Help! My photographer won't give back my wedding deposit due to Covid-19

The covid pandemic has been difficult and stressful for both couples and wedding suppliers, we are all having to make hard decisions and adapt. I have spoken to my clients repeatedly during the covid restrictions and as we progress through the UK’s third lockdown, and creep ever closer to 12 months of covid restrictions, you can understand why we are ALL struggling to hold back the emotions.




"I'm Stressed!"

You are mentally exhausted and emotional! I get it, you may have postponed your wedding 3, 4 or even 5 times already and it's now got too much for you. As a result, some couples are cancelling their dream wedding all together, not sure when to reschedule. Others have opted for just a private signing of the wedding register and cancelling all their wedding suppliers due to their new financial situation. People have lost their jobs and loved ones have been taken away from us, it's no wonder mental health has risen since the covid pandemic.


"I want my deposit back"

I am not a lawyer, so this blog is simply to guide and hopefully help you. It's not the answer to get your money back, I'm looking at both sides of the story and unfortunately its not a simple yes or no answer, as every situation is different.


First thing you should do is contact the photographer by phone and work together to come up with an agreement that helps everyone. Listen to each other and be understanding, when you come up with an agreement, send an email to confirm so you have it in writing and there is no misunderstanding. So, what might you come up with...


1. Simply move the deposit to the new date, whether it be for 2022, 2023 or 2024. If you're planning to have a smaller or shorter wedding celebration, then you might be able to agree on a different photography package.


2. If the photographer isn't available on your new date, he might be able to offer you an alternative photographer at the same price . Be sure to check out the new photographers work, to ensure you are happy with quality they provide.


3. Swap the deposit paid for alternative services, such as a portrait shoot, event photography, newborn shoot, etc.


"I haven't read the contract!"

Professional wedding photographers will all have a very similar contract that covers our business against every eventuality, even the act of god. Have a look in your contract and pay special attention to the deposit, or booking fee section. It will state that your booking fee or deposit is non-refundable or transferable in the event of cancellation. Photographers can not hold a date for free and miss potential business without any guarantee that the couple will not cancel.


“It's not my fault I have to cancel my wedding, it's because of the covid pandemic!”


No one could have predicted this global pandemic and yes your correct but also no. You can still get married, you just cant have the same big wedding you planned at this current time.


"Legally, can I get it back?"

Again, I'm not a lawyer but if you hired a professional photographer and signed a contract, I would say the answer is no. You should both show understanding and take the time to have an honest and respectful conversation. The photographer should take the time to understand your individual situation and decide whether to take a business or moral decision. This still doesn't mean you're entitled to a full refund, to run a business they have to charge for their time already spent booking your wedding. In my business, I would value this time at £50.

"I'm a wedding photographer and I'm struggling"

It's very easy to look at photographers as a business and not someone who's just like you, trying to pay the bills. Most wedding photographers are self employed freelancers, they have a responsibility to their clients and family, so who comes first, family or business? After nearly 12 months of reduced income and this Januarys tax bill, which we wont get a rebait from anytime soon. Some will have lost all their savings and are now 100% reliant on wedding deposits.


"I need to cancel/postpone, what do I do?"

1. Reschedule the date and retain a good relationship with your photographer.

2. If they unavailable to photograph your day or provide a photographer, ask if they are able to return your deposit.

3. If they can’t return your deposit, talk to each other and come up with options that will work and ease the stress for both of you.

4. If your photographer is being uncooperative and is difficult to talk to, I may be able to help. View my client offer at the bottom of this post for more details.



Conclusion

This pandemic has put everyone in an uncomfortable position and the only way we will get through this is by working together. It's challenging for both sides, so be kind to each other and sympathetic. Wedding photographers are on your side, we want to help and make this difficult time as stress-free as possible.


I want to help and support both my clients and local photographers as best as I can, which is why I am currently offering two options for both photographers and couples so everybody wins!


Supporting photographers

Photographers can contact me if they are unavailable to photograph their clients new rescheduled date. I will photograph the wedding and they will edit the photos, allowing them to keep the deposit and not lose any money.


Supporting couples

If your photographer is unable to refund your full day wedding photography deposit and is not been cooperative. I will discount my full day wedding package at £1350 by the money you have lost from your previous photographer, by up to £350! (Proof and photographers details will be requested. Offer is only available for full day wedding bookings).



I would like to wish everyone the best during this difficult time, lots of love and take care!


Aaron Crowe