Yes, you may have known the couple forever, but you still need to protect yourself with a contract. Verbal agreements don’t stand up in court. And when your revenue and reputation are on the line, you’ll want to write a simple contract. We’re not attorneys, but here’s our guide to the 10 C’s of a solid wedding photography contract.
1. Contact and Other Basics
Never settle for just the bride or groom’s contact info. You need both. Contact information ensures you don’t get burned, but it’s also a way to stay in touch for other work and referrals.
The photographer should list:
- Business name
- Business Address
The clients should list:
- Bride’s name
- Groom’s name
- Both Emails
- Both Phones
- Email and Phone for other relevant parties such as the best man, maid of honor, or parents
- Wedding Venue Address
- Reception Location
2. Clock: How Many Hours?
The old saying is time is money. An extra hour wait, while Bridezilla transforms to a bride, doesn’t mean you stay later. Give them a hard start and finish time. Make it explicit, so there’s no wiggle room for wasted time.
Tell the client how much you charge per hour of extra time. And no, a free drink is not adequate payment.
3. Cha-Ching: The Price
Give the client the grand total and a line-by-line break down. Highlight the value they receive for each service. And allow for of upsells, cross-sells, and à la carte services. For example, you can do tiered packages, sell prints don’t forget this income stream, or offer image backups, so you don’t have to keep their lovely photos on your Dropbox for eternity.
4. Cash or Charge: The Terms
Let’s get all the precious details about your fee precisely, right. Tell the client:
- What’s owed
- Payment deadlines
- Accepted forms of payment
- Your policy on insufficient funds, bounced checks, and nonpayment
You might want to try the 25-50-25 payment plan. The first 25% is a nonrefundable deposit made on the booking date. Get the next 50% halfway to the wedding date. And you get the final 25% a week before the wedding. Try to avoid awkwardly asking for payment at the wedding itself.
5. Copies: The Deliverables
What do they get? Do they get prints, a digital gallery, or photo album? Do you include your unedited or RAW files, is there a shot count, or do you simply give them what you think is best? Making it explicit prevents fuzzy questions about this or that picture.
6. Conveyance: When Do You Deliver?
Set the proper expectation. It’s an Instagram world, but that doesn’t mean wedding pictures will be ready the night of the honeymoon. Tell them about the editing process and explain the value behind why it takes so long. How do you deliver pictures? Is it a thumb drive via the mail, as a zip file for the client to download, or a simple emailed link?
7. Consent: Image Rights
Will you be licensing some pictures or using them for advertising with vendors? Make sure the client knows who owns the images and copyrights and how they should be used.
8. Competition: Watch Out for Amateurs
Everyone in the audience is snapping away with iPhone in hand. And Aunt Sue jumps in the aisle for her Facebook Live at the sound of “Here Comes the Bride.” There goes your perfect shot. You should have a policy to avoid this nightmare.
How will the wedding guests be instructed? Allowing no photos until the reception might be a compromise, and some photographers prohibit other photos altogether. Discuss this with the couple, so you’re all in agreement. On the day of a quick reminder to an emcee may be proper. Take care of yourself beforehand and never miss the magic moment.
9. Comply: What Happens if You Have an Emergency?
Their wedding date is the same day you have the flu or some other unforeseen event. What do you do? Be clear on what money you refund, or if you have a backup photographer do the work. You want to limit your liability to protect yourself and the clients’ big day.
10. Cancellation and Refunds.
Maybe a couple has opted for the 5-year engagement, or the groom has gotten too friendly with the would-be maid of honor. What happens to the deposit, and how much of a refund does the couple get? Give them an upfront picture of how much it will cost if they cancel.
Start Building Your Wedding Contract
Once again, this article isn’t legal advice. You may want to contact a lawyer to draw up a template for you. Or you can check out a few of these resources to mix-and-match elements for your simple wedding photography contract doc:
- 5 Best Free Wedding Photography Contract Templates
- A Simple, Fair, And Free-to-Use Wedding Photography Contract
- 12 Free Photography Proposal and Contract Templates (for Agencies and Freelancers)
While you’re drawing up the contract, why not guarantee your print revenue and protect your wedding photos with our free watermarking software SnapSentry?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a watermark?
A watermark is a superimposed, transparent message on a picture or image (usually a signature, stamp, or logo).
Do I need a wedding contract?
Your wedding contract is the best way to set proper expectations and protect you and your clients.
What should be included in a wedding contract?
Follow the 10 C’s above, and you’ll take care of everything from contact info to payment terms, and even cancellation policy. We’ve also listed some sample templates you can model under the heading “Start Building Your Wedding Contract.”