Is it just the wedding photography industry refusing to return deposits?

Why not end the week with a highly controversial topic? I have access to several closed groups for wedding photographers (global, not just the UK). I am surprised at how many wedding photographers are point blank refusing to refund ‘any’ retainer/booking fee/deposit due to the wedding couple having to cancel their dream wedding because COVID-19 has prevented it from going ahead…

When the shut-down started I was so happy to see so many other types of industry returning deposits and full payments for things like holidays, theatre, concerts and so on. It made me feel proud and a little safer in knowing that these companies were all trying to do the right thing.

For the first three weeks or so of the lock-down, I witnessed numerous posts in these wedding groups asking what should they do with the booking fees and retainers. For many, they were still trying to figure it out but a few were saying they were keeping it.

Just before the shutdown, I posted my coronavirus FAQ saying I would honour original prices to those postponing. I will also refund those who need to. I don’t want to be an extra problem and I morally want to do the right thing. The couples special day being ruined is enough of a disaster and I don’t want to add to that devastation.

I thought the wedding photography industry would be more caring because it is such a special day for each couple. I honestly thought only a tiny percentage would even consider not refunding. Oh boy, was I wrong!

These were just some of the comments I’ve seen…

You have a contract for a reason. It would be a horrible business practice to return retainers. The people that are doing that will not survive this. It seems like it’s the weekend warriors that are returning it because “morals “. Stupid.

“If they choose to cancel, that’s a choice that they don’t have to make, and we are not refunding their retainers.”

Only if you’re a dumb ass who’s been doing so, don’t give me this blah blah about doing the right thing etc. you probably screwed yourself with cr*p contract wording as well. Either way, hope to see them in business in 2022:)

They all seem to forget two things:

  1. This is a truly magical and special day for the couple. A day they will remember for the rest of their lives. This dream has been shattered by what’s going on. It might just be a job for some wedding photographers, but it is a LOT more than that to the poor couple.
  2. There will be many, many businesses that won’t be able to open after this. These wedding photographers think they are somehow special and unique. They are not.

There are even some of the deposit-keepers that are now having a go at those returning the deposits on moral grounds… saying it makes them look bad for not returning them.

It seems that the couples are fighting back though. One photographer posted this:

“I refused to give her back the retainer and she roasted me with a 1-star review describing my lack of ethics. When the lock-downs did eventually come, I thought about giving her that retainer back, but, screw it – that one-star review isn’t going away.”

I am glad to see that just as many wedding photographers were, in my eyes, doing the right thing. Those include these people…

Refund. Morally and legally there is just no option.

This photographer was roasted and was asked how she would survive because she’s refunding? Her reply:

“It’s a risk I am willing to take. If one is good enough, when this is all over, your phone will ring. For the time being, I’ll bag groceries in a grocery store to put food in the table, if I have to.”

I didn’t expect to see so many in favour of refusing to refund anything as if this was an everyday event happening.

For all wedding couples:

For many wedding photographers, they do it because it is a passion. They are honest and know just how much this day means to the couple. There are also others that are only in it for the money.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer I would specifically ask them what they did in this situation. You’ll be surprised at some of the photographers, the ones you thought cared about you, but actually care far more about your money and ways to keep it, without even having to do anything for it.

Simon Day

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