Wow! What do I do?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by missy_kay, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. I have a wedding next Sunday and I stated on every contract "wedding must be paid in full one month prior to event".
    So the couple sent me a check about a week and 1/2 ago (it was late) and I just took it to the bank yesterday and the check date says "10/4/09". So I can't cash it until then. UMMMM!!!! The wedding is next SUNDAY! I'm so upset right now.
    1) would you take the wedding now that they broke the contract?
    2) Would you charge them extra for all this hassle and for breaking the contract?
    3) What would you do?
    I e-mailed her and told her I would not be able to photograph her wedding until the balance is paid in full. This is very frustrating. Who does stuff like this!?
  2. Put on your customer service skills, it comes with the business.
  3. Contact the client by phone and let them know that they broke the contract. I think in this situation it is important to speak to the client (whomever the contract was with) directly and make sure they understand that a post-dated check is not an acceptable form of payment. Perhaps they can rectify the situation with a current check. I would still plan on the wedding but only if they pay the negotiated rate as it is stated in your contract. I would be ready to proceed as your contract states in the event of a cancellation. I assume that would be no refund for any deposits paid, and tear up the post-dated check.
    It is really too bad that some people just don't pay attention to contracts and feel they can take advantage of you. But perhaps this is just a horrible misunderstanding. I hope it works out in the end!
  4. It is really too bad that some people just don't pay attention to contracts and feel they can take advantage of you.
    See that's the thing, I wouldn't be upset if I knew it was a mistake. But this just seems like it was done on purpose. And that really upsets me.
  5. do not destroy the post dated check
    ask for cash not a check.
    nothing else is sure.
    be prepared to shoot the wedding.
    but only if the contract is properly fufilled.
    even go so far if they haggle delinger and delay.
    take another job that day if they still seem shakey.
    the contract is broken
    you could still be a " nice guy" and shoot the wedding.
    but I forsee problems getting paid for any oither work or albums.
  6. Firstly, if someone sent me a cheque so close to the wedding I'd have probably tried to bank it immediately, that way I'd have seen that it was post-dated or it would have time to go through the system/or bounce. You've left it a week and a half, so now you don't have much time to do anything.
    This close to the wedding, I'd accept:
    1) Cheque - if they paid special clearance (might just make it before the wedding). I'm in the UK, so I don't know if you have this.
    2) Cash
    3) Bank Transfer
    You want your money from this couple, so don't let your emotions get in the way. Be polite and civil. If your snappy with them it may get their backs up and might make things difficult. This doesn't mean be a pushover, it just means keep it very business like. State the contract terms and what needs to be done to get this sorted. I wouldn't charge them extra at this stage, if you try that they may not send you the money.
    I wouldn't photograph a wedding without payment, I've seen this go horribly worng for photographers. For one guy, the couples cheque bounced just before the wedding, he decided to shoot it anyway. He wouldn't give them any photos afterwards until the couple paid. The couple took him to court, as they wanted the photos without having to pay and they won! Apparently by photographing the wedding without payment the photographer had broken his own contract (or something similar). None of us could believe he lost.
    Hope you get it sorted xx
  7. Contact them suggesting an error was made. Remind them payment was due three weeks ago.
    Being a nice person, I would due the wedding but deliver nothing untill the bill was paid. I would not tell them I will do the wedding w/o payment upfront while you try to get at least half payment now. Do no post processing. Delivery will be 4 weeks after payment to be sure checks clear and give you time to do post.
    The chances are small you will get work for that day and you will be out totally if you do not proceed. Now if you can get a job for that day, then a decision need be made. If you have a helper who gets paid regardless, the thing gets complicated.
    If you think you are going to be stiffed and they have a lame excuse, take a walk.
    Times have gotten very hard lately and people are meeting unforseen difficulties.
  8. it


    Phone them, be polite, explain and resolve.
  9. Give them the benefit of the doubt. But do it over the phone. You are well within your rights to walk (obviously), but tell them you need to meet with them to pick up by hand a cash or MO. Keep in mind that if they write you a check now, and it bounces, you won't know about it until after you shoot the wedding (some banks take up to ten business days to turn it around). Then you are in an even worse position because you have the pictures already taken.
    Whatever you do, DONT shoot the wedding with a contract that's already been broken. You are setting yourself up if you do. You need a completely new contract with them
  10. "wedding must be paid in full one month prior to event".

