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Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding

Wow - I just never thought this would happen.  My fiance and I won a wedding photography contest last fall for our Julyy 14th wedding.  Now, just 2 weeks before the wedding the photographer is saying she can't make it and that it is due to illness and there is a clause in the contract that says she can do this.

Not only did we not budget for photography because we won the contest, but the first few places I have called are all booked since we are so close to the event date. 

Has anyone experienced this?  What should I do?  I am so upset!!!

Re: Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding

  • edited June 2012
    I guess you could post on your local board to see if anyone has any photog suggestions.

    Seems weird that your current photog is cancelling due to illness, 2 weeks out.

    Good luck!

    Edited to add: Try your local craigslist and colleges too, just be careful when handing over money, be sure to have a contract etc.
    Anniversary
  • Since you are only two weeks out, my first priority would be finding a new photographer. Anyone that is not booked this close to the date might give you some kind of discount, especially if you tell them what happened. Don't book anything you can't afford, but see if they would be willing to work out a payment plan since this is such short notice to get the money together. But yeah after the wedding I would be all over sueing the first photographer. That is ridiculous. And most photographers have a second photographer that they work with...she should be able to recommend someone to you.
    "When life hands you lemons, make a beef stew." Andy Milinokis
  • In Response to Re: Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding:
    After the wedding, sue the photographer in small claims court for breach of contract.  Also notify whatever bridal association this vendor was working through (whoever put on the bridal show, if that's where you won the services) and let them know what this photographer is doing to you.  It should be the photographer's responsibility to find you a qualified replacement or refund to you the full retail value of your prize.
    Posted by LucyHC
    This for sure. Does she have Cancer or something? This really sucks...I wish I knew more photographers in CO, I would try to help you out. The photographer should know some photographers who work for him/her that can cover the event.
  • Certain serious illnesses do have long treatment plans. Think cancer. She doesn't have to share with you the details of her illness. My mother got sick (not cancer) and asked that we pause wedding planning while she was in treatment. I just told our vendors (who were expecting us to decide on contracts, send in deposits, etc., that month) that we were putting everything on pause until a certain date due to a family illness. For our Monday-in-November wedding, the vendors all held our date without a deposit.

    DOES the contract contain such a provision? That's the first question. Also consider complaining now and later to everyone connected with this contest. Chances are, legally, the contract/prize wasn't just with the photographer, but whoever put on the contest. This is especially important because you probably gave the contest something (cost of a raffle ticket, entry price to an expo, registration/page views on a website). This makes your legal position stronger with the contest.
  • I would ask for a doctor's note, it seems weird but otherwise she could just say it's due to illness.  The contract should have some clause that says if this happens she'll do everything in her power to find you a replacement photographer.  Was there a second shooter included in the contract - what about that person?  I would worry about finding someone to fill her plce right now and sue later.


    I repeat: Doctor's note!!!!!!
  • It can be done. Don't worry and don't freak out. I had almost the same thing happen to me (different circumstances) but with only 6 days before my wedding (and when she gave me back my deposit, I only had 4 days!)...

    Reach out to your friends, family, church and co-workers - someone will know a photographer and could help you network. 

    I was lucky to find someone who worked out a payment plan after hearing about my fiasco - so don't lose hope!

    I'm so sorry this happened and everyone elses advice is great. First things first is the wedding - then take care of the rest.

