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Understanding Your Wedding Contract

 
 

 

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Understanding Your Wedding Contract
By Julie Butler, (c) 2007
 

Contracts are written to protect you in making sure you get what you want, and also to protect the photographer. Understanding the contract is the key. Although, there are many different wedding contracts, in the end, they usually state the same things.


Basically, the first, and most important part of the contract is that you and your photographer agree on the final price. The contract will also specify whether or not your photographer requires a retainer fee. You can discuss when payments should be received, but the total amount, or any remaining fee owed is normally required on your wedding day.


There is usually a section that states that you give all rights of your photos to be used for advertising, or any other purpose thought proper by the photographer. Basically, if your photographer wants to use your photos for advertising, contests, or publications they do not need to ask your permission. You’re giving them permission when you sign your contract.


In every photographer’s contract, it will state, in one way or another, that although all care will be taken with your negatives or “Raw files” and photographs taken at the wedding, the photographer will not be held responsible for loss, damage or failure to deliver your pictures. This is a very upfront statement that may sound a little worrisome to anyone signing this contract. But, to any professional photographer, this statement is required in writing to basically cover them in case of problems. Photographers are human just like everyone else, and although this isn’t something that you hear about often, if at all, uncontrollable things can happen.


During the wedding, the photographer understands that they are not the only one who will be taking pictures, but they also know that they are the only one being paid to provide professional photographs to you of your special day. So, they also want to make sure they are able to produce those pictures.


In some contracts, it will actually state that while the photographer is taking pictures, no other photographers will be allowed to take pictures. People don’t always think about where the photographer is positioned before they jump out in the isle to take the picture of the couple’s first kiss. They don’t realize that they just jumped in front of the photographer who wants to get that same picture, and when your pictures return, the only picture you have of your first kiss is the back of someone’s head. Although this part of the contract is more of a warning to the bride and groom that this could happen, it is also informing them that the photographer will not be held responsible if you do not get the picture you want because of the actions of a guest at your wedding. If your photographer is having problems with one individual, they will usually ask you to talk with the person.


In addition to you signing the contract, your photographer will also sign the contract to indicate that they will reserve the time and date of your wedding, and will not make any other reservations for that day. For this reason, the retainer fee is non-refundable even if the date of your wedding is changed or cancelled. If the photographer declines other weddings because they have already signed a contract with you indicating their commitment to your wedding date, it is only fair practice that they should keep the retainer if your wedding is cancelled. If your wedding date is cancelled or changed, the retainer fee is the photographer’s only payment for that day.


The specifications of your wedding package will also be noted within the contract. Read it over carefully to ensure you will be receiving everything you had discussed verbally with your photographer. If changes are made to the contract, both you and the photographer should initial and date changes to make it legally binding.


Understanding the contract is essential. By signing the contract, you are agreeing to all the terms of the contract so make sure you understand everything. If you don’t understand any part of the contract, ask your photographer to explain it.



Contracts don’t have to be a mystery; they just have to be understood.