Wedding canceled. Hmm...

Wow, my wedding season has sure flown by, and now it will fly by even faster.

My last wedding of the year, in October, just canceled. I've never had this happen in the 7 years I've been doing this, so I guess that is good. And I'm glad they decided this before they actually tied the knot. I give them credit for that. I'm really bummed for myself (selfishly..) because this was the wedding at a Greek Orthodox church in St. Louis and the reception at a huge ballroom. Ah well...

Now my dilemma is this. I don't have it written into my contract anywhere about cancellations and refunding money. What do you think I should do?

They put down a 30% deposit to save the date. Part of me feels like I should give half of it back, but at the same time, booking me is like a contract in itself. When I book people, I turn down people. Most likely I won't be able to find a wedding to replace it, and I know I turned down some weddings because I had already booked this one. And I did take a lot of time to do their engagement photos.

As a bride, what would you want? As a photographer, what would you do? As friends, what would you tell me?

Apparently I don't know my contract as well as I should. At the end of one section I have "Deposit is nonrefundable in the event of cancellation", and since that is what this is, I don't owe them money. Well, that's good. But I do feel badly for them, and all the money they are probably out of. They had some pretty pricey things books. Oh, that's just not good. Not good at all.


Jennifer said...

I would say from now on put that in the contract, just in case!!

Seriously, have they asked for a refund? If not I don't know what I'd do. If you have already done work as part of this contract then wouldn't that 30% be needed to cover those costs?

I guess if they questioned it I'd give half, kind of unwillingly since you've turned down jobs AND already done some of the work for them. B

But I'd also work on putting it into a contract for the future. Maybe set a determined minimum deposit for everyone, that would be refunded no matter what if within so many days before the ceremony, like 45 days? I don't know I'm thinking how our vacation plans work LOL!!

Good luck!

Now I'm curious, did they call off the whole wedding or just you as a photographer?

a wandering heart said...

I sent my SIL a link to your post; as a fellow photographer, she might have some insight, or at least be able to tell you their policy.

Artsy Momma said...


So I had the opposite happen, my photographer cancelled on me. And he sent back my deposit. If I would have cencelled on him (which I may have had to do anyway!) I wouldnt have expected my deposit back.

Though I agree with the first comment, I would strongly suggest you put it in your contract for legal reasons really.

I would only cross the bridge if and when they approach you in regards to it.

Caslon said...

hi. I'm wandering hearts sister in law and am part of dotson-studios. Me and my husband are photographers. We recently had a wedding postponed and talked about what happens if they cancel and I can tell you how we have this set up in our contract.
A deposit should be nonrefundable. This is normal for most things. Our deposit covers any costs we may have before the wedding - including engagement costs. The remainder for us is due within 30 before the wedding and if we have someone cancel within those 30 days they owe us the full amount. This is because it would be very difficult to re-book that date.
I would recommend you definitly keep the deposit. If they ask for it back then tell them it was nonrefundable and goes toward costs already accrued. So be the wedding is not until October I wouldnt bill them for the remainder since you still might ne able to book it and its a few months out.
Cancelling a wedding is an expensive decision and you will not be the only vendor that tells them they have lost their deposit so dont feel bad.
I would also recommend you adjust your contact to include what happens if either they cancel or you have to cancel. We would never cancel on a bride but emergencies do happen so if we are unable to offer our services we have a network of other photographers of similar style that we would hire and coordinate with.
I hope this helps. Best of luck and I hope you re-book the date.

it's me, Val said...

Thanks, Sara! I appreciate you taking the time to help me :)

I was posting an update about the same time you were posting your comment ;)

I do have it written in my contract and I guess did not realize it because this has never happened . . and it's been a while since I've read that thing. I like your 30 days prior with the remaining amount. I do 2 weeks right now. it's all good to know -- thanks again!

oh amanda said...

Your contract sounds right to me! If it seems unreasonable to you now that you've actually experienced it, you could change it. But I think it sounds normal.

And yeah, thank goodness they backed out now instead of afterwards. But still...sad.

Missy!! said...

I agree... you have time and money in them already. As for them (I've never priced a divorce or anything..) I have a feeling they got out cheap if all they lose is deposit and dress money.. it isn't like lawyer fees... losing half of your stuff.. etc. Besides.. it happens! :)

lil ole' me..... said...

I am glad you had that written in your contract because I thought you should keep the deposit. Everything regarding weddings has that stipulation.

I really wanted to see those pictures too, darn it.