    This isn't the part of the contract that matters. You aren't asking if the contact is breached, you are asking what to do FOLLOWING of a breach. Since you didn't tell anyone what your contract says will happen in the event of a breach, no one is qualified to give you reliable advice.
  11. Could well have been a genuine mistake. I would assume so, and then let them know (very nicely) that the balance payment has not been made and could they please forward that check to you ASAP.
    I would plan to shoot the wedding regardless, then put it to one side when done and don't PP them till you receive the full payment. I would give them the benefit of the doubt and shoot it with a great attitude as normal.
    Best, D.
  12. This one smells funny. There is a high risk that they spitefully 'not like' the photos (even if the photos are up to your standards Kay) and cancel the post-dated check. Shooting the wedding without the balance payment simply should not be done.
    Now if you did decide for some unknown reason to shoot the wedding... would your heart and mind be into it? Probably not.
  13. if this were me, i would draft a totally new contract, or revise the existing. if you have only received payment for 50% of the total, then give them 50% of the original time you promised. example, instead of 8 hours coverage, they get 4. another option is to contract up some payment plan for the balance. i think you have a few options here and need make a decision based on the risk. i don't know what you charge, or how much you have received so far. whatever you agree on, it needs to be in writing.
  14. Did you contact them before the one-month deadline reminding them full payment was due? Did you send them a copy of the signed contract? Even if you did both those things and more, it would be unprofessional to not shoot the wedding. Do you believe your reputation could handle such negative feedback over a misunderstanding? How do you thing the couple will spin it with their friends, co-workers, relatives, neighbors, church congregation, other vendors, strangers on the street, Better Business Bureau, etc.
    Here's what I would do:
    "Hi, I received your check, but I noticed that it was post-dated. I wanted to remind you that my contract states that full payment be made 30 days before the wedding and we had discussed this at our intial consultation. As you know, I make every effort to post your photos within two weeks of the wedding, a delay in payment will delay the proofs two additional weeks until the check clears. While I will naturally still take the photos, I will not do any additional work until the check clears. If you would rather not incur a delay, you can pay in cash before the wedding."
    This is crunch time for the couple- everything is coming to a head. They have 1,000 things to do and several vendors. Do you REALLY want to be the one who causes the bride to flip out because she missed a sentence in the contract?
    What are you going to lose by doing the wedding? Time? What will you gain by not doing it? Nothing? What harm can it do to do it? None. What harm can it do to NOT do it? Lots.
    Chalk it up to an honest mistake, improve your customer service so that you send them reminders two months out with a copy of their contract.
    Just my thoughts. I've done well over 200 weddings and never had a payment issue. You hold all the cards, they don't get photos if you don't get paid! No sneak peeks, no blog posts, no facebook uploads, not even a peek at the camera lcd.

  15. Sometimes people simply make mistakes. I would never handle a situation like this in an email format. This to me requires a phone call, laid back conversation. It's really not a big deal to arrange some sort of payment plan; if thats the issue.

    I've shot about 10 weddings or so, in which the couples have been strapped with money issues. When this has happened I show up anyway for the wedding, with the understanding that you don't give them anything until all of the funds clear. So far, taking this approach has a success rate of 100 percent. They've always paid.
  16. BTW, I did just notice the date is October for a June wedding, I read it as dated the date of the wedding or the next day. I still think it's a mistake and should be hanled via a phone call. "Did you mean to post-date the check by four months ha ha ha"
  17. As others have suggested, time for customer service skills. If it were me, I'd shoot the wedding. However, if the contract is as you say (payment in full before the ceremony) then, I would do nothing with the images until the clients fulfilled their part of the contract. I'd back the images up as usual, but no sorting, selecting, post-processing, nothing. No online galleries, etc. As soon as they have product, you have no leverage.
    I would not recommend skipping the wedding if they don't pay in advance. I am not a lwayer, but, if you don't show up, it probably won't help you in court.
  18. I read the posts too quickly! I see Bob Bernardo already advised you.
  19. 10/4/09 is also 10 April, 2009. Check (no pun intended!) to see if that was what they meant to write.
  20. I was thinking that too Nick, however most checks can't be cashed after a certain amount of time has passed from the date.
  21. I was told by my bank once while cashing a post dated check, that the date is essentially irrelavent these days. That was the first of 2 post dated checks they cashed for me. Have you confirmed your bank's policies on this yet? It may be worth asking.
    Other than that, were this me, I would have contacted them by phone and in a totally laid back manner, been assumptive about the fact that there was what must have been an error made when filling out the check, and could they please get payment to me ASAP so that all of "our" ducks can be in row when the date rolls 'round. I mean, isn't there a chance this was not inentional since the event is nearly here and the check date is October? Just a thought.
  22. Cash the check. Most bank don't even look at the date.
  23. Here, a post dated cheque is illegal. Sign up with your bank to accept Visa/Mastercard or take internet banking direct deposits. No one here accepts cheques anymore.
    Or simply state that payment is required 30 days before the event, or they will lose the booking.
  24. Sort it out with a telephone call to the couple. Use an amicable tone. The last thing you'd want is for this to be an email tirade and they end up bad-mouthing you to others. News travels fast. Bad news even more so ;-) Protect your reputation and view this as an opportunity to enhance it by dealing with it with a cool head ;)
  25. Thank you all for your help!
    What I've decided to do is call the couple today (As I couldnt yesterday with having another wedding), and inform them the situation with the mistake on the check.
    Since the contract is breeched, I will require a completely new contract to be drawn up and signed by them prior to the event (As Anna suggested above, it would be foolish of me to go through with the wedding when the contract is already breeched unless a new one was drawn up).
    So I will basically ask the couple what they can afford to do and place that in the new contract. I will also charge them a fee of $150 for breech of contract and drawing up of new contract by my lawyer, which does not have to be paid until after the wedding, but must be paid in full before delivery of images.

