Wedding problem???

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by maytay20, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. maytay20

    maytay20 TPF Noob!

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    So I did a wedding last weekend. It all starts with I got there at 2pm a half an hour early, bride arrives 2:45 late of course. Bride and bridesmaids were not ready until 3:00p we started formals as soon as all of the groomsmen and the groom were ready. I then took 47 formals of the bride, groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids and flower girl. At 4:30 I was told everyone had to go back to there separate rooms so I took a few more photos of the bride, bridesmaids in her room. After that the ceremony started and I took photos throughout the ceremony as was discussed with the bride. IE I took flash photography and did move around to make sure I got good shots. (not a lot but she made me aware that she wanted shot from all over the church during the ceremony) The mom said she didn't like the noise of my camera. After the ceremony the bride did not do a receiving line like was planned and the whole wedding party went to one of the rooms to wait for the guests to leave. I was not aware this was going on and was in the church ceremony area waiting for them to come back to continue the formal photos. When they did finally return I took a total of 23 more formals before they decided they didn't want anymore they wanted to get down to their guest at the reception hall and they left. I left to go to the reception hall and ended up having bad directions and I got lost. I arrived to the reception 2.5hrs late because of this. But all I missed was the grand entrance and the toast. I finished the night got all of the rest of the photos needed then left to go home. Mind you I got lost again and didn't get home until 1am.
    Now on to today I get a call from the bride’s mom. Who was never at our meeting and did not discuss anything with me before the wedding. She wanted compensation for the amount of time that I was lost saying that I should have gotten more formal photos, asking me why I refused to take formal photos with the grand parents, (I never did, the bride and groom said no to them) and she also stated that they wanted more photos at the reception site and the bride had told me if we had time we would snap a few photos there. The brides mom also had a problem that I was doing flash photography and moving around during the ceremony. She also had a problem with the fact that she had to find people to get them there for the formals. It was stated ahead of time that I do not search for people if I did we would have gotten even less shots. She also asked why I had the church turn the lights up. I did not ask for this it was actually so bright it is taking me more time because either the brides dress is too bright or the rest of the photo is super dark and the dress is perfect.
    Now I offered her a reshoot on the missed photos she said there was no way they could rent tuxes again and that the bride had ripped her dress to there was no way.
    Now here is were I am standing I could
    A. give them their $700. back and they get no photos. (If I do a full refund I will not release any photos)
    B. give them a dollar amount off from a wedding book.
    C. Give them a percentage off the sheets.
    Mind you I did still get I estimate 550 pictures total that turned out.
    I am just not sure what to do. And I do usually confirm directions with someone but they all took off that fast.
    Thanks for any input, Mary
     
  2. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    I'm hearing only one side but, except for one item, it appears that there were a number of misunderstandings. Let me first address that one exception - getting lost and roaming the countryside for two-and-a-half hours. In my opinion, you were responsible to obtain good directions on your own at least a full day ahead of time. I do hold you responsible for that failure. For the future, you might wish to investigate with your cell phone supplier. Verizon offers two cell-phone navigator plans. If you will use it frequently, you pay $10/month and it's always available on your phone. If you will use it infrequently, you turn it on whenever you wish for $2.00 and it stays active for 24 hours.

    Regarding the remainder, my suggestion is that you schedule a meeting with whoever actually signed the contract with you. Advise him/her/them of the contact from the mother and courteously offer to allow the mother to attend the meeting. Bluntly tell him/her/them that you wish to be fair to both him/her/them and yourself. Take the conversation from there but, obviously, be prepared to give them the $700 back if the comments get ugly.
     
  3. maytay20

    maytay20 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks DH did suggest I just give them their $700. back. Before the wedding I had absolutely no contact from the mom only the bride and a friend of hers. I will have to try and contact the bride the mom wants to hear back from me withen a couple of days and I do not think the bride will be back by from her honeymoon by then.
     
  4. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    What does your contract say? And, did the mom sign the contract or did the B&G? Good shot you shouldn't even be dealing with the mom...

    That said, it sounds like things got a little screwy. I know I run the risk off getting flamed, but still, they easily got their $700 worth. In fact, it sounds like they got more than $700 worth...

    I would start talking to the bride instead of the mom (if at all possible - contractually). I'd want to know who gave you the directions, and if there's a problem with them. I'd also want to know if flash and movement were permitted by the venue. (Honestly, never use flash during the ceremony. And, always know the venue's restrictions.) And, then I'd make some kind of gesture - an album upgrade or something similar.

    But, don't start giving things away, and throwing money at the problem, if it's not going to solve the problem and create goodwill. I would also absolutely not refund the entire amount and cancel the contract. You're already too invested in time...
     
  5. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Did you get a signed contract?
    If you did and mom is not on there you do not talk about any of this with her. Politly ask her to wait untill the bride returns and we will take care of any problems then.

    Some people may not agree with this, but I would not give the money back, You did the work, you have supplied what you said you would.
    If they are not happy, they are not going to recomend you to friends and family and giving a refund will not change that, except someone might book you in the hopes of bullying you into a free wedding after you have finished.
     
  6. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    I didn't mean to suggest that you immediately jump to that conclusion. However, you should be prepared for that as a possibility. My thinking is that you should meet with the bride and courteously suggest that her mom also attend. During the meeting, ALWAYS defer to whatever agreement you had beforehand with the bride but keep the conversation pleasant. Hopefully, you can arrive at a compromise that "kinda" satisfies everybody and (most important) also keeps your reputation intact. (A full refund will not save your reputation and quite possibly could harm it.)

