I love weddings, and most of the time, I love the wedding industry as a whole. It has a lot of flaws, sure, but like a sibling, you still love it anyway. You just want it to be better.
Today, fellow wedding professionals, we need to talk. It's going to be a bit unorganized, but it's needed. Let's go there.
Dear Wedding Professional,
No matter what field of this industry you are in, be it photography, planning, venue ownership, floral, whatever - it should come as no surprise to you that your client needs one very critical thing from you:
To do the job you were hired to do.
I can count on one hand all the couples this year who had a vendor fail them. I shouldn't have to count any couples in that situation. There should be zero.
If you have given your word (which, with a contract, is a legally binding word) that you will provide a service or a product, you are expected to deliver. If you accept money for that service or product, you are even more so expected to deliver. It isn't very complicated, but in case that concept is difficult for you, let's break this down.
- Client contacts you and requests to book you.
- You send over a contract, have them sign it, and likely have them put down some money as a retainer.
- You keep in touch, you check in.
- On the day(s) when you are supposed to do the thing you were booked to do, you do it.
That's it. That's seriously it.
Now, I understand there are circumstances where you might find yourself genuinely unable to follow through. There is a protocol of how that should be handled (in my opinion):
- First and foremost, do not over-promise if you know you cannot deliver. Do not make promises you cannot keep.
- When you realize you are unable to fulfill your side of the contract, you need to IMMEDIATELY contact the client and find them a replacement/alternative, and eat whatever costs may incur (if they have given you any money).
- If nothing else, if YOU are the person cancelling the contract, YOU need to refund your client.
We may disagree here, but I believe there are very few circumstances where you are allowed to not do your job (not including non-payment of client, failure on client's end to communicate, etc). If your client has done everything they were supposed to do, you need to make a point to do what you need to do. I'd like to compile a small list of situations that do not qualify you to bail on your client.
- You were invited to a wedding/event/vacation that falls on that date.
- You have a cold. (FIND A REPLACEMENT. Or do what I did this past weekend and go to the doctor's office beforehand and get a steroid shot.)
- You were contacted by a "better" couple. (SHAME ON YOU EVERY WEDDING IS A BLESSING YOU NEED TO BE GRATEFUL)
Again, maybe we don't agree on this. But unless there is a death in the family weeks prior to the wedding, or you pass away yourself, there is pretty much no reason you cannot do your job. (There have been, unfortunately, a few recent cases of someone losing a loved one right before a wedding, and it was way too much to handle at one time. And you know what they did? They found a replacement. They did everything in their power [and, in their contract] to make it right. Learn from them.)
We already have a lot of defending to do in our industry. So please, for the love of everything that is good in this world, please do not make the rest of our jobs more difficult by darkening our industry as a whole. When one vendor does this, every single one of us looks bad.
I love you, fellow wedding professional. I believe that most of us get into this with pure hearts and a love for, well, love. I am rooting for you.
But stop being a flake. Show up. Do your job. And do it to the best of your abilities.
Or please, stop doing it at all.
A Very Disheartened Wedding Photographer