  26. My thought is that you're going to come across as a jerk, no offense. I think you waited too long- you didn't remind them of the deadline, you've had the check for two weeks, and now you want to make a big stink less than a week before their wedding? I certainly hope that you find out the story before informing them of the new contract and penalty. You're also going to insult them by asking "what the couple can afford"? AND you're going to mention lawyers?
    You're going to be spending 6-10 hours with this couple trying to capture the happy moments of their day, do you really want to put a negative foot forward? If they're pissy with you, are you going to get the best photos? Then if they don't like them, they can blame their mood on your attitude and they'll nitpick every detail.
    I still say find out the story, chalk it up to a mistake on both of your parts, get paid in cash or a cashiers check, and move on. Just let them know that since there was a problem with the check that you must have cash or a cashier's check. If they can't do that, then no work will be done on the photos until after all payments are cleared.
  27. My thought is that you're going to come across as a jerk, no offense. I think you waited too long- you didn't remind them of the deadline, you've had the check for two weeks, and now you want to make a big stink less than a week before their wedding?

    I did remind them of their deadline and I've only had the check a couple of days.
    I certainly hope that you find out the story before informing them of the new contract and penalty.

    If the contract has been broken, I legally can't do the wedding. I have to pay $120 to the lawyer to draw up a new contract. It's not just a random penalty. I also have to pay $30 for overnight delivery of lenses I usually rent with the money from the wedding, but in this case have been unable to.
    You're also going to insult them by asking "what the couple can afford"? AND you're going to mention lawyers?

    I'm trying to work with them. You don't think it's more insulting if I place an ultimatium on them stating "You must have this paid in full prior to the wedding". What if they can't afford it? Does this mean I won't do the wedding.
    Just let them know that since there was a problem with the check that you must have cash or a cashier's check. If they can't do that, then no work will be done on the photos until after all payments are cleared.
    I legally cannot take pictures if there is no new contract in place. Like stated above, if a photographer does that knowing the contract was already breeched, they can get sued even if the couple never pays them.
  28. Kay ... my immediate feedback is that it's really tough to photograph a wedding if the customer has words like "breech" and "contract" and "lawyer" all in the same sentence mere days before the wedding.
    ~Who signed the check?
    ~Is there any way at all of keeping the bride and groom away from this tangled web until it's straightened out?
    ~I always send out a "reminder" via email on the day before the deadline. I format it to read in a way that is not suspicious or demeaning. I find success with bringing it up as a service to their busy and hectic planning schedule:
    Hi ___ and ____:

    One last bit of business before the fun starts!

    A quick reminder: I know things can get hectic as a wedding day approaches so a quick reminder that the final payment is due two weeks prior to your wedding day celebration (per contractual agreement :) ).

    If the payment is already on it's way to us in the mail then just discard this reminder; if you've been to busy to think about it then I know you will \ appreciate the reminder.

    Looking forward to your wedding day photography and meeting many of the people in your circle of family and friends!!

