what work is it you've already done for them? Sounds like you haven't even done the engagement shoot yet...
  24. This may no longer apply to the OP, but someone may find this useful later. Be very specific in the wording of your contract. Here is what I use:
    The client shall submit a down payment of 25% with this signed contract to reserve the date and services of their wedding. The remainder is to be paid one month prior to the date of the wedding. The down payment is non-refundable. The wedding date may be rescheduled once for illness or emergency and will be subject to the availability of the photographer for the new date. Any additional date changes will result in a rescheduling fee of $500.​
    One shot at changing then you ding them. Depending on your relationship with the client and the individual circumstances, you may choose to not invoke the clause, but it's always there if you feel like you're being abused.
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "This may no longer apply to the OP, but someone may find this useful later."​
    It could be of more use if you stated where you work, either here or on your Bio Page, because Contract Law (especially wording) differs between locations, across the world.
  26. As it hasn't been discussed here, it reminds me of a story not long ago about a wedding venue provider that went bankrupt after collecting many deposits. Many couples were stuck at the last minute without a venue, and without money to pay for one.
    I suppose being stuck without a photographer isn't as bad as without a venue, but presumably photographers can also go out of business after collecting deposits.

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