Wedding Contracts – I’ll show you mine if you…

Dec 1, 2008 | Business, Wedding | 8 comments

Right from the start of my first wedding photography career I’ve had a contract between myself and my clients. At first, I cobbled together a contract from ones I’d seen in a magazine article but it soon became clear that I needed a custom contract for my business.

A still from the new Big Day DVD.

How to arrange casual groups with a moment both created and captured is a key learning element of the new 'Lovegrove Big Day' DVD. This still from the wedding is just one of 200+ pictures shown being created by Julie & I from our perspective.

I drafted a contract highlighting the key elements I wanted included and I took it to a solicitor for the finishing touches. It’s worth mentioning a top tip at this point – If you don’t have a solicitor you can usually get a free half hour initial consultation and a cup of coffee as way of an introduction. If you are really hard up you can modify your contract, implementing the guidance you got from solicitor 1 before trying another solicitor for a further refinement and another complimentary cup of coffee. The important thing to mention here is do use the solicitor that gave you the best service in the future. Next time you move house or need professional advice for instance.

I’m no expert but I do know this… A contract needs to be fair and equal in all it’s elements. That is, if you are taking money from a client they need to receive product and services in exchange.

Another still from the 'Big Day' DVD shows that at weddings you often have to work with children and animals.

Another still from our 'Big Day' DVD demonstrates that on occasions you have to work with both children and animals. Good rapport building techniques is vital for both.

I was nearly forced to use the MPA (Master Photographers Association) contract by the company that provides me with my professional indemnity insurance until I explained to their solicitor why my contract better suited our business than the MPA one. He agreed it was a better, more balanced contract and all was well. Basically, I wanted to make provision for compensation in the event of a late cancellation of the contract by my client. After all, I’ve held that date free in my diary just for them and I refused any other work or leisure appointments as a result. This was worth money in my book and I set out to have a cancellation clause built into the contract.

You see me take this classic Lovegrove shot too on the 'Big Day' DVD.

You see me take this classic Lovegrove shot too on the 'Big Day' DVD.

The contract may well refer to other documents like a brochure an FAQ sheet, a privacy policy or other terms and conditions. In these circumstances the supporting documents form part of the contract.

Julie and I have photographed many barristers and solicitors weddings over the past 10 years and we have always implemented the small tweaks to our contract that they have recommend along the way.

This shot was a one take wonder. Julie held the flash and Damien took the picture with the camera held above his head.

This shot was a one take wonder. Julie held the flash and I took the picture with the camera held above my head. The 'Big Day' DVD has the whole day covered with nothing left out.

Please feel free to be ‘inspired by’ the bits of our contracts that might suit your business and then get professional advice once you have a draft in place. We cannot be held responsible for the consequences of any errors or omissions. Please respect our copyright and don’t republish this article in part or in full.

The Lovegrove_contract

The Lovegrove product guide

The Lovegrove FAQs

The ‘Big Day’ DVD

Please feel free to comment and link back to your contract etc.

8 Comments

  1. Tim Hind

    Very usefull advice. I’m using one based on the BIPP guide but think I’ll seek more advice from a solicitor!

    Reply
    • damien

      Thanks Tim,
      Get as much of your contract written yourself and then get it checked by a solicitor. I hope you never need to refer to your contract again once it’s written.
      Damien.

      Reply
  2. damien

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for your legal advice. It is important to get these things right from the start and you have demonstrated just why that is. Regards, Damien.

    Reply
  3. Matthew Wells

    Very Important!! – from a Law graduate turned photographer!
    Regardless of how good your terms and contract are, make sure that, that they are actually incorporated into the contract before or at the time the contract takes place – which is when there is acceptance of an offer. Many businesses out there, in all fields, fail in this regard, and its very easy to do so. Then, if there is a dispute, and the other side take the right advice, they could suceed in having any terms you are seeking to rely on excluded.

    Here is an example: someone contacts you and asks you to shoot their wedding by email, you reply with the cost and say you are available on that day. They respond accepting. Subsequently they come and see you and you get them to sign your contract and terms. In this example you could be precluded from relying on these terms to protect your position in the contract. The contract was already concluded when they came to see you, and it’s a hard and fast rule of the law of contract that you can’t incorporate terms after this point.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many companies spend a lot of money drafting excellent terms, but fail to incorporate them into the contract. The other classic one is terms printed on the reverse of an invoice – again these are not incorporated because an invoice is issued persuant to an already concluded contract (usually). If there was a course of dealings – ie. if the same terms were issued on future invoices for future deals then they potentially could become incorporated, but it’s far from satisfactory.

    In this area check out:

    Olley V Marlborough Court Ltd [1949]
    Interfoto Picture Library Ltd V Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd [1989]
    Poseidon Freight Forwarding Co. Ltd. V Davies Turner Southern Ltd [1996]
    Thornton V Shoe Lane Parking [1971] (a Lord Denning classic)

    Matt

    Reply
  4. damien

    Thanks Sarah,

    Information like this is just what we all need to share and learn from.

    Damien.

    Reply
  5. Sarah Vivienne

    I sought advice on this earlier this year from a lawyer – his recommendation was to add a clause that specifies in which country/state the contract is governed by.

    My contract states ‘this contract is governed by the laws of England and is subject to the jurisdiction of the English courts’.

    That way the contract will hold wherever the wedding or client is, and if I ever do have to attend court it will be in England and not involve travel out of the country.

    Hope this helps.

    Sarah

    Reply
  6. damien

    Hi John,

    My answer is that I’m not sure. The vast majority of contract law is common sense, the rest is the sort of stuff only professionals can understand;-) I’d seek advice from a solicitor for the final tweaks.

    We have used the same contract for our US clients getting married in Europe, London clients getting married in Scotland and just about every combination of UK weddings. Thankfully we have never had to test the contract in a court of law.

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  7. JohnL

    Damien,

    Its great to see you peel-back the layers of the business onion so deep, alongside your great photography. Do you need to tweak the contract or other Ts & Cs when shooting through the UK eg. NI vs Scottishvs English law ?

    J

    Reply

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