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Old June 6th, 2013, 12:27 PM   #16
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

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Originally Posted by Ryan James View Post
I tried requesting "payment in full before the date" on one contract I sent out - as a tester... and didn't hear back from them for weeks. They had been very keen and ready to go, so I was confused. When I followed it up, they said it was that condition that worried them so they weren't sure what to do - pay or find someone else?

I get where they're coming from in fairness - I'd be wary of paying upfront for work that has yet to be done. After some re-assurance they agreed to pay 30% up front with the balance on the day - which is what my contracts for Weddings all are now, with final amount due on/before day of wedding.

But, editing won't start until full payment received - so if they want the film by the end of the honeymoon, they need to pay on the day - cash, credit card, cheque (but no edit starts until cheque clears my account!). Avoids any messing on the day.
Safest way to do it is 25% deposit, 50% on the week of the wedding (or on the day, handed to you in an envelope in the morning), 25% when the films are ready to post.

You can't do better than that to be fair ... any other way your setting yourself up to get burnt or creating doubts/trust issues.

In terms of taking them to court ... I wouldn't bother. They will slag you off which will effect business in the future. No thanks to facebook / twitter and online forums.

I always feel as if my contract is there to protect ME incase THEY decide to go to court because I messed up something. So I clearly have clauses written on it ... it's more of an agreement rather than contract.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 02:30 PM   #17
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

We do 50% up front and 50% a week before the wedding. I've never had an issue with a bride not being willing to pay. It must be based, partly, on the region you are in.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 02:56 PM   #18
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

My contract had full payment before the wedding.

I did have a bride cancel in the same manner like 2 days before the wedding. She said she didn't have the money and she was going to do without video.

I did not believe a word she said as this was all in email anyway.

So the church was about 2 miles from my studio, so i drove over as the guest were arriving and low and behold there was another video guy. Actually a guy that i knew. So i asked him when did he book this wedding, and he told me 3 weeks prior. So I thought to myself, great, he just made easy money for me.
The guy she hired was a real nice guy with the most antiquated equipment you ever seen. He had very little experience and was just trying to make a buck. Type of guy that shoots 5 year old parties at Chucky Cheese, but a real nice guy.

So I was prepared to leave and all of a sudden the bride's limo pulls up. So I got out of sight and just waited, As she got to the entrance of the church, I looked at her, said congratulations, and asked her to call me when she got back from her honeymoon.

She did call me, we did some wrangling over a period of a couple of weeks and then she finally sent the check in about 2 1/2 months after the wedding.

That said I would enforce my contract to the fullest. If you shoot weddings you make money off the calendar, and she blew a hole in your calendar.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 05:47 PM   #19
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

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My contract had full payment before the wedding.

I did have a bride cancel in the same manner like 2 days before the wedding. She said she didn't have the money and she was going to do without video.

I did not believe a word she said as this was all in email anyway.

So the church was about 2 miles from my studio, so i drove over as the guest were arriving and low and behold there was another video guy. Actually a guy that i knew. So i asked him when did he book this wedding, and he told me 3 weeks prior. So I thought to myself, great, he just made easy money for me.
The guy she hired was a real nice guy with the most antiquated equipment you ever seen. He had very little experience and was just trying to make a buck. Type of guy that shoots 5 year old parties at Chucky Cheese, but a real nice guy.

So I was prepared to leave and all of a sudden the bride's limo pulls up. So I got out of sight and just waited, As she got to the entrance of the church, I looked at her, said congratulations, and asked her to call me when she got back from her honeymoon.

She did call me, we did some wrangling over a period of a couple of weeks and then she finally sent the check in about 2 1/2 months after the wedding.

That said I would enforce my contract to the fullest. If you shoot weddings you make money off the calendar, and she blew a hole in your calendar.
Cringeworthy scenario, but your absolutely right. Time is money. You could of done another wedding on that date ...
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Old June 6th, 2013, 06:11 PM   #20
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

And worth a trip to the venue to document the actual situation - would be very awkward before a judge to have hired someone else like that, sort of blow out any "sob story" if that were the case! I'm shocked thatt anyone would be so crass...

@ Peter -
If it's REALLY about the money, offer a payment plan and be the nice guy - but since the "client" is avoiding you, I'd make a trip by the venue to scope out whether there's more to the story.... if there is a video guy there, then it would be gloves off, IMO. Money is tight, but screwing over a vendor at the last minute is pretty low...
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Old June 6th, 2013, 06:28 PM   #21
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

Pete, all the advice for how you should take payments for future weddings may well be fine for the future, but don't help with this one.

