Bride Threatens to Withhold Payment Unless Photographer Captures Everything on Her List

Bride Threatens to Withhold Payment Unless Photographer Captures Everything on Her List

It's always nice when you find a client who knows exactly what they want and have no issue communicating that to the photographer, but is this bride going too far by refusing to pay her wedding photographer the final payment unless they capture everything on her five-page checklist?

There may be situations when a potential client is struggling to explain what their exact requirements are or they may not give you enough input when it comes to organizing a shoot. However, when it comes to wedding photography, it's quite common to eventually run into what may be called a "bridezilla", namely, an intolerably demanding client who is insistent in running things her way only, and would provide her input more than required for the job to run smoothly.

In a recent Facebook post, one bride-to-be laid out her advice to other brides and grooms, by explaining that she would not be paying her photographer their final payment, unless her five-page long checklist of must-have photographs has been fully ticked. In her post, the bride assumed that her advice will be helpful to other couples planning their big day, however, she was quickly criticized for her attitude, and looking at her original post, it is not surprising.

Unfortunately, this will not only apply to her photographer, but also to the videographer. As the bride claimed, she will note specific videos she wants recorded in full length, edited, or otherwise. She justified her advice by reminding that her wedding is a once in a lifetime event, and as such she wants to ensure that she receives every single photograph and video that she has envisioned.

Unsurprisingly, others quickly reminded the bride that this is not how the process works, and the photographer and videographer will provide a contract on their terms, not otherwise. Equally, others explained that the general booking process involves paying a deposit upon booking the service, followed with final balance days or weeks before the wedding date, depending on each photographer or videographer's terms and conditions. 

Upon seeing client requests such as these, it may be beneficial to revisit your contract and ensure that your contract is up to date and you have protected yourself from similar issues, should any ensue. It's unknown whether a particular photographer and videographer have already been booked by the bride concerned, but hopefully the bride will revisit her demands and minimize the risk of feeling let down, should certain requested shots and videos be impossible or be missed. For some of us, this may be a reminder about the realities of wedding industry.

What would your response be, if a client approached you with such specific demands?

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David Penner's picture

Easy solution. Don't give the bride any photos till you get paid.

Jason Whelehon's picture

Exactly. 100% of my time was paid for by the deposit. You don't need to pay me and I'll just archive your photos until you pay.

Clay Wegrzynowicz's picture

Even better, don't show up unless the balance is paid in full a week before the wedding.

Paul Scharff's picture

Easier solution: Don't accept the job.

Andy Hellinx's picture

Unfortunately photographing a wedding is not (just) about the money for me, but also about happy customers, beautiful photos and emotions in a picture.

"You don't have a picture of a friend" or "I am missing that picture that you took when I was..." hurts me as a photographer, not in my wallet.

Rob Davis's picture

She can request whatever she wants. I would not accept those terms though. Nor do I know anyone who would.

Robert Nurse's picture

All this for 3 easy payments of just $19.99! I wouldn't do this wedding without an ironclad contract upfront!

charlie sanders's picture

A micromanager client is your cue to RUN ! These types of clients are the ones I’ll avoid., it’s the beginning of a very long session.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I always found that establishing expectations as soon as possible in the wedding booking process did two things. First, it reduced the number of wedding I shot as brides would often go with photographers that agreed to everything. And, second, I never did get my fair share of difficult couples. By establishing 'norms,' by educating my couples about the process when we first met, I weeded out couples like this.

All this to say, I often blame the photographer in these cases as often as the bride.

Geez though, what a story, thanks for finding and sharing!!!

Jeff Walsh's picture

My guess...she also is only paying $300-$500 total for both photos and video. Wouldn't touch this job

Andrew Eaton's picture

This is the kind of client you filter out at the first meeting... I will always have a pre wedding meeting about 3 months before and a walk though about a week before. Set expectations, manage expectations and then see how much they want to pay for their moon on a stick...

Deleted Account's picture

Upon seeing a list like that, I'd walk away from the initial meeting and wish her luck.

I have done too, The dog was to be centre of one wedding, a fashionable Fugly Pug, with bow, carrying rings, say at the head table with them, people must have photos with the dog, etc, etc.
I finished my coffee and politely said, I'm the wrong photographer for them. My Saturday at home with my family is worth more to me than dealing with that. I'll do weddings for friends, people I know and people who really chase me down to do it, because they want me to do it, not just a button presser. works out 1 a year, tops.

David Penner's picture

My uncle does video work and actually refuses to do anything with family. He says family seems to be the worst for expectations and when shit hits the fan you can't just walk away.

Paul Parkinson's picture

Run away from her. Don't look back. Just run.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

I am not a pro but I seriously wonder if you want a client like this. She seems like a nightmare.

David Penner's picture

I've had a few people tell me I should start to shoot weddings since it's good money. Its far too much stress and the expectations from some of these brides is insane.
I work in the oil industry and a mistake could kill me and if I'm working it's usually because something is messed up and costing the company my yearly salary every hour. It's still still less stress and the expectations are still lower than what some of these bridzillas expect out of the photographer. Lol

Pieter Batenburg's picture

My cousin's girlfriend works for a secondary school with a lot of very rich children. If they don't a high enough grade, they will send a lawyer(I am not kidding) in a country where sueing someone is very rare.
Suppose you get one of these parents as a client. That would be a nightmare.