    ~Amount Due: $ ____.__
    If the above gets no response within 12 to 24 hours then I place a phone call and say the same thing: I am assuming they have been Incredibly Busy so I'm giving a reminder (as a service to them). This is Not helpful to you at this point; you have a tough situation for sure.
    Get "the date" straightened out first: they might be thinking they dated it in April and are all worried that they've offended you so they back dated it ... you Never Know. Find out "the facts" first which it looks like you're doing but First Approach is of the spirit that you're calling as a "service" to them as you're sure they are Hectic and Busy. They may have actually written the check in April and "forgot" to send it. Just smile.
    ~Even in the case of having to deal with them after the payment date has passed I'd frame everything in as positive manner as possible. It's rather easy to pleasantly convey your situation without coming across angry or perturbed (which you absolutely have a right to feel right now!).
    ~Look long term: even if this gets ugly you want to be positive and loving as you turn them down and take needed steps to cover yourself. This approach will serve you well in the long term. Oh, one last tip: make sure you talk to "the right person" only ... don't get several people involved from the family side: less is more if they are the right person. Good Luck! Let us know how it turns out.
  29. "So I will basically ask the couple what they can afford to do and place that in the new contract. I will also charge them a fee of $150 for breech of contract and drawing up of new contract by my lawyer, which does not have to be paid until after the wedding, but must be paid in full before delivery of images."
    This is almost sure to put a stinky damper on their wedding day, and you will not come out well in this situation.
    Call them, let them know you cannot accept a post-dated check, and let them know that a correctly dated check has to be recieved ASAP. Don't accuse, don't charge them $150 for breech of contract...honestly, none of that will work out well for you. You're going to end up with ticked off clients and bad word of mouth.
    Do the wedding, and sit on the pictures until they pay. Don't post process anything until you have $$ in hand, and let them know this up front.
  30. Well I spoke with the bride and she was very nice about the situation and I agreed to waive the contract fee if she paid in cash, which she offered to do. So the situation is worked out. I will just make up another contract myself without paying the lawyer his fee to draw up another contract and I'll just eat the costs on overnight shipping for the lens.
  31. Yeah, I think Betty is on target - just go easy.
    The best guess is it's an honest mistake and they didn't realize forward dating the check would make you unable to cash it (I certainly didn't know that was true). Even if they did, not much is to be gained by making a stink.
    I'd just call them nicely, explain the situation, and ask that they re-issue the check properly data ASAP. If they don't comply or are a pain about it, then I'd start getting assertive about it. Until then, I'd treat it as an ordinary mistake.
  32. Did I read and understand correctly -- you pay a lawyer $150 to draw up a contract for every wedding you shoot? That is one lucky lawyer!
  33. Brian,
    No I paid $150 for the original contract, and the lawyer stated if the contract had to be revised for any reason he would charge $120. I have yet to be in need of a revision until now.
  34. Most people couldn't turn a profit with that approach. Best of luck to you.
  35. could be a honest mistake, get corrected check, take to their bank, see if they can cash it, or check for sufficient funds.
  36. Kay,
    I'm glad it worked out for you! You did say that the couple sent you the check a week and a half ago and hadn't said anything about sending out a reminder. Thus my statement above.
  37. Kay - glad to see everything worked out well.
  38. In many states a post dated check does not destroy negotiability under the UCC. Check with your bank. You may be able to deposit it. the question is whether the funds are available to pay you or not :)
  39. I am skeptical about about the case Anna described about the photographer not having to be paid. Usually when I hear storys like this its a rare instance and, more often, small but critical relevent circumstances and facts are left out of the story which cause it to make complete sense when included. I can't give advice on what to do in this and other cases as there are too may unknown variables.
    I can give advice as to this paying a lawyer for new contracts each time there is a deadline missed or something like that. I would go see the lawyer or a different lawyer to supply language and mechanisms to insert an amendment, novation or other modification so that the wheel doesn't need to be invented each time. Ask them about having a provision allowing changes at the sole written discretion of the photographer or after breach language that can be inserted to salvage the shoot if the photographer so desires.
  40. Wow. I know some people expect payment before the wedding. In 17 years I never did. Got paid the day of... never got burned. I hold the precious images... That's all the insurance I ever needed. No pay - no proofs. easy.
  41. A post dated check is not a true negotiable instrument in most jurisdictions. It is a request for you to make a loan, offered by the issuer/borrower and perhaps accepted by you, that contemplates payment in the future only, just like any other loan. A check is unique in credit forms that when it bounces, one can engage the police and the criminal courts in its collection. However, a post dated check is generally not regarded as a "check" for criminal law purposes. As such if this instrument should bounce, and if the police should charge the issuer with a crime, the issuers have a valid legal defense in most jurisdictions because the crime only applies to true checks. So, one's only collection mechanisms are small claims court, a collection agency or a collection attorney. The if the proud couple busted themselves in wedding prep, then they may not be very collectible for a civil debt such as simple loan for money.
    Perhaps some more financially responsible (and collectible) person would be willing to guarantee the check or the debt in writing. One could simply deposit the instrument, and in most cases the bank and clearinghouse machines will process it. If it is honored, great. If it is dishonored, then you have bank charges and a civil collection process, without the police, which will require you to absorb costs.
    One reason that a check could be post dated is because they have a cash flow problem. Or, they may want to excercise control or have leverage over you since they have not seen the final product yet. Neither situation is very good for the photographer.
  42. If you feel so strongly about charging the couple all sorts of extra fees, just back out of it and take the day off. You seem way too stressed over this, to make this into a successful wedding. I'm stressed just reading all of your threats! Lawyer fees, breach of contract, writing a new contract, OMG! Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm trying to help you here, but put yourself in the brides position for a second. If you were the bride and the photographer said you breached the contract therefore you have to pay all of these extra fees would you hire this photographer? The bride can find a photographer anywhere, anytime, and at a days notice or less, perhaps for free on craigslist.
  43. Sorry Kay, I missed your post. I didn't see that you already called the bride and worked things out. I'm glad to hear that.
  44. Even though everything is worked out, remember that if you accept a post-dated check in some states, it is an admittance that you are accepting a check that you know is not good and you cannot go after them if it bounces.
  45. Over-lawyering a (comparatively) small deal involving a personal service contract to photograph a wedding = a recipe for more disputes, and more legal fees.
    This is life, which means (i) mistakes are made, and (ii) people sometimes are short of money. People occasionally miss a contract deadline, inadvertently or not. Checks can be mis-dated -- sometimes post-dated; sometimes dated last year -- again, inadvertently or not.
    A set up that requires you to pay legal fee$ for consultation and redrafting each time a problem arises may be a good thing for the lawyer (in the short run), but a bad thing for your business.
    Last thing: Cannot recommend posting here under your business name while suggesting that others (your clients) may be misbehaving.
    /s/ Ornery old lawyer
  46. I'm new to this forum, but I've been reading threads for a couple weeks now. There's a lot of great photographic advice to be had here. As for legal advice, looks to me that the legal advice in this photography forum is every bit as good as the photographic advice you'd get in any law forum.
    I'm glad to hear this particular situation has worked out well.
  47. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Interesting thread.

