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Red Flags to Look for in Wedding Clients

Red Flags to Look for in Wedding Clients

We've all had our fair share of nightmare clients. I'm part of a Facebook group where photographers air their grievances and seek advice from their peers on how to handle certain situations. A recent topic of conversation was sharing stories of nightmare wedding clients and potential red flags they look for during their initial consultation. See below for some of my favorites.

  1. “My mom wants to talk with you since she’s paying.”

  2. Haggling

  3. Asking for raw/unedited images

  4. Wanting to edit the contract after already signing

  5. "We like your $2000 package, but saw a competitor offer something similar for $900. Will you price match?"

  6. “We want a copyright release on the photos, because my fiancé will edit the photos himself.”

  7. “When they have a list of questions printed out like ‘what do you wear to a wedding?’”

  8. “Talking s***t about a previous photographer they’ve worked with.”

  9. “Parents who push me on my booking policies (paying in full in advance), asking what’s to keep me from bailing with their money.”

  10. “Can I have a list of past brides and their contact information?”

  11. “I’m already three months pregnant and don’t want our family to know I'm pregnant at our wedding in four months.”

  12. “I met them for a consult and the bride told me she was getting married in a dark cave at 6 pm, but wanted no lighting, flash, or even the shutter to click.”

  13. “I don’t get along with my future in-laws, so I want them in as few photos as possible.”

  14. “One groom told me he didn’t want to give me permission to use photos because I would ‘make money’ from it.”

  15. "My fiancé is in the witness protection program. Are you able to photograph the wedding wearing Kevlar? It's really very lightweight!"

What are some of your nightmare wedding client stories? How did you handle any crazy situations? Share them in the comments section below! 

Lead image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash used under Creative Commons.

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76 Comments

Previous comments
John Martin's picture

Price shoppers who think all photographers are the same.

Rifki Syahputra's picture

#15 is similar to have a client in Gaza

Jim Cutler's picture

This isn't exactly on the subject but it always makes me laugh: A friend had couple ask to cancel their contract saying they forgot they had a cousin who's got a really good camera.

g coll's picture

To illustrate that point I said the same thing to an accountant about my cousin who has a really good calculator. Confusion ensued.

Pete Oliver's picture

“My mom wants to talk with you since she’s paying.” Sounds reasonable that you would want to speak with the person paying the bill.
Haggling. A perfectly legitimate business practice that most financial advisers would advise clients to try.
Asking for raw/unedited images. No harm in asking.
Wanting to edit the contract after already signing. Again, no harm in trying.
"We like your $2000 package, but saw a competitor offer something similar for $900. Will you price match?". Legitimate practice. Maybe you have not put forward a case to prove your work is worth $1100. More.
“We want a copyright release on the photos, because my fiancé will edit the photos himself.” Fair call, if that is what the client wants. There is not much use keeping the raw files of a couple you don’t know, will probably never meet again, who wont want their image used in other arenas.
“When they have a list of questions printed out like ‘what do you wear to a wedding?’”. A fair and reasonable idea, people like to plan, and also want the hired help to blend in with the theme.
“Talking s***t about a previous photographer they’ve worked with.”. The client can do this, the professional photog cant.
“Parents who push me on my booking policies (paying in full in advance), asking what’s to keep me from bailing with their money.” With the recent stories of wedding photographers taking months to deliver the final product, it seems fair to want to withhold partial payment until completion.
“Can I have a list of past brides and their contact information?” There has been many wedding photographers who have stated that people should ask around, look at previous work, and speak with satisfied customers before committing. Maybe ask satisfied customers to be references of your work and service.
“I’m already three months pregnant and don’t want our family to know I'm pregnant at our wedding in four months.” It takes all kinds of people….
“I met them for a consult and the bride told me she was getting married in a dark cave at 6 pm, but wanted no lighting, flash, or even the shutter to click.” A tough assignment, but sounds like an interesting challenge. Would also be awesome if it all went to plan.
“I don’t get along with my future in-laws, so I want them in as few photos as possible.” Every wedding ever..
“One groom told me he didn’t want to give me permission to use photos because I would ‘make money’ from it.” Your paid to shoot their wedding, they are not professional models, and probably don’t want their images used everywhere.
"My fiancé is in the witness protection program. Are you able to photograph the wedding wearing Kevlar? It's really very lightweight!" Another interesting and tough challenge. Maybe change neighbourhoods.

imagecolorado's picture

I had to add a clause to my contracts to cover the possibility of a drunk attendee threatening me. On a number of occasions, someone got drunk and extremely obnoxious. One guy threatened me if I took his photo at the reception. One "brother-in-law" was so drunk, he fell into the cake during the cake cutting while climbing over plants I was shooting from to get video. He saw how I worked that position and barged right in to take over and fall in into the cake.

I once had a herd of cows stroll through the reception.

Life is weird.

Deleted Account's picture

:-D

regan albertson's picture

Add to the list, If they troll F-stoppers, Peta-whatever or other blog, It's really easy. for photogs and clients; if you can't have it your way, you need a different shooter or client. If you want the raws, hire a student or someone that doesn't care, as you don't want pay a creative, you want a clicker. If I don't like the release on the contract, it's not my photog, I need to go a different place or person. There is no reason to get nasty about it. As far as dealing with the drama, photographers have to work, not solve family issues. I guess it is deciding if the check is worth it.

Deleted Account's picture

Just curious... You seem to be saying there's no skill in taking the photos, only in the processing. That can't be right. Personally, I don't understand what the big deal is regarding RAWS for weddings, etc.

regan albertson's picture

All I was saying is there is someone for everyone. A photog that wants to control every artistic aspect is not a good fit for the ala carte client. If someone wants to control their raws, so be it. If someone wants to click and dash, sounds good, if that's what the client wants to pay. The entire process of successfully capturing an event, to me includes everything; before capture until the images are delivered and requires skills that the photographer bases their reputation on. When I'm shooting second and I give my raws to the primary, it's because I trust them to process well as it is their reputation . I do not allow anyone else to process my images

Deleted Account's picture

Got it! Thanks for the explanation. :-)

Blake Aghili's picture

One told me she wants to see the list of my BACKUP photographer to choose from in case I get sick and can't shoot the wedding for them...before signing the contract .... I was like you also give me a list of brides getting married on the same day as you so I can choose from :D

Deleted Account's picture

I would never think of that but, honestly, I don't see how that's so unreasonable.

Blake Aghili's picture

What prevents her from not picking one of the photographers I am introducing to her as her main photographer for a lower price ? She hadn't even signed a contract

Deleted Account's picture

Good point. The devil's in the details. :-)

Blake Aghili's picture

Also when I say images in two weeks, don't text me at the end of first week! OK ? Two weeks .. ok ? two