Motti Bembaron's picture

"...Upon seeing client requests such as these, it may be beneficial to revisit your contract and ensure that your contract is up to date and you have protected yourself from similar issues, should any ensue..."

Unfortunately, brides like this do not care about contracts, they see only what THEY want. Do not deliver any photos until you are paid in full.

I once met with a mother of the bride to close up the details (I should have known then that it would be an undesirable situation). She was more concerned about her affluent gsests than her daughter's wedding, supplying me with a VERY long list of photos I needed to take.

I called her back on my way back from the meeting and informed her that I am not the photographer for her.

Tony Clark's picture

And she then proceeded to send the guest list a script to ensure that her list would be completed. Alright, everyone to their marks the Wedding is about to start!

Jason Lorette's picture

Not a chance in hell would I be shooting that wedding. First (after laughing outrageously in my head) I would be the person, like others here, that attempts to 'educate', that's not how it works, payment in advance, etc. If she persisted, then I am not your photographer, b-bye.

Kang Lee's picture

Reminds me of a couple, we sat down for our first meeting and the first they said:

''We wanted to let you know that we will sue you if we are not satisfied with the photos''

Needless to say we didn't close.

Jim Bolen's picture

Wow, I would have just packed up my stuff and walked out.

Joel Manes's picture

Life's too short for that crap. RUN!

Chad D's picture

sure we can do that I must have a check list and a place for you to initial each one plan on a extra 5-10 hours to create this and a extra $4000 for the quality second I will need and time I will need to do this !

but I will need this $4000 up front to start along with my %50 down on my normal fee up front to start and of course balance due the night of the wedding

sign here please

David Pavlich's picture

If it's not in the SIGNED CONTRACT, then it's not going to happen. I'm not a wedding photographer, but my son is. He has three packages that he works from. Any additions add to the cost of the package. In this case, I could picture him saying that he'd do it, but he's going to hire two additional shooters at X amount per shooter, paid in full before the wedding. Thinks she'd accept those terms? Yea, right.

James Van Hees's picture

It’s quite simple actually. I’ve shot weddings for over 15 years and I’ve had maybe a handful of these type requests. No problem. Talk to your client, work with them, and you will realize this isn’t about a list, but a lack of confidence that they will receive what they want.

So either a) you haven’t given them confidence b) you haven’t walked them through your offering or c) they have been influenced by someone who has been burnt before.

Go over the list ..... chances are 95% of what is on there you usually shoot anyways with a blindfold on. So If you are being hired to shoot a list ... shoot a list ..... if it’s going to cost you more, let them know!

I cover my costs upfront and I make my gravy by delivering results. A simple reviewer of what was being asked and a quick conversation always cleared these things up. Worst comes to worse you can not come to an agreement ..... walk away from the job. No big deal. Just another day on the farm. Clients ..... you gotta love them.

Luke Adams's picture

Excellent response. A little communication goes a long way. I often walk into a car lot with quite a bit of attitude as well, when in reality the salesperson is a stand up guy, doing an honest days work.

Julian Ray's picture


Thank you Ma'am. Please accept my wishes to both you and your soon to be husband for a long and joyous adventure together.
Here is my card and I look forward to working together some time in the future.

Susan Brown's picture

I had a woman contact me through my website email and ask if I was available on a particular date, no details. I responded saying I was available, but that we needed to have a call to understand what she was looking for. She responded via email to tell me that she wanted to know my price so she could give me a credit card to book, it was for an engagement party, she didn't have the venue yet, but I was to be available for 5 hours to shoot a party with 80 guests and she expected all the digital files on a CD. Since I require a pre-shoot consultation and a contract to set and agree upon expectations, and I don't give all my files to a client, I politely declined. My internal reaction was "are you kidding me?"

Luke Adams's picture

That might have been the beginning of a common scam where they actually send you extra money so you can also pay the caterer, etc (because they are out of town and need it done quick). Once you receive all the money and pay the caterer (who is actually just the scammer), you will find the original payment is no good.

I’ve had that scam attempted on me a couple times, and it was very similar. Very few details and communication, and in a hurry to pay you.

Jim Bolen's picture

I've had that scam emailed to me maybe a couple of dozen times.

M M's picture

I don't do wedding photography but if the expectations are laid out clearly upfront I don't see a problem. The photographer can decide if he/she can do the shots and quote a price. I think I would prefer it that way.

michaeljin's picture

LOL! Ok.

Percy Ortiz's picture

my contract says "full payment is needed before any photography work may commence" problem solved. Lets move on... I read something about a penis camera? :P

Mark Johnson's picture

Find another photographer.

Dave Terry's picture

Send her an itemized price list for each of her requests with true ala-carte pricing (which is always higher than package pricing) on top of a large flat fee.