    Maybe I am a bit too relaxed, but, I've always worked with three payments or half and half. . . and as per Mary's point: the cussy never gets an eyacky at the pickies until they cough up the bickies –

    Translation: the Client does not get to view any previews until final payment is made.

    As for cheques: Banks here ARE very fussy. A post-dated cheque would never make it through the system nor would one with the "Pay To" name incorrectly spelled, incomplete or altered (like with a different pen) - however banking laws and bank's liabilities regarding cheques and their clearance, might be different from country to country.

    As for, mistakes clients make, making assumptions, extra contracts, lawyers, e-mail correspondence and extra fees for breach and the like - many offered the same view, but Ian summed it up: "Phone them, be polite, explain and resolve." . . .

    Anything “extra” assumed, implied or mentioned will be / is a burden to your business and to your customer relations, not to mention your own stress level, which Bob has indeed already mentioned.

  48. If you think you had a problem getting payment just to do the shoot, just wait until you try to get paid for the prints and albums. Don't turn a thing over to them without payment in cash (get a counterfeit detection pen from Office Depot or Staples to check the currency they give you!)
  49. Is the chck from a local bank, or one were you can get to a branch soon? Ask the couple for a new check and cash it within the hour. If it works, excelent, go and shoot the wedding, if not, give up and hope they can find someone who will work for them for free.
    Dont tear up the check, it could win you a court caseif need be.
  50. Oh my &dei! I can't say I envy you wedding photographers one bit. Being a freelance IT consultant myself, I simply refuse to work with private customers. They don't understand business, they don't usually have the money and they expect miracles.
    I understand why this attitude doesn't work for wedding photography, but really, wouldn't just taking pictures of drying paint be more fun than all the hazzles I read about ;-)
  51. Maybe some of us are just fortunate, but we've never been burned. And like Mary and William W, we charge a 50% deposit at the signing of the contract and the other 50% on the day of - dad (or the groom) is generally prepared to write a bunch of checks that day anyway. No tickee no shirtee - if we're not paid that day, then we hold the photos until paid - simple.
  52. A check can be cashed when it is proferred, regardless of the date. Ask your banker.
  53. I did a wedding a few years ago that the couple paid for in advance. They also paid an additional fee for a hard copy proof book. They went off on their honeymoon and I would have the book ready when they returned. I got a call from the bride asking me to deliver the proof book to her mom. The mom went on to tell me that when they returned from the honeymoon they went their separate ways and are getting a divorce. They never asked for the Album and amazingly I actually received reprint orders from some of the relatives. That said you really need to get some kind of cash prepayment before the wedding day unless you are prepared to possibly not receive any compensation for your work for any reason. If you plan to post online be sure to take plenty of portraits and family shots of guest without the bride and groom and have information to hand out at the reception of how they can be seen and purchased.
  54. I shot wedding for years and the amount is due it is due that's it.
    People most of the time try to screw you on weddings fact.
    You must remember word of mouth will screw your business too.
    Ask for the money or you can't shoot there wedding.
    Reorders are the gravy of the business.
    Also don't give your hard work away
  55. Who does stuff like that? Customers. Lots of them are like that. Take the job, but don't do it until you have cashed their check. People like that are not always trustworthy and you don't want to take a chance of working for nothing. It happened to me several times until I clamped down. At least half to show up, the other half to get their proofs.
  56. I'm not a wedding photographer, just an outside observer. I can't help wondering why the service has to be paid for before the service is rendered. And why is that stipulation even in the contract? I know I don't usually pay for things, services or goods, until after I receive the service or goods. Why is it different in wedding photography? Thanks.
  57. I actually only ask for 20% up front. I like getting the nice big check the day of.
    I make sure I have enough to cover the film and processing... and with my prices, that was more than enough.
    Like Jeffrey, I also don't believe in asking for payment before I show up. What if something happens to me? I also don't worry and never had to worry about getting paid. I hold something very very dear to these couples... the treasured photos... I've even worked out a deal with a few couples I liked that where having trouble making ends meat where they paid 20%, 50% the day of and 50% upon delivery of prints. Like I said - I never ever got burned. I DO think you should get paid the day off.. but there I preferred to be paid at the end of my day. There were couples who preferred to pay in advance and or at the beginning of the day but that was up to them.
  58. However, We should all keep in mind that people do things differently and there are not any wrong answers.
  59. I would hire you Mary in a heartbeat. Conversely, I would be very suspicious of someone who was so fanatically concerned about getting paid even before rendering a service. I can't imagine that any consumer would feel differently.
  60. Howdy!
    Mary's right, there is no wrong answer. But I get the money ahead of time, for three reasons:
    1. I hate asking people for money on their wedding day.
    2. I want everything out of the way so that everyone can focus on the wedding.
    3. I've had checks bounce. Not from malice mind you, but weddings are expensive, and sometimes people don't realize that they're overextended.
    I also prefer credit card transactions rather than checks, for reason number 3.
  61. Well, it seems to me that some ways of doing business are "more right" than others (since we're being tactful here).
  62. Actually, I would cash it now. My bank told me it's against the law to date a check like that (at least in NM). It's supposed to be payable on demand. Failing that I wouldn't shoot the wedding. They violated your verbal agreement. A post dated check is not payment. Period.
  63. Howdy!
    My version of "right" comes from trying many different ways of doing business over many years, and learning what works best for me and my customers.
    I do not require final payment until two weeks before the date, and I give full refunds (including the deposit) for any of The Three "D"'s:
