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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.


Can I Sue Seamstress for Breach of Contract?

Question originally appearing on AVVO

“Where did I put my Super Glue?”

“A seamstress ruined my wedding dress, but the store has a no refund policy. Can I fight this and obtain the refund they owe me? I purchased a wedding dress in January of this year at a store with a no refund policy. We bought the dress loving the intricate and delicate lace of the train. The top needed some restructuring, but after a long discussion with the owner we were assured her seamstress could produce what we were looking for. After 3 months of waiting on alterations I had my appointment yesterday only to discover the seamstress had cut off the entire bottom of the dress. The entire train (10inches). The reason I purchased the gown. The seamstress is attempting to “fix” the dress, but the damage is done. No where on our receipt does the notes say the seamstress is to touch the train. Can I get a refund?”

Response (from Attorney Rob Schenk):

You will most likely have a claim for Breach of Contract against the Seamstress, since you did not completely receive what you bargained (paid) for.

The issue will be the amount of damages (cash) that you may be entitled to. Generally, the Court will look at the problem with the train (the “breach”), and determine its value relative to the total cost of the Wedding Dress. You would present your own testimony that you consider this the ‘essence’ of the dress, and therefore would attempt to get as close to 100% of the cost as possible.

The law allows persons that are in ‘breach’ a chance to fix the problem (called “curing”), so that any damages would be lessened. Here, the Seamstress will attempt to show that she has cured the damages by “fixing” the train, thereby minimizing her liability to you.

Even better, I would recommend reaching out to the Seamstress and requesting the money back, appealing to the Seamstress’ sense of customer satisfaction (more flies with honey). Litigation is not fun, so if you can achieve victory outside of court, I highly advise it.

Best of Luck!!!

Moral of the StoryOwn up to your mistakes as a wedding business owner. Many times, an apology and a discount solves the problem.