I've spent much of today working on a new wedding photographer contract. This is an adapted version of our existing standard terms and conditions for photographers. There are quite a few features of wedding photography documents that differentiate them from other kinds of photography contract. Having been through the adaptation process, I would recommend that any wedding photographer not using a contract specifically adapted for weddings should be thinking about doing so.
So, what are the differences?
Perhaps the most fundamental difference is that a wedding contract will often have two customers: the bride and the groom. In any contract that has more than two parties, there is added complexity. Whilst it is to be hoped that every bride and groom will be of a single mind, the agreement governing wedding photography must assume that they might not be.
Questions that are raised by the possibility of the agreement having three parties include:
- On what basis are the customers (i.e. the bride and groom) liable to fulfil their obligations under the contract? In the template, drafted primarily to protect the interests of the photographer, I have suggested "joint and several" liability.
- Where notices must be given to the customers, must they be given to both?
- Where consents are required from the customers, must they be obtained by both?
- Where the customers have some right under the contract, must they be in agreement to exercise that right?
- On what basis do the customers hold any licences or IP rights assigned under the contract?
This issue is made more difficult to deal with by the fact that, in some cases, the contract will be with just the bride, or just the groom, or indeed some other person involved with the wedding. To cope with the possibility of a single document being used in both scenarious, I have added a special "two customers" clause, which answers the questions listed above.
A second difference relates to cancellation. Wedding photography contracts will usually be B2C rather than B2B, and a question arises as to the reasonableness of any cancellation charges. In many B2B contracts, the customer will remain liable for the full amount of the charges due under the contract if it is terminated by the customer; but I felt that in the case of a wedding photography contract this approach may be unreasonable and therefore unenforceable under UCTA.
With this in mind, I have introduced the concept of an agreed cancellation charge. This should be set at a level to reflect the real likely losses of the photographer in the event of cancellation, taking into account the possibility of those losses being mitigated. If the wedding is cancelled at least X days before it was due to take place, the customers would be liable to pay the cancellation charge only.
Other differences between the standard T&Cs and the wedding-specific T&Cs include:
- the removal of B2B provisions;
- special obligations relating to the production of the wedding album; and
- adaptation of the moral rights provisions to take account of the fact that weddings will almost always be "private and domestic".
You can get the new template here: terms and conditions of business (wedding photography).