    1. Death - Heaven forbid somebody close to the bride and groom passes away and the wedding must be postponed or cancelled.
    2. Disability - Not as bad as number one, but still bad.
    3. Duty to Country - Back when people were having their Iraq tours extended, this popped up quite often.
    Otherwise, I keep the deposit.
  64. I ask for full payment one month in advance for Paul's reason #1, I hate asking for a check at the wedding. I know it's standard, but I just feel awkward. I explain that to the couple at the initial consultation. If they forget, we take care of it at the wedding, but I don't stress about it.
    Also, one of my "things" is posting a preview of the wedding within 24 hours (usually that night) and adding a photo or two to facebook and tagging the couple. Most of my couples love that and tell me that they checked them out while on the honeymoon. It also drives people to my site right away. The facebook comments are nice to read too :) I wouldn't do that if I was waiting for a check to clear.
  65. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I also prefer credit card transactions rather than checks"
    Me too. There is a thread here: about payment TYPES. As I mentioned in that thread, Banks here are fastidious about Cheque Clearances, because as I understand it is the bank which is wholly liable.
    "like . . . William W, we charge a 50% deposit at the signing of the contract and the other 50% on the day of"
    Later on I found that three payments was a better structure for my business: I played with many combinations, like: 30% non refundable / 60% on the day or before / 10% for preview album or viewing . . . whatever the structure, be it two or three payments the leverage is that nothing is handed over until the final payment is made. I found there weren’t any customers that did not understand and appreciate this concept.
    I think the manner in which things are explained beforehand and at a face to face meeting is important. Even for those who do not meet the client beforehand, a telephone conversation, timed correctly (not during the client's work hours) can achieve this understanding, I think emails (the written word generally) is limiting and is open to too much misinterpretation - just look at the misinterpretation mishaps forum threads often have :)
  66. Sam, why would you have to ask for payment on the day of the wedding? Everything is done on the day of the wedding? All the prints are completed and the service has been fulfilled? As an impartial observer, it just seems as if getting paid supercedes everything, even completing the "project." It strikes me as unnecessary stress that the couple has to endure: "What if the photographer doesn't come through and we already paid him?"
  67. I believe you'll find that all other vendors are paid Prior To the wedding day. The family does not go around passing out checks, in our area, on the wedding day.
    The venues are paid ahead.
    The food is paid ahead.
    The flowers are paid before being delivered.
    The cake is paid in advance.
    The dj, in our area, are paid ahead.
    Why not the photographer?
    Couples may, of course, try to get away with not paying in advance ... you gotta' love America: they can ask. But, I can ask to be paid in advance as well; I can put it in my contract and they can hire me or not. Free Enterprise rocks!
  68. William, thanks for the heads up: I wasn't aware that all those other goods and services were paid in advance. It sounds like there's something wrong with the entire wedding racket and not just the photographers.
    I just know if I have my car repaired, I don't pay for the parts in advance, I don't leave a deposit, and I don't pay for anything until the work is completed to my satisfaction. And that's how it should be.
  69. William pretty much summed it up, it's just how some people do things. Most of the vendors I know get paid ahead of time. As I said, I feel it just makes things smoother on the wedding day to not get paid at the wedding. The bride and groom, parents, best man, etc. all have enough things to do than to go around passing out checks. What if the best man has it and gets too drunk to function? What if dad's check bounces and I've already done all the work- I have a preview up the next day and the rest within two weeks. I may have posted all the images before the bank informs me of the problem by mail.
    My contract states that the deposit and payments are non-refundable unless the photographer cancels. So if something happens to me and I can't be there they get all their money back. If anyone doesn't like that policy, they don't have to hire me.
    many people ask to pay me even earlier just to get things squared away. If you've never been married, there are a LOT of details to manage. The less you have to worry about on the wedding day, the better.
  70. By the way Jeffrey, my car's in the shop right now and I paid a $500 deposit even though everything is 100% covered by insurance. I've also had work done where the estimated cost was due in advance.
    To call the wedding business a racket is insulting. We provide goods and services to people on a very important day of their lives. Every couple has the option to go to the courthouse, fill out some paperwork, and get married by a JP, judge, or clerk of the court. There is nothing in the books that says a single vendor has to be hired. People choose who their vendors are and as vendors, we can choose how to run our businesses.
    There is no right answer to how to handle payment. I'm sure that if your fiance wanted to hire XYZ Photography but they required full payment in advance, you wouldn't tell her "no" because of it.
  71. Sam, "racket" is an unfortunate choice of words, maybe "business practices" is apt. I would have been insulted too. Sorry.
    I don't think you should have had to put down a $500 deposit to have work done on your car. I would go elsewhere, just me, but I suppose being in business yourself, and operating similarly, you were sympathetic.
    And you're correct that you have a right to run your business as you see fit just as I have a right to avoid your business if it seems unfit.
    There are two sides to this story and I'm speaking strictly as a consumer hoping to offer to offer something to the discussion, FWIW. People going through a wedding process seem vulnerable to me. JMHO, FWIW.
  72. I'll betcha' anything you paid for your "new" car before they let you drive it home, right?
    I ask the bridal couple to pay for their new photos before I let them take 'em home. They've inspected my work and see that I give a quality product in the style they like: so they by my "model" of photography and pay for it and await the delivery since it's not currently on the showroom floor.
