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    Wedding Industry Law is your online resource for legal news and education on running a wedding business. We hope you find the articles, videos, and information helpful. If you have any comments, news tips, or areas that you would like to see covered, please let us know!

    Wedding Industry Law is edited by Wedding Lawyer and Trial Attorney Rob Schenk. Contributing blogger Ayisha Lawrence also kicks out some of the jams, too.


Possible to Have Verbal Contract With Wedding Venue?

Case Study (Courtesy of AVVO)

The Wedding Venue’s innovative “Throw Important Documents On the Ground” filing system caused a few headaches.

Question (from anonymous in California):

“We didn’t like the wedding venue and didn’t return or sign their contract. Are we liable? 

We left messages to cancel but no response. Two months later they are calling to schedule design meetings???”
Response (from Attorney Rob Schenk):

As stated, there are not enough facts here to warrant a thorough response.

I strongly advise sending a certified letter (a) referencing your previous messages in which you declined their offer and (b) that you never provided them a returned, signed contract.

Although you do NOT have to have a written document in order to have a legally binding contract, here, this looks like you never made it past the “offer and “acceptance” stage of the contract. That is, their ‘offer’ to you, i.e. “Hey, we will provide you our venue on X date, and subject to the terms of this written contract,” was not ‘accepted’ by you, i.e., “Here is the signed contract, buddy.”

Moral of the Story: Get it in writing!!!!

Three Essential Terms for Wedding Photography Contracts

“I want your job. All you have to do is hang out and snap pictures all day.” – Anonymous Groomsmen at every reception.

“How about I punch you in the throat.” – Response of every wedding photographer ever.

“Easy? I’ve been laying on a rock for the past twenty minutes.”

“I’m just going to download a contract template I found on the internet. I really don’t need to pay a lawyer. I mean, it’s all just a bunch of legalese mumbo-jumbo anyway, right?” – Anonymous wedding photographer

“How about I punch you in the throat.” – Rob Schenk

I absolutely do not endorse borrowing, downloading, stealing, finding under a rock, bit-torrenting, receiving from a twitter link, or otherwise procuring your wedding photo contract from a source other than (1) an attorney that has reviewed and explained the document to you or (2) a company that offers legitimate contract templates that originated from the mind of an actual attorney.

However, if you find yourself operating outside one of those two exceptions, please keep the following in mind:

1. DEPOSIT: Your wedding photography contract MUST account for what happens to the deposit in the event doo-doo happens. It is not enough to say “Deposit is 50% of Price and Due upon signing.” Is it refundable? If not, when is it not? What happens if the Bride postpones? Cancels? Doesn’t pay the other half? BE AS EXPLICIT AS POSSIBLE.  Need help? Read this.

2. PHOTOGRAPH OWNERSHIP: There is a massive misconception with the public that the Bride and Groom will OWN THE RIGHTS to the photographs. In other words, the Bride and Groom will receive unfettered rights to do what they want with the pics. This is not the case unless the photographer assigns such rights to the client. Be clear on what is being provided to the couple, whether it’s a license for personal use, full assignment, etc.

3. SCOPE OF EDITING. Another misconception with the public is that wedding photographers have the editing capabilities of Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas’ Company) (He invented Star Wars). Did you ever see that commercial for the Samsung Galaxy S4, where the mom deletes an unwanted person from a photograph with the simple touch of a button (my mom can still barely operate a rotary dial phone). Yeah, everyone thinks that wedding photographers can do that while baking cookies at the same time. The wedding contract should put the Bride on notice of the extent of the touch-ups, editing, corrections to color and sizing, etc, that the photographer shall be responsible for under the agreement. Everything else: MO’ MONEY.