As a wedding planner approaching my one-year mark, I have experimented with different payment options for my clients which typically range around $800.  I originally began by asking for 50% down as a non-refundable save-the-date fee for day-of coordination services.  However, I've been leaning more towards changing to $100 to reserve the date and then the remainder is due before the wedding date.

Has anyone else tried this?  And what do you require as a deposit and why?

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As a wedding photographer, I used to take 1/3 with contract signing, 1/3 - 30 days before the wedding and 1/3 on proof delivery. After getting ripped and still having proofs from my 1st year in business, I revampt to the following:

1. $750 "Save the Date" fee with contract signing - (non-refundable and clearly stated in my contract with my couples). This takes the date off my calendar. A "fee" is not a deposit or a retainer.

2. Balance is due 30 days before the wedding.

3. The one exception is if they are having albums and only if they make an issue about it which doesn't happen very often. Then is is 75% of the balance before the wedding with the remaining 25% due upon approval of the album design.

This has been working very well for me for the last four years.
We require a 25 percent down payment when we sign contracts to reserve the date. The remianing balance is due 14 days before the date of said event.
I ask for 20% of the package price as a Booking Fee (there is no such thing as a non-refundable Deposit, always call it a Booking Fee) which secures the date in my calender, minimum BF is $300. Balance is due 4 weeks befroe the date.

Occasionally, I get clients wanting to hold some of the fee back until delivery of the album, which is fair enough, but I also put a 3 month time limit on those as they can drag out the album design process - especially when they get the credit card statement and realise they've gone way over budget on the wedding!

You can use the booking fee in creative ways for your business, while I might make a $3,000 sale today, the bulk of the money may not reach my account for 12-24 months. To help the cash flow, you can charge a higher booking fee or, as I do, use a percentage of the price.

Some photographers I know charge 50% as BF, and their cash flow is superb!
I request 60% up front. My prices are super low so I use that as non-refundable to cover costs of materials. The rest is due upon delivery. I am pretty flexible though, if someone cannot afford 60% then I will do payments and get to work once I have the 60%. I haven't had many problems with that. There are some people who think I should just do my services for free though.
Of course - you are a professional, you do this day in day out, you make your living from it - why shouldn't you do it for free?

It's the same the world over I'm afraid Wanderful!!!!

My thoughts exactly Matt. What's with people these days?
That made me chuckle. I seriously get people like that!
We have a Signed Contract (6 pages) and require an estimated 1/3 Non-Refundable Retainer (ALWAYS make sure it says that!) in order to secure a delivery date. Another 1/3 is due when the 1st real fabric fitting happens, and the final payment and sales tax at pick up.
Without a Deposit, we are not retained for services and a meeting is just a conversation. Booked is booked!
Also because in real life stuff happens that nobody can predict, you are covered for your work and time whether or not it goes all the way to it's final conclusion. We've had real tragedies and break ups happen to Clients for which we are Totally Supportive and will do what we can to accomodate. But we also had one insane Bridezilla that we had to cut loose with a Termination of Contract Agreement and already put 60+ hours of work into...
As a wedding photographer I ask my wedding clients for 50% upon signing the contract and the remaining balance to be paid in full at least 30 days prior to their wedding date.

I have done it this way for the past few years now and every once in a while you come across someone who is not comfortable paying in full before they receive their finished product, but the same goes both ways if you think about it.

Before doing this, I have had too many issues with chasing people down after I deliver their wedding photos for my final payment, and many times you get excuses that they were away on their honeymoon, that they were just buying a new house, and the most common one was that they just didnt have the money right now because they ran over their budget on the wedding, and you get stuck waiting for months.

By asking for 100% of the money before their wedding I guarantee myself that I will be paid. However if a situation comes down to a make or break on losing a client over it, and especially if its a last minute wedding or a date that isn't too easy too fill otherwise, I have been known to work with them, but I always make sure that I communicate just why my payments work this way so that they know what I expect from them. If as professionals we are going to be held accountable to the contract and our services, then our clients should be held accountable just as much.

Phillip Brunelle
Phillip Brunelle Photography
I totally agree. After the wedding, ALL THE MONEY IS GONE! I did one wedding where the wedding planner was walking around with a sack of cash (yes, cash!) paying vendors after each part of the service. She paid the florist after the flowers was delivered to the church, but held the part for the flowers being delivered to the reception. She paid 3 different limo companies after we all drop everyone off at the reception. She had to use cash because no vendor would accept payment afterward by check or credit card, including us. This lady must have been carrying around $10,000 to $15,000 in cash because they insisted on only paying after the service was delivered. This is a untrusting environment that really takes away from the wedding experience. Needless to say, she didn't have a lot of time for coordinating of the wedding activities and things ran 2 hours behind schedule. IF YOU CAN'T TRUST YOUR WEDDING VENDORS, YOU SHOULD NOT USE THEM. IT'S THAT SIMPLE.
I require a 30% retainer that is non-refundable and the balance due 30 days before the wedding. I've had clients book me a month before the wedding, then I ask for 50% down and the balance on the day of the wedding.


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