Love in the time of COVID-19?
Part I: A dream, postponed
The world as we know it is on pause mode. We are all grieving something right now: our health, our job, our canceled dreams and trips, our financial future. I am a wedding photographer and this article is about canceled/postponed weddings. If your wedding was postponed or if you are a wedding photographer yourself, keep reading!
A “postponed dream”: this season’s weddings have been described as such. It has affected couples, families and businesses. (Disclaimer: it has affected everyone. This article is focusing on these groups of people).
The “good” thing is that it’s global. You are not the only one suffering the consequences. The bad thing is that it’s global. Thus, pretty serious.
I wanted to take a moment and explore both perspectives: the photographers and the couples, as they are both dealing with the consequences, in different ways:
I’ve been in conversation with my colleagues around the world and all of them are facing the same issues right now: anxiety, being out of job, still paying taxes for deposits they received for weddings that are probably not happening (or at least not this year), cancelled contracts, refunds, stressed clients…
Couples were forced to change their wedding plans. For most people, planning their wedding has been a personal or a family investