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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old May 26th, 2005, 09:15 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 382
Setting up a payment schedule

How do you guys work your payments from clients? 50% up front, remaining 50% at delivery? Deposit, remainder paid at the day of the event? All at once? Monthly payment plans?

Are there any payment methods/structures that are frowned upon or immediately come off as being unprofessional?
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Old May 26th, 2005, 09:51 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 24
We do 1/3 nonrefundable retainer due with the contract. Remaining balance due 30 days prior.

Whatever works for you. To me, 50% seems steep up front, but I don't know what your average pkg. price is. Also, is this nonrefundable?

Over the years we've tried several different schedules, this one works the best for me and my nerves. (I can't take the anxiety of late payments - it drives me crazy.)
Jenn M
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:46 AM   #3
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Location: Maryland, USA
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Thanks, I appreciate it!

Anyone else? I'm trying to find out if it's more common to have partial payment before hand and then the balance upon delivery, or some sort of payment schedule paid in full prior to the wedding date itself - as Jennifer suggested (thx!). That's definitely along the lines of what I'm thinking is appropriate.

I feel that the balance upon delivery method (I have a client pushing for it) is a bad idea. It's standard practice for other aspects of video and post-production pro work (which is the clients background - where there are also bigger budgets and everything generally costs more), but I don't think it's appropriate for wedding videography. The assignment isn't done in installments, payment really shouldn't be handled that way (in terms of payment upon delivery).

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Old May 27th, 2005, 07:41 AM   #4
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Location: Tulsa, OK
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Hi Patrick,

We do $400 to reserve the date. It is a non-refundable retainer. Then half of the remaining balance 3 months before the wedding, which is also non-refundable.

The remaining balance is due after the wedding, but prior to the edit. If we have not received payment by the time we are getting close to the edit we contact the client and let them know their payment is due. If they are unable to pay, we go on to the next wedding and when they are able to make payment, we then do their edit.

In the past we had the remaining balance due upon delivery, but it really hurt our cash flow. We would count on getting the payment when the edit was finished and then many times it would be 2-4 weeks before the Bride would pickup her video, but in the meantime we had bills due.

It is important to have the payment scheduled clearly defined in the contract, so there are no surprises for the client.
Mark Von Lanken
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Old May 27th, 2005, 09:16 AM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
We have gone with 20% to hold the date, another 50% any time one week prior to the wedding date, and the remaining 30% upon delivery. I think that is a 'fair' way to set up a payment schedule, and much more similar to the payment schedule you would see if you hired another service in a non-wedding context. Personally, I think there are many unfair practices in the wedding industry that many people get away with simply because the couple has little choice. I really don't agree with that, and we try to run our business accordingly. We are relatively new but it has been received very well. The conversation of ethics in the context of money and payments usually doesn't occur but it is something to think about.

With out policy, we have many couples who pay the full 70% upfront without being asked. We haven't had any problems as of yet with receiving that final payment. I do agree with Mark that it is good to be able to know exactly when cheques will be coming in, and we manage this by having a very tight editing schedule and we guarantee the couple will receive their wedding video on a certain date. So far it has worked very well and been received very well.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 09:26 AM   #6
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 134

What i use for my clients (mostly corporate, but it works well for individuals as well) is similar to marks approach: I will send them an invoice for 25% upon signing, another 25% once filming/production is complete, and then the balance upon delivery.

With the invoicing based upon the completion of specific project steps (signing, filming, final delivery), the client doesn't have to worry that we've taken their $$$$ and ran off with it since we'll only get paid for the work we've done. This also additionally adds to peace of mind on their end since they have the option of opting not to pay for something they don't like instead of having pre-paid for everything - then again Iíve never experienced that yet! :-)

I've also liked this approach since this creates a predictable cash stream - Iíve noticed that if I get all the money up front, it gets spent quicker, pre-paid projects take a little longer to complete, and there is just something satisfying about handing off the end product and being handed the check!

Just my 2 cents
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Old June 13th, 2005, 11:03 AM   #7
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Location: St. Louis MO
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In my contract 25% is a non refundable retainer 25% is due at least 6 weeks in advance and the other 50% is due no later than 2 weeks in advance to make sure the check clears. Unlike other industries we know exactly what time frame we are looking at and the costs involved, our time is money because that is what we provide as our service. We are all doing this to try to make money and I won't waste my whole Sat shooting footage and 30 or often more hours editing it with 50% of the money up in the air and possibly not getting it all. Thats a long work week I can't lose. I have done my best to let them know up front when they will recieve the finnished copy and need to live up to that deadline, once I'm paid, I feel more comfortable with the whole situation and can relax and shoot the best wedding I can, if they are not happy with it for some reason after the fact, we can talk about possible solutions.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 09:22 PM   #8
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Location: Long Branch NJ
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I get $ 300.00 as a deposit and the rest is due the day of the event. Offcourse they have been times that I had to wait and extra 30 min(at the ebd of the night) to get my pay, but so far I never had problems.
All though I had canselation the two years (one on each year) that makes me think that the deposit should be bigger.

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