    smiles... it's a good thing. You order something on-line in dozens of locations with your credit card: you pay for it All ahead of getting the product. Take alook around you in life and you'll see it's actually very very common.
  73. I agree with William.
    When you go to a movie, you pay before seeing the film.
    When you go to the doctor, you pay a co-pay before getting seen.
    I could go on and on. I require a 50% deposit to reserve your date and the balance on the day of the wedding or before.
  74. I just know if I have my car repaired, I don't pay for the parts in advance, I don't leave a deposit, and I don't pay for anything until the work is completed to my satisfaction. And that's how it should be.​
    So, your auto mechanic lets you take your car home before you pay for it? Doubt it. Of sourse wedding vendors require up front payment. After the wedding the flowers are wilted, the food is eaten, the cake is eaten, etc., etc..
  75. Maybe you guys are right about upfront payments. I'll have to chew on this a little more, FWIW. I'm glad I brought this up because it's making me re-assess my position. Good luck with your businesses! Thanks.
  76. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Maybe you guys are right about upfront payments. I'll have to chew on this a little more,"
    Many things are paid for in advance. There are also subtle differences throughout the world as to what is and what is not paid in advance.
    Where I work, Australia, it is common practice for example, if one is building a swimming pool to have staggered, progress payments, usually five. This is common in all building trades for large amounts (usually over $2,000), and it is, I understand legislated somewhat.
    This is where I got the idea about three payments for my Wedding Photography, that and the fact that the client base I served were accustomed to this style of payment – it was simple to explain that the first payment was a non refundable deposit to secure a particular date, exclusively for their Wedding (Note: “Non Refundable Deposit” has a legal meaning, here.)
    This three payment system actually was quite profitable for my business:
    > my prospects understood that they were NOT paying for me “In Advance” – which all my competition insisted upon.
    > even though it was a small amount of the total money the Client held, until they were given the preview album (or later, arrived for the viewing), they felt it gave them some leverage over me, to perform to an appropriate standard.
    > on the other hand, I also had leverage over the client, because I did not hand over the photos until the final payment was made – and should they have “done a runner” the last payment was small enough such that my expenses were adequately covered.
    Also, if we want to take a purely business approach, then whilst you are chewing on this issue, consider how many items our Photography Businesses pay for in advance: Rent; Insurance; (some) loan interest; Equipment hire; credit card inserted into the drive through car wash . . . and so on . . . even the coins into a pay phone, now that is a really old example . . . are there any pay phones remaining?
    I agree with William Morgan, 100%, MOSTLY ALL costs associated with a Wedding are paid in advance, and also where I live, for the clients I serve, very few items are paid for ON THE WEDDING DAY, that would be considered “gross”: so, for my business it was simply a matter of adapting a plan which was easily explained to, understood by, and with which the Clients were comfortable. When I started my business, the norm in our industry was: either 100% up front or 50% / 50% both payments prior . . . I was quite chuffed when I devised what became a much better plan for my business, but three payments will not suit all businesses.
    This topic in its various guises has been discussed on this forum many times. Invariably it gets sidetracked into a discussion about the moral issues of paying for something beforehand: that is not an issue at all – paying pro forma; making a deposit and part payments; paying a fee to hold a spot - are commonplace in many markets, all around the world.
    The question for each Wedding Photographers is to refine these common payment methods, to best suit their individual business.
  77. Appreciate the education William. The payment is issue is just not as simple as I was making it out to be, from an uneducated consumer's viewpoint. Not only do consumers have to protect themselves, but photographers do too.
    I was definitely putting myself in the client's shoes. I mean the client had to endure all this wrangling over money and not even a lick of photography was done. Then came threats of breaking the contract, and legal fees, and lawyers, etc. It would make me want to run as fast as I could.
  78. William Morgan "I'll betcha' anything you paid for your "new" car before they let you drive it home, right?"​
    Well, no. The Lexus dealer let me take a car home for the night and drive it fully hoping that I would purchase the vehicle. The vehicle was in fact the vehicle that I was considering purchasing. It was not a demo.
  79. Hi Raymond ... So a premium car dealer or two make your case eh. Interesting limitation.
    Easy to upstage the car dealer (but the comparison is less than stellar, imo): I can show a bridal couple over 20 of my recent weddings (all image files!) and they will see the photographs taken from beginning to end. They won't have just a view "for the night" but instead they can see the consistency of my record over an extensive time period. None of the photos in all the wedding galleries are Demo photos; they're the real deal. You ride in one car that will be yours and you drive it on the same streets you drive all the time while I can show that my product will "drive" great on any "terrain" that I'm given and it can handle any weather or situation at hand. Can your Lexus go off road?
    I can't test drive a wedding before the wedding; it's hard to test drive something that occurs in the future but I can "demonstrate" that I can handle any situation I'm given and not be limited to a smooth drive over the same terrain that I drive almost daily. Your comparison is truly lacking, imo ... but, I'm jealous you're buying a Lexus so quite your bragging (wink).
    I will substitute giving a bridal couple more than twenty full weddings to visually "test drive" and they'll see that I can easily handle streets as well as any off road situations or weather: now that's more than an overnight test ride on familiar streets in my book. (smile).
    Have fun with that car Raymond but do keep it on those nice smooth streets or you'll find it's just another box with four tires and a great disappointment anywhere but that easy going smooth sailing road or street.
  80. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I was definitely putting myself in the client's shoes. . . It would make me want to run as fast as I could."

