Updated: Jul 1
You are running into the problem trying to get your wedding photography cancelled or postponed. You get so frustrated with the whole process and trying to look for the best solutions. If so, this article is for you!
We know the Pandemic has affected to everyone and everything around the Globe. As we are all going through the toughest time of human history, I understand the struggles and challenges that you are facing financially and emotionally planning your wedding during this crisis.
The wedding industry has been heavily affected since the Pandemic started. Numerous brides have been going through cancellations, rescheduling, family invites, venues postponing...etc and it is not an easy process because each vendor has their policy to abide.
Wedding photographers have been experienced the craziest time of their life since, including myself, especially those who had their calendar booked up 1 or 2 years in advance. Just imagine, 20 brides want to cancel or reschedule their weddings at the same time...I can tell you it is completely madness!
One of my friends who is a high-end wedding photographer in Columbus, Ohio. His price range is between 7K-15K a wedding on an average. His booked weddings are at 90+ mark a year. He had 12 weddings requesting cancellations and postponements within that 2 months period. Now you can see the loss of revenue I am talking about. It is humongous! Meanwhile, he still have to pay for his business expenses such as rent, insurance, bills, employees and etc... Therefore, many large and small businesses shut down during the Pandemic because they could not fulfill financial responsibilities without an income.
On the other hand, brides, I totally get your frustrations and worry! Many others have been freaking out and don't know what to do. However, they found that being panic and acting indelicately did not giving them the solutions that would solve this problem. Sometimes it could make it worse for both you and the photographers (who you felt in love with in the first place!).
Being a photographer, I have listened to both sides of view: the Couple's and the Photographer's. Here are a few tips that can eliminate uncertainties. They will make your journey less stressful and you can still have your dream wedding as planned!
Cancellation or Postponement?
First and foremost, talk to you fiance, your family and whoever you are seeking advice from to see whether you want to cancel or postpone your wedding day. Weigh the pros and cons. By analyzing deeply all the factors involved, I want you to ask yourself these questions:
What if I cancel my wedding, what is my back up plan?
Do I still want my wedding in the near future?
By answering these two questions, you will somewhat have an idea on what to do next.
Review Your Contract:
Now you have found out that you either want to cancel or postpone. You have to go back and read carefully your wedding photography contract. From there, you will look for the specific terms and policy on cancelation and postponing to see how flexible they are. What happens to the retainer? Can you get it back or how does it work? At this point you should have a clear understanding of the contract and see what options you have. Let's go to the next step.
You have gone through your contract. You have a clear understanding on how things work. There will be two scenarios:
First scenario, cancellation policy is flexible, you can cancel at any time and get your retainer back. There you go! what else you are waiting for? go for it, You can plan your wedding later when things cool off.
Second scenario, if you cancel your date, you will lose your retainer, whatever it might be. or you will have to postpone your wedding to a later date that the photographer is available for.
What do you do when you face the second scenario? and it will most likely WILL happen! Here what you need to do:
If postponing is the final choice, then start looking for the new date immediately. Make sure you contact you venue first to see what they can do to arrange it for you. This is the most important step which you have to get it done before everything else. After everything is set with venue. Next step is contacting your Photographer.
Contacting Your Photographer:
Okay, so here it comes. Believe me or not, this conversation could turn into sour if we are not careful how we communicate. I know you are frustrating, and so is your photographer. However, think about your end result here. Trust me, as a photographer, I am 100% empathy with my couples, and I will try to do my best to assist them and give them the best options available. With that being said, ask your photographer what the options are for you in order to postpone your wedding to the new date you have selected.
I have talked to many photographer friends in the industry and here are some options for you that are being offered:
A Later 2020 Date: You can postpone to a new date in 2020 with no extra charge if the photographer is available, if not then another photographer will be recommended to you under your approval.
Friday or Sunday Wedding in 2021: If you move your wedding to 2021, on a Friday or Sunday, there will be no extra charge. But if you pick a Saturday (Prime date) in 2021, there might a fee associated depends on the availability of the photographer.
Elopement: Recently, I have seen photographers start offering smaller wedding packages such as Elopement for couples who want to scale down their wedding and have a flexible date. That could be an option for you as well.
Future Credit: retainer unfortunately will not be refunded but will be your credit for future booking or postponement. There are debates whether retainer should be refunded or not. I found that by refunding all retainers to couples who postpone their wedding, the photographer will be out of business. Therefore keeping retainer means to keep their businesses going, it also give them a chance to help you with your future wedding planning. you do not want that to happen to your favorite photographer, do you?:)
Rebooking: There are photographers offering your retainer as a credit for your rebooking a new date in 2021. I found this is probably the best solution thus far. Why is that? Because it will guarantee you a new date in 2021 without an additional fee. You might have to put down another retainer to keep your new date, however the credit will apply to the total balance dues in the future.
For example: you put $1,000 as retainer in 2020. Now you want to book a new date in 2021, new contract will be drafted. let's say your new package is $4,000. In order to secure the new date, you will have to put another $1,000 retainer. Now you have $2,000 in credit, you will only have to pay the balance of $2,000 when it dues. This way, you are not loosing money, you can have a new PRIME date (a saturday) in 2021. Does it make sense?
So make sure to ask and consider this option!
Scale down your Wedding or Elopement:
If you don't mind having a smaller wedding with fewer guests, this is THE option for you. Photographer fees might be the same or less depends on your photographer as well. Some will cut the cost because your wedding is now less hours. Some will not because it is pretty much a day of their service. But DON'T expect it to be "Cheaper" because it is a smaller wedding. The amount of works, energy and creativity will be the same! Make sure you discuss with your photographer.
PROS: more flexible on date selections, Intimate wedding, less expensive, no food costs, not much decorations needed, ultimately less expenses involved.
CONS: it might not be your dream wedding, not many friends or family members attending, the hassle of changing date with all vendors.
This is your once of a life time moment, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons again, and also ask your HEART, what do you really enjoy doing? At the end of the day, if you feel right about it, I believe it will worth it!
Secure your new date as soon as possible:
The Pandemic will be over. Everything will be back to normal and you know what it means. Everybody will start planning their wedding again! With that being said, it will be a super busy year ahead for wedding photographers. So if you have a new date worked out with your venue, book that date as fast as you can because your photographer might not have that date available.
Finally, here we are. If all things do not work out. Cancellation is a must, then here are ways to go about it:
Be Straight Up: Tell your photographer your concerns and worry truthfully. Straight to the point. Don't beat around the bush. Being genuine is the key.
Be Nice: I totally understand your frustration might be to the roof when you find out your retainer will not be refunded. But, take a deep breath and calm down! Talk your photographer as another human being that this is the last option you have to take because nothing else works. He or she might make an exception and do you a favor and go against their contract. You never know! So just be nice!
Be open minded: If refund cannot be made, think of something might work for you such as credit for your future wedding booking, or using that retainer credit for an outdoor session for just you and your spouse, a wall art, an album from your engagement session or other services they are providing. I am sure at this point in time, if you show them your understanding, they will go extra miles to serve you even though what you ask for might be more value that the lost retainer.
Be Reasonable: Listen, communicate and compromise are keys. Please understand that, during this hard time, everybody is suffering. I know for a fact that photographers have been trying to figure out ways to help their clients as much as they possibly can. I have seen many posts and new feeds asking for solutions from photographers all over the world. So be patient with them as they are with you! They love you and they want to best for you!
Brides, that is all! I hope these tips will eliminate some of your concerns and help you deal with your situation affectively. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, so do not panic and lose hopes! Cheers and good luck!
Always Us Studios
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