    Good luck :)
  • In Response to Re: Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding:
    Look at WEBSITE TITLE REMOVED SO AS NOT TO PROMOTE VENDORS WHO CAN'T READ AND FOLLOW RULES ASAP
    Posted by Oxa
    Hey Oxa - I am 100% CERTAIN we have flat-out told you that as a vendor, you are NOT allowed to post on message boards.  That includes BOTH starting your own threads AND posting in others' threads.  Reported.  Knock it off.
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  • Sorry to hear that happened! I am a photographer and I have never cancelled. I am in Iowa so I would not be able to it. I do have a friend Jamie in Denver that just got married and the photographer was pretty good. Email me at [email protected] and I can ask her for the info today. Or try craigslist, but make sure that you like the work first and ask a bunch of questions. You want fleeting moments not snapshots! It makes me kind of mad that your photographer would do that. I just signed a wedding that had two photographers back out. I have a clause if I am so ill that I can make it, but I also have to replace with a good one. I would check craigs list and search creative services on the bottom. There are a lot of fakes, but I know there are good ones too! =-)
  • In Response to Re: Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding:
    Certain serious illnesses do have long treatment plans. Think cancer. She doesn't have to share with you the details of her illness. My mother got sick (not cancer) and asked that we pause wedding planning while she was in treatment. I just told our vendors (who were expecting us to decide on contracts, send in deposits, etc., that month) that we were putting everything on pause until a certain date due to a family illness. For our Monday-in-November wedding, the vendors all held our date without a deposit. DOES the contract contain such a provision? That's the first question. Also consider complaining now and later to everyone connected with this contest. Chances are, legally, the contract/prize wasn't just with the photographer, but whoever put on the contest. This is especially important because you probably gave the contest something (cost of a raffle ticket, entry price to an expo, registration/page views on a website). This makes your legal position stronger with the contest.
    Posted by ElisabethJoanne
    But this is 2 weeks before the OPs wedding. So either they had something for a long time & didn't want to admit they wouldn't be well enough by that date, or something happened at the last minute. More than likely, they're just going bankrupt or something. I'd be HIGHLY suspicious of any vendor that has a clause in their contract saying they can back out if they get sick. As others have said, they are obligated to find you a replacement. 

    I hope you're able to find someone! 
  • Jaime E.Jaime E. member
    10 Comments
    edited July 2012
    1. You have absolutely NO idea what is actually going on in this photographer's life. She/He could actually be very ill or have something catostraphic happen in their life. Vendors are people too and have actual lives where actual tragedies may be occuring. I have a friend who has to cancel a few weddings becaus she just found out her teenage son has cancer. I have another photographer friend whose son died last week in a tragic accident. Before you go badmouthing someone's business and potentially causing damage to their livelihood, communicate with your photographer and find out what's up. 
    2. Look at your contract and the details of the contest, does it say they can cancel for any reason at any time? If so, then you can't sue them. 
    3. Talk to the photographer and see what recommendations she/he has. If they're cancelling for a legit reason, they probably feel horrible and will do whatever they can to make sure you're not left hanging. 
    4. If you're still having trouble, email me, I know lots of photographers in Colorado and I might be able to help you. [email protected]

  • In Response to Re: Help! Photographer Cancelling 2 Weeks Before Wedding:
    1. You have absolutely NO idea what is actually going on in this photographer's life. She/He could actually be very ill or have something catostraphic happen in their life. Vendors are people too and have actual lives where actual tragedies may be occuring. I have a friend who has to cancel a few weddings becaus she just found out her teenage son has cancer. I have another photographer friend whose son died last week in a tragic accident. Before you go badmouthing someone's business and potentially causing damage to their livelihood, communicate with your photographer and find out what's up.  2. Look at your contract and the details of the contest, does it say they can cancel for any reason at any time? If so, then you can't sue them.  3. Talk to the photographer and see what recommendations she/he has. If they're cancelling for a legit reason, they probably feel horrible and will do whatever they can to make sure you're not left hanging.  4. If you're still having trouble, email me, I know lots of photographers in Colorado and I might be able to help you. [email protected]
    Posted by Jaime E.
    1.  I completely understand that photographers are real people with real lives.
    2.  There is a cancellation clause in the contract that required 30 days notice in writing - which we didn't get.
    3.  If she had chosen to communicate with me rather than just leave me with a "I don't know if I can do your wedding" with 2 weeks to go - and not a word since -  I might have more sympathy for her.  It is simply bad business to leave someone hanging with absolutely no communication.
  • Hey shooten, believe me, I totally understand this is a stressful time and my comments weren't directed at you and I should have made that more clear. I just get tired of seeing photographers get raked over the coals and get zero leeway when bad things happen in their lives. However, it sounds like this may not be the case with your situation.

    Have you tried multiple times and in several ways (email, phone calls) to get a hold of the photographer? I would contact her in writing and get a definitive response from her about wether or not she will be available for your wedding. Harrass her... I would. Keep all communication between the two of you (even if it's one sided). Do you have a planner? Put them into action helping you find a photographer. You're taking a gamble by hitting up Craigslist, but it's better than nothing. Like I wrote before, you can email me and I can put you in contact with great photographer's in Colorado that might be able to help you out. Maybe they can come up with a payment plan.
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