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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
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
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