    I don't want to disagree with Mike but I'd be careful when investigating the source of the directions. I'm still inclined to put the responsibility on you.
     
  7. maytay20

    maytay20 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you Mike. The mom did sign the contract but she was not supposed to so I am stuck dealing with her. I have a feeling the bride has no idea that she has called me though. The contract they signed doesnt cover much. Sad to say but I redid my contract right after they signed this one. It now covers much more. Now with the flash during the wedding the bride contacted me and I was completely honest with her. I have only done 7 weddings, I DO use flash because I am still learning, and she begged me to do her wedding because I was the only unbooked photographer since she moved her wedding from late November to May 31st. I did already want to compensate them for me getting lost and i do admit it is my fault.
     
  8. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    Sound like you're on the right track. Just keep reminding yourself of the effect of emotions on both the bride and her mother. You might have to bite your tongue on occasion but it's essential that, whatever happens, you keep your end of the conversation cordial.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would advise that you should not give any money back or offer to do so. Never give the money back.

    If anything, offer to provide them with additional services to make up for things that may have been your fault.

    You do want to leave them happy, because so much of wedding photography is word of mouth advertising...but it works both ways...and as Speedtrap said, you don't want to get a reputation as a photographer that gives the money back.

    Some people will complain about anything...in an attempt to get things cheap or free. I don't know if that's the case here or not...but from the sounds of it, the MOB was looking for reasons from the get go.
    Your camera was too loud? Her own daughter was getting married and she was concerned about the noise level of a camera? :roll:

    It seems like there was a fair bit of confusion about the events on the day. I don't think you can be responsible for that...but in the future, you need to be on top of things like this...at times, even take charge.

    Getting lost, that's a tough one. In this day and age, I think it's imperative that you have a cell phone and numbers of people who can help you out. As mentioned, there is technology avaliable to guide you just about anywhere. Might be a wise investment.
     
  10. *Mike*

    *Mike* TPF Noob!

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    I understand Socrates, and I wouldn't ever want a client discussion to degenerate into a blame game. I think that at this point, it becomes a test of diplomacy and people skills more than anything else... I thought the possibility exists that the mom typed up bad directions - in which case you sit down and apologize profusely. You put the directions on the table and point to the bad line exclaim how foolish you feel for not having caught the mistake. :eek:) Trick is to be sincere...

    You have the potential to turn this around, and come out of it looking great. I've had irate clients that end up sending referrals six months later. You just have to be very thoughtful and diplomatic.

    My position is, you don't want to "buy" forgiveness - especially when it's entirely avoidable if you break out the kid gloves and finesse things. Consider the word of mouth - the photographer screwed up, but at least refunded our money. Or, the photographer screwed up. Neither one is going to help you much! And, neither is really a winning resolution for you.

    Be very understanding. Be sincere. Don't admit fault. Make a goodwill gesture.

    --

    This is also where I launch into my spiel that if you shoot weddings you have to have error and omission coverage. Easy way to go - join the PPA.

    --
    Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
     
  11. maytay20

    maytay20 TPF Noob!

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    The bad directions were Google the exit I was supposed to take did not exist. :confused: But the lovely state of MI cost me even more time. Once I realized I was lost I did call the bride left a voicemail 15min later someone with a GPS system called me back gave me directions then I had to call them back 2 more times because of closed roads. :x I am not wanting to play the blame game. I want to make good with this and did offer a re shoot. The thing I am having a hard time with right now is the mom wants to meet without the bride before she even gets back from her honeymoon. And with my next payment I am joining the PPA. I was very calm and sincere on the phone, she was not though. She did start yelling at me and cut me off every time I tried to talk. They also have not even seen what I did take they are upset about what shots were not gotten. Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I really appreciate them.


     
  12. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well I have to say that you need to consider yourself lucky that they are not angrier than they already are. Being 2.5 hourslate to the reception?!?!? losing the wedding party before formals??!!??!?! I do not want to assume what your experience level in weddings is but this is amatuer night. For future refrence all directions should be TOTALLY clear LONG LONG before the wedding day. I would say a good time to get the directions together is mabye contract signing day. I guess this is somewhat of an exaggeration but what I like to do is send them a package of questions after the contract with this kind of information clearly asked for. If this info is late you need to start calling a couple of weeks if not a month before the wedding to get this stuff staightened out. I am sorry but there is no excuse for getting lost for me when I do wedding after the cermony I am never more than 50 yards from the bride and groom I always speak to the limo driver ahead of time and tell him to lok ut for me because I will be tailing him and to please not loose me. This is not to say that proper direction are not equally important. I would say they are so important that you get them writen from the B+G PLUS Mapquest them I usually even take the extra step of asking them in the final call a week or so before the wedding. Anyway on to the next part losing the wedding party after the ceremony is another total no-no part of your difficult job as a PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer is corralling a group of 10 or so young people on their way to a party. You need to know where they are at all times ESPECIALLY this time as it is one of the most important times of the day. The wedding party is always going to be tempted to slip away to have some fun that is why you follow them and do not let them out of your site you as the photographer have access to all the places that the wedding party does there are no private rooms you cannot be in if there are you need to know about this ahead of time. Really, the MIL stuff is just par for the course but you exacerbated the issue by dissapearing twice really. I think the only solution to you is to offer them whatever you can to try and placate the issue even if it comes to breaking even you made a couple of really amatuer mistakes and just be happy if you can get away with giving thm a fw extr prints or n upgrade in their album and not get sued.
     

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