My advice would be to write a very sympathetic letter or email to the couple saying that you understand their difficulties, but that the cancelling of the wedding will put you into financial difficulty as it is your living and you have your own bills to pay. Also point out that your contract is the only way that you can protect your income and that it is a legal document that they have signed. You could suggest that they could perhaps make you staged payments over an agreed period as it is a difficult time for them and that if they are definitely not going ahead with the video, that you would be prepared to offer a reduction of £xxx as a sign of good faith. This will also save the pain of a court case and the extra cost to them of legal fees on top of your contracted price if there is no settlement agreement.

Strangely, I have just this week had a situation where I have filmed the wedding and the Bride then sent me an email to say that she is really sorry, but parents were going to pay for it and they have now refused. They have no money to pay themselves, so they don't know what to do. I reminded them that they had signed the contract and offered them staged payments and have just had a very relieved message back to say that they are absolutely delighted and pleased that I have been able to help them have their video.

Sometimes a firm word combined with a sympathetic approach can be effective and if there is time, your bride might still agree to go ahead as it will cost her anyway.

Roger
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Old June 6th, 2013, 07:09 PM   #22
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

If you have the payment term specified in the contract, you can take her to small claims court. It's really an easy to do.

If her cancellation is due to a death in the family, I will use the payment as credit for future booking.

Just my 2 cents :)
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Old June 6th, 2013, 08:26 PM   #23
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

Our contract requires a $500 depoisit at booking and full payment of the balance due two weeks before the wedding date. I have never had anybody question this or ask for any different terms.

Unless we got a last minute booking to replace a last minute cancellation the payments are non refundable.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 08:43 PM   #24
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
Pete, all the advice for how you should take payments for future weddings may well be fine for the future, but don't help with this one.

My advice would be to write a very sympathetic letter or email to the couple saying that you understand their difficulties, but that the cancelling of the wedding will put you into financial difficulty as it is your living and you have your own bills to pay. Also point out that your contract is the only way that you can protect your income and that it is a legal document that they have signed. You could suggest that they could perhaps make you staged payments over an agreed period as it is a difficult time for them and that if they are definitely not going ahead with the video, that you would be prepared to offer a reduction of £xxx as a sign of good faith. This will also save the pain of a court case and the extra cost to them of legal fees on top of your contracted price if there is no settlement agreement.

Strangely, I have just this week had a situation where I have filmed the wedding and the Bride then sent me an email to say that she is really sorry, but parents were going to pay for it and they have now refused. They have no money to pay themselves, so they don't know what to do. I reminded them that they had signed the contract and offered them staged payments and have just had a very relieved message back to say that they are absolutely delighted and pleased that I have been able to help them have their video.

Sometimes a firm word combined with a sympathetic approach can be effective and if there is time, your bride might still agree to go ahead as it will cost her anyway.

Roger
Roger ,
Your approach is a good one but I believe Peter said she canceled with 3 days to go and is not answering his calls or email. I think he is stuck.
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Old June 6th, 2013, 09:41 PM   #25
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

Hi Pete

Sadly Al is correct here ..you are essentially stuck if you cannot get hold of her apart from physically going to the wedding to demand your money.

Now, you already have 150 for the booking which she doesn't get back of course and you can politely ask for the 75% as per contract but you also have to weigh up the issues about her bad mouthing you cos you made her pay 75% for nothing (I know it's her fault but others on places like Facebook don't know that and she will play the victim here)

Probably a trade off is the only way to go here ...ask for your 75% and then if she gets nasty, negotiate as the loss of some funds here is preferable to being bad mouthed all over social media... hopefully she will pay as per contract and that will be the end of it. I do agree that she does owe you 75% ..it's in your contract but if she cannot afford to hire you any more how can she pay you 75%???

Oh well at the very worst..you have 150 and can take the day off!

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Old June 6th, 2013, 09:49 PM   #26
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

