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what would you have done.

jsteltingjstelting Member
edited August 2013 in wedding photography
I booked a wedding over 6 months ago for 8/25. The bride's mom paid me in full for everything including 2 albums.
About 2 months ago the bride called and told me the wedding was cancelled and wanted a full refund, paid to her not her mom. I reminded her that my contract has a no refund clause and that she had signed this and was made fully aware of it. She acknowledged this but still wanted a refund. When I told her that any refund would go to her mom, since she was the one that paid me, she dropped the refund issue. I got the feeling that she just wanted to pocket the money.

Now. the day before the wedding was to take place I get a VM informing me that the wedding was back one. This phone call was less than 24 hours before the wedding was originally scheduled.

When I listened to the VM I was at another wedding that I booked after she cancelled hers, as I don't like doing back to back weddings.

She also told me when I called her that she has known the wedding was back on for over a week but hadn't called me, saying since I paid you in full I didn't think it would be a big deal.

Would you do her wedding? Would you tell her that since she cancelled the wedding and waited until the very last minute to call me that I couldn't do her wedding?


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited August 2013
    Considering that I am not legal council or a judge or magistrate, or have any legal knowledge other than what appears fair and right ... and admittedly *that* concept of fairness often has little bearing on legal matters .... well, all that said, here is how I see it:

    I can't imagine a judge in a small claims court listening to your case, and NOT deciding that:
    1. Since she paid you for the date, you are legally obliged to deliver services on the date (notwithstanding that she cancelled.)
    2. If you took on another job on the day, it frees up her money that she paid you for the services on this day.

    A deposit (and other funds) are seen as money that is paid to you for services on the day. THe reason why we have a deposit specifically, is that we only have ONE day on that specific day .... we can't divvy out multiples of the same day ... so if someone books the day, we have to block it off. And to prove they are serious, they pay a deposit.

    And the reason why we can insist (although even this has been trashed in small claims court), that we can keep the deposit, is because with your client booking you for the day, they are stopping you from "selling the day again".

    So now that you've "sold" this day again, there is no real argument that would hold up in court that you can keep the deposit. You're not out of pocket anymore for "losing the day" / "blocking the day out".

    So there's MY take on it.
    As I said, it is entirely my opinion, based on what I think a small claims court would see as being fair.
    Right now, you're either obliged to return the money, or shoot their wedding.

    (That said, your client is an arse.)
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Well that's precisely why I don't have a 'Deposit' per se, because a 'Deposit' implies it can be refunded.

    I have a contract but I charge a $500 'Booking Fee' [it does come off the price of whatever they choose] and I had it vetted by 2 lawyers here, and once paid, and as long as the contract is signed, they default that fee.

    I state it clearly and concisely on my Invoice, on the FAQ sheet they get with the Package pricing when they inquire, and I also verbally tell them.

    However, Neil has the point [once again, just an Australian giving an opinion] that since you had taken on another contract to fill that position vacated by the bride, and it was paid in full for a service you now cannot provide [I most *certainly would not* take her back on] and give her Mother the dough back.

    There is also maybe a small concession here worth a try, depending on what service you are to provide for this new booking and that is you may not make as much money, so you may take a chance and keep whatever the 'initial' Deposit would be, but probably in the long run it would be worth it to shut the bitch up and give her mother the money back.

    Taking on another wedding when you were firmly told they were cancelling then having her give you 24 hours notice, what a crock of ....

    Do let us know what happens, this is interesting case to learn from.

    I had a wedding cancelled on me only 3 weeks back, and she knew she was going to cancel me when I spoke to her a week prior at a bridal show, never told me, and yep, you guessed it, I had a chance for a booking on that day but knocked it back because of her booking.

    When she rang [she decided she could not afford all the package so went 'phone a friend' for a lousy outlay which she can pay off] and told me I told her there was no way she was getting the $500 Booking Fee back, and she accepted that no qualms at all.

    See a lawyer re calling it a ' NON-Refundable Booking Fee' for future reference.

    Although it's a tad late now and probably as Neil says, over there in a small claims court you would lose.
  • I'm going to shoot the wedding but not feeling really good about everything that has happened.
  • Hope the wedding went well.

    You really had no choice but to shoot it since you had not returned the deposit. There's no way you could have said you were keeping their money but were too exhausted from a wedding the day before to shoot their wedding.

    My guess is the wedding was never off. They wanted to look for a cheaper photographer (or had found one) and simply didn't want to use you after all. The wedding was suddenly back on when they decided it was too much trouble to try to get their money back. Perhaps the bride called seeking the refund instead of mom because mom has more scruples and told her daughter if she wants to lie to the photographer she's on her own.
  • There's also the goodwill and reputation aspect to consider:

  • Well....the wedding got off to a rocky start........ the venue was definitely not one I would ever suggest. It was held at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs. Google it and you'll see what I mean. It's mainly a tourist location. Lots of water and mud on the ground so the brides white dress didn't stay white on the bottom very long. Also, very small location for guests to sit since there are lots of tourists there at same time and area cannot be closed to wedding party.

    Reception held at a local brew pub/restaurant on the 3rd floor which was closed off to non guests. They had book room for 80 guests and paid for 80 dinners but only about 30 showed up. I think this was mainly due to the cancelling no it's back on issue.

    All in all not bad afternoon.

    In my opinion I don't see how a small claims judge could rule against me since my contract specifically states NO REFUNDS on the deposits and I make the person signing the contract inital right next to this paragraph. As for not wanting to do this wedding after shooting one the day before I don't think has any bearing. Giving me less than 24 hours notice (actually it was more like 12 hours notice) was the big issue to me. And that she knew the wedding was back on over a week ago but didn't think about calling me would of hurt her case too.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2013

    Apologies, I was under the impression that you had taken on another wedding the same day, therefore my post, as I think Neil thought the same thing also as I had read his post, re "sold this day again" section.

    I misread the post re you said "another wedding that I booked after she cancelled hers" thinking once she cancelled you were lucky enough to get another job the same day, as in back to back on same day; but after re-reading it I now realise you were "at" another wedding when the call come in and had back to back, as in 2 days in a row, my apologies for reading quickly and seeing Neil's post 'confirmed' that was what happened.

    Glad it went well after all and you have to look at it from the point of you made money.

    As I said in my post, if here in Australia 'Deposit' infers it can be paid back, but I am sure glad you did not have to test the contract.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Aaaah, I did misread that. Sorry.
    That does change things a bit.
  • Yeah that changes everything. I had a cancellation and I requested an email so I had a record just in case. You never know with people. I suspect that she withheld telling you until 24 hrs before the event because you would not give her the refund. People can get really weird when things are not going well for them.

    If you did not have some type of documentation that you could use as evidence in court after they tried to sue you for not shooting the wedding you made the right choice. Even with all the I's dotted and T's crossed who needs the headache. You get a bad one from time to time.
  • I've had it twice were the Bride tells me the wedding is off and can she have her money back, once I tell her no, the couple have miraculously made up and the wedding is back on ! I would think its almost always a case of finding cheaper elsewhere. I do get tired of quoting John Ruskin :-)
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