Why does your wedding photographer or supplier require a deposit?

Why does your wedding photographer or supplier require a deposit?  This is something I’m often asked.  I thought I’d take some time out to explain and hopefully help customers and fellow wedding suppliers in the process.

So to begin with, personally I don’t ask for a deposit to be paid.  I ask for booking fee to be paid.  These two things might sound the same but are two different things.  A booking fee is non-refundable.  A deposit is.  It’s as simple as that.

I can only really speak for myself in the way I work but I know that many other wedding photographers and suppliers work along the same lines as myself.  When I take a booking, it’s not a case of taking the booking fee, sitting on it and then spending the day capturing the wedding.  Rather, I begin work on that wedding the moment the booking fee is paid.

For a start, that secures the date in my diary.  I then turn away any other enquiries that may come in for that day, referring out to other photographers I know who may be able to support that couple. The planning begins. Regardless of whether I have shot at that venue previously or not I research the venue.  If the venue is in the UK I will visit that venue at least once in the run up to the wedding day.  This often takes an entire day out of my diary but I feel it is an important part of the process giving my couples peace of mind.  It means I’m fresh and familiar on the day with my surroundings.

I also make myself available for my couples.  Everyone is different.  Some like to meet regularly, every month or so.  Others are quite informal and contact me as and when they feel necessary.  There is also the pre wedding shoot to consider.  I’m flexible with this in terms of location.  At present, if the shoot is within the UK, great.  If it’s overseas, then I’ll ask for a little more to cover travel and accommodation costs for the shoot.  But again, this can take a chunk out of my diary, sometimes dedicating a day or two for that one shoot.  Thankfully I love travelling and getting out and about so I have no issue with distance.  I know of some photographers who insist that the pre wedding shoot be done within a 50 mile radius of base!

I’ve heard comments in the past along the lines of “Wedding suppliers get paid a deposit for doing absolutely nothing”.  Well, as you can already see, a hell of a lot of work has already been done prior to the big day.

The day itself, the work I do is quite obvious if at times very discreet.  But after a shoot of anything between 8-15 hours, there is a lot of work left to do.  Backing up images on site and off site, editing, clean down of equipment ready for the next shoot, design, ordering and preparation of finished products and then delivery.  This is another few days of work at least following the wedding day.

So as you can see, a wedding supplier’s work is a little like an iceberg.  There’s a hell of a lot of work that goes on unseen behind the scenes.  If a couple cancels their booking close to the big day, then that work can’t realistically be expected to go unpaid.  You wouldn’t expect to book a holiday and cancel with a few weeks or months to go and expect them to pay you back for example.  They need to protect their business.  And it’s the same with a wedding supplier.

I also use the fees paid to ensure equipment is maintained, repaired and maintained, to continuously train and develop my skills and maintain professional standards and memberships to make sure my couples get the best service possible.  It all goes towards providing peace of mind.  Plus, and I’m talking from my own point of view here although I know I speak for many other suppliers, this isn’t just my passion.  It’s my job and livelihood and I’ve got two amazing kids who I need to provide for.  It’s not about having a flash lifestyle.  Wedding photography isn’t as glamourous as it’s made up to be.  And anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t go for materialistic things.  As long as I’m loving my job and have two happy kids (and we get to see our beloved West Ham every now and again!)

So when you’re looking at perspective wedding suppliers and you wonder why they’re asking for a booking fee take this all into account.  They’re doing a hell of a lot of work for you in the lead up to the big day.  You don’t book them for one day only.  You’re getting their expertise and support from day one.

jamie penfold photography


  1. Karen Julia · January 25, 2015

    Great article! There’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes!

  2. Lizz Riley · January 25, 2015

    Can’t believe some people think you’re getting paid for doing nothing! Oh, if it were that easy!

    Great article.

  3. Megan · January 25, 2015

    Interesting to see how much work happens behind the scenes! You sound very dedicated to your job. Mx

  4. Lynne Burns · January 25, 2015

    I think this is a great post – informative for prospective couples so they can fully understand the value of the service provided.

  5. Priti · January 25

    Love this – Great break down for potential clients and even photographers who may be new to the business.