Around here it's typical to get a retainer of a certain amount with the paperwork and the balance at least 14 days prior to the event. Personally since I got burned 2 time almost 25 years ago I get 50% up front with the balance 30 days prior to the event. I also have a clause in my agreement that states in very clear terms the cancellation policy. In brief, if the event is cancelled more than 30 days before the event is scheduled, they lose the amount up to 50%. IOW, if they paid in after the 50% retainer, an additional amount I will refund the amount over the 50% retainer. If they cancel within the 30 day period prior to the event they lose. Period. That it all! There have been 2 times in the last 25 years that I made the decision to refund at least some if not all of the monies paid to me. In one case the wedding was called off on the day of because the bride caught the groom in a, say we say, compromising position with someone who was standing up in the wedding. In that case I did refund 25% of the money that was paid. It seemed to be the right thing to do. In the other case, the brides mother passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, 2 days before the wedding. In that case, I refunded all of her funds after offering to do the job on any other later date which while she was grateful for the offer she wasn't sure of how they were going to proceed. As it turned out they got married in a very small ceremony at the courthouse without a reception.
While I have it in my T&C what the policy is I am not a totally heartless person and any case is looked at of and by itself however I am in business and not in the habit of simply refunding money. I have the policy for a reason and am not adverse to sticking with it. I did have one other where the groom left the bride standing at the altar. Literally! He walked out of the ceremony stating he couldn't do this. After many tears and consultation with her family (the photog and I stood outside smoking many cigarettes-this was a few years ago before I quit smoking) the bride had asked us to come in and we stood like all the guests wondering what was going to happen. She said since she had already paid for the reception, the photog and the video let's go have a party. We did! I recorded the party, the photog did the same, the DJ played the music, people including the bride ate, drank and danced. I gave her a very nice product and she was happy with the results. At least as far as the video. I did not refund any money although had I been asked I might have refunded a small percentage because there was no ceremony but I was never asked.
Point to this is simple. You have a contract or service agreement with terms and conditions that hopefully cover cancellations, stick to it but use your best judgment. As for taking someone to court for money they were supposed to pay and didn't, well, you might have a hard time with that since the job was cancelled or at least your end of it. If you didn't do the work it would be hard to collect even with a signed contract. Let it go. Keep the money you received and move on. The bad publicity you might and probably would get isn't worth it!
Just my $.02 worth.
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Old June 7th, 2013, 01:49 AM   #27
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

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Keep the money you received and move on. The bad publicity you might and probably would get isn't worth it!
Just my $.02 worth.
Excellent advice Don. I have always said if you piss off one customer you then have to go out and do enough advertising to reach 10 other people to replace those people who your pissed off customer was going to turn away from you because of their "bad publicity".
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Old June 7th, 2013, 03:07 AM   #28
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

I really like the idea of turning up and checking - if somebody else has been given the job, then you have a public response to any bad mouthing, and something to back up any possible court action.
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Old June 7th, 2013, 03:24 AM   #29
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

I know it's her fault but others on places like Facebook don't know that and she will play the victim here

Just how much reach would social media have in a scenario like this though?

I don't participate in Facebook or Twitter - I'd rather gouge my own eyes out - but my understanding is that nothing the bride posts would be available to the general public unless she puts it in her profile and leaves that totally open. So the only people who would see her comments would be her relatively small circle of actual friends (pretend "friends" wouldn't even bother to read it). Some of these may misunderstand and others may understand only too well.

My point being I doubt the potential of seriously damaging comments on these media.

A blog post would be a different matter but then she would need a powerful blog anyway if she is going to get seen in numbers.

p.s. for those wondering how I survive without Facebook - well I have a vast website which scores highly in SEO on numerous search strings and makes SEO efforts via Facebook just look silly in comparison :- ) Yes it is possible. Bit like people not understanding how I can shoot stills and at the same time produce fully featured multicam videos :- )

Don't forget the clients insurance folks - not for this scenario but in general. It is very cheap for them and can pay out even in the event of a close family illness or tragedy impacting on the day. Just had one of these where the groom was taken seriously ill days before the wedding.

My payment terms have been retainer followed by balance in full 6 weeks before the wedding date for the past ten years and it works fine. Don't let your imagination get the better of you - the clients are likely to be familiar with far more onerous terms from their venue. At 6 weeks at least you have some chance of re-booking, or arranging something personal for you and your family to do instead.

You should always use the word retainer rather than deposit for your initial fee. The reason is that court cases on both sides of the ocean and beyond have otherwise found against the photographer / videographer because in their view nothing was supplied. A retainer is specifically a charge for reserving the date and therefore you have supplied something to the client. That is hard fact no matter how much you may dislike it.

Back to the original question. She isn't going to pay now or later for services she sees as not supplied. I'd be inclined to shoot it anyway on the basis that you will not touch the files until she does settle. Particularly if its potentially a good sample day.

Pete
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Old June 7th, 2013, 07:20 AM   #30
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Re: Bride cancels 3 days before wedding - what would you do?

good point about the word 'retainer' instead of 'deposit', although the word deposit is much more widely used.
In my service agreement i've tried to be fair so what i came up with was;
' The fee is €XXX.00. To execute this agreement, a payment of 50% of the total cost is required, at the time of signing. The remainder due no later than the day of the wedding.....'
So my thinking is that if they cancel, say, within a few days i've got 50% of the agreed payment. I do have a cancellation clause in the event that both me and the client are impacted by serious illness/death to us or our immediate families, that it nullifies the agreement, this can be invoked within 7 days of the event and all bets are off.
I wouldn't be at all pleased if they booked me then got another person to do it and try and wiggle out of the obligation.
I don't have a facebook account (been thinking about it ok) but I wouldn't underestimate the influence that social media such as facebook twitter etc. can have, especially where I am small urban/rural area South East Ireland
I would certainly agree with the bad publicity that a court case can have.
I really didn't understand the op about the photog causing his reputation to be tarnished tho!
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