Pedro Pulido's picture

she's got it wrong from start to finish. If i'm getting married, i will look at potential photographers portfolios and then BASED on that and pricing/availability/product package etc - then i decide if i move forward with him/her or someone else..

Therefore, my asnwer would be "i'm sorry, but this is not how i work. Here is the contract i present to every couple getting married. If you like my work and want me to shoot your wedding, it will be my pleasure. If you don't agree with the contract, then i wish you a very happy wedding and hope you can find the right person"

it would be interesting to find out how this story ends.

Deacon Blues's picture

If she treats her husband any way close to this, don't worry, there will be more chances to get those "once in a lifetime" (lol) shots.

Will Prentice's picture

Did you notice how short the shot list is for the groom? Her list runs off the screen and he's in 3 photos lol And I don't see any "Bride and Groom" together shots ahaha Run, buddy, RUN!!

Deleted Account's picture

I would not consider myself a professional wedding photographer, but in the half dozen weddings I have done, after the one first, I figured out what trips one up. Firstly, always meet with both the bride and groom to make sure they know you are in charge and that if there are others with cameras to look at your camera as a priority. Second, ask them to put a list of about 8 captures they want of their family members and insist that maid of honor have a copy and on the day connect with maid of honor. Then make bride and groom understand that the photography part takes much longer than we plan, particularly if they want magazine like poses. I would not give a bride the photos until they paid.

amanda daniels's picture

I am guessing she didn't hire a photographer yet? Because no photographer in their right mind would agree to her terms, not only the requested photos but the payment not being paid before her event. This is why I didn't want to get into weddings, but I did and this is why I only take on clients that I want to work with. I am sure she will have a hard time finding a photographer, because most (hopefully all) are going to turn her down. And whoever she does hire, I feel sorry for them. No amount of money is worth taking her on as a client.

Anete Lusina's picture

I had the exact same feeling. By the sounds of it, I don't think she thinks too highly of photographers nor does she value the skill and experience it requires to be a good wedding photographer. It sounds like she's after a camera operator that ticks check-boxes of shots, no personality, just a simple transaction of certain shots for a sum of money.

amanda daniels's picture

100% agreed.

Eric Kai's picture

Once bride said that’s she’s not satisfied with pictures becouse GROOM IS NOT REALLY HANDSOME!!! And her 14 years old daughter from previous marriage could shoot better pictures with her sell phone ( I really wish to see her daughter tallented so much)

First sign that I should’nt close that deal was that they asked for a discount from the first words they’ve spoke to me.
They also told me that the wedding is gonna happen in a 15 miles away from city I live.

(Didn’t told me exact location till the last week before wedding. it appeared to be almost 250 miles away)

They made a pre-wedding parties just the night prior the wedding. ( u could imagine the impact on their appearance)

Right at 9am bride’s best friend fried wedding dress with and iron.

As a result I get:
- dissatisfied with her choice bride
- not really much money
- 23 hours shift.

Since that wedding I do ask tonts of questions in a first message. I do warn clients that if they dont like each other it’s not my fault.
And if they are not agree with my contract its okay to shake hands right now and head our own ways.

Later on i quit shooting weddings.
I stopped having inner challenge and currently testing myself with some fashion photography.

Cheers for those who managed to read my really bad English. 👌🏻

Nacona Nix's picture

I want no part of the pressure, drama, or indignity of photographing weddings. I did it once--as a backup, on a lark--for a friend, and charged nothing so there would be no specific expectations. I can't imagine a form of photography where the worker is more alienated from their labor.

Robbie Keene's picture

I understand it can be lucrative but I'd rather shave my head with a cheese grater than shoot a wedding.

Alan Usher's picture

I had a client like this last year. They presented me with an impossible list that was all about ticking boxes, and generally expected me to be in two places at once most of the time, one example being they thought it was reasonable to ask me to shoot both bride and groom prep. They also refused to hire a second shooter, woefully got their estimated journey times between venues wrong, and insisted they didn’t want formal groups so didn’t supply a list of those, then proceeded to ambush me with them on the day.

Of course, I told them I couldn’t be in two places at once throughout the day, they ignored that. They also hired me on the basis that I was a documentary photographer, then expected me to shoot in a completely mechanical way that I simply don’t do. The bride was the most over-entitled individual I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. They also hired a videographer that was so far up his own backside, he refused to collaborate, made my job harder and spent most of the day telling me what I should do.

Add to this, four pays before the wedding shoot, I had surgery for a kidney stone (had a stent fitted), the day was one of the hottest of the year, suffered all day, I didn’t let them down, and peed blood at the end of the night and was a mess physically. I was there an hour and a half over my contracted time and they were brazen about getting me to stay as well. If I say so myself, I did a damn good job, and she had the nerve to complain because I didn’t every shot on her list and asked for a refund.

She even admitted she couldn’t complain at the approx 3000 final edited images I provided, but she kept complaining and even slandered me. I told her she had no basis for complaint or a refund. I’ve been shooting weddings over ten years, never had a client like it before, always use contracts, I’m fully insured (even used the legal advice provided through my insurance) but I learnt rather a lot from that episode, and it wouldn’t happen again.