    Yes, Jeffrey, I think this is an excellent point.

    I think that many businesses (including W&P Photographers) do not think of this each time they have a new prospect at their door . . .

    It is easy for a Vendor to get into a rut, accepting what "normal business practice": when the prospective customer might be ignorant of what is actually "the norm" and how the whole mechanism functions.

    By the time the Prospect is educated and realizes what common practice is, they have usually moved on to Photographer number three and Cake Maker number four . . . if you get my point.

  81. Exactly what Tobey said.
  82. William, in a sense, I should understand the business person's plight, especially in the current climate. I have a rental property that's currently vacant, a condo to be exact. Prior to the collapse of the economy, I had no problem leasing it at a very reasonable price. Now, folks are coming through and making these incredibly low-ball offers that are insulting, really, considering the fairness of the amount of rent I ask for. And it angers me too considering that even though the economy is not great, the people who are working are doing fine, and ironically even better than before since the cost of goods and fuel has deflated. The reality is that people have the money but they are afraid to spend it, so instead they will try to squeeze a guy like me all the while crying poverty.
    My point, in a round-about-way, is that I can just imagine the kind of games people must be playing in dealing with wedding photographers. If they have a difficult time ponying-up a more than fair rental fee, how much more difficult it must be for them to pay for things like photography, so I can see why small business folk/ entrepreneurs must keep their guard up. Best wishes, and thanks!
  83. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Best wishes, and thanks!" to you too.

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