Just a couple of days back, I had a WhatsApp chat with Andros from The Wedding Notebook. We spoke about many things but mostly we wanted to find out how each other is doing. Then, we broach on this touchy topic of deposit forfeiture seeing that so many weddings are either cancelled or postponed due to the current Covid-19 situation. So, this would be my topic of discussion today.
Why do you collect a Deposit?
Most photographers would require some form of deposit upon booking. The amount varies from photographer to photographer and so are the payment schedule. The deposit works both ways. For the photographer, it guarantees income for the day and brings in the much needed cash to run the business. As a wedding couple, you get the assurance that you’ll get the photographer that you’ve always wanted for your wedding day.
Would you Forfeit my Deposit?
Well, it depends. Contractually speaking, once you decide not to go ahead with the wedding (for whatever reasons), the deposit is forfeited. That’s at least how my contract works.
But you’ve not done any work yet
While this may be true, you must also understand that once the date is reserved for you, I cannot accept any other wedding bookings (for that date). These are all income opportunities that I’ve turned down.
Have you Forfeited any Deposits before?
No. Deposit forfeiture is the absolute last resort. In fact, I’m more inclined to return the deposit than to forfeit it. More often than not, there are many things we can do to avoid either a deposit forfeiture or refund.
Thankfully, in my so many years as a wedding photographer, neither (deposit forfeiture nor returns) has ever happened before. That was before Covid-19 decided to have a run at all of us.
Covid-19 is Tearing Us Apart
The wedding industry is faced with something we’ve never had to deal with before – mass wedding cancellations/postponements due to Circuit Breaker measures and travel restrictions. We’ve heard of so many disputes over deposit forfeiture. There’s even a “blacklist” of wedding vendors who refuse deposit refunds. The legal framework would perhaps provide some guidelines on how this can be sorted out but really there isn’t an easy way out of this. Somehow or another, one party would feel short changed.
Would you Allow Cancellations and Postponement?
In current circumstances, yes. While this is a massive cash flow and financial blow to me, there is no way a wedding couple could fulfill their end of the bargain as long as the Circuit Breaker measures are in place. It’s not they don’t want to. They can’t. Neither can I.
Thankfully, I had only postponements so far. I’ve had very understanding wedding couples who tried their utmost best not to bail out on me. Like I always tell them, “Postpone if You Can. Cancel Only if You Must”.
It’s hard to tell what’s gonna happen from here on. Experts are hinting that the virus may linger for quite a while more. However, I remain optimistic that there’s a penned up wedding demand that’s just waiting to be fulfilled once the Circuit Breaker measures are eased. At the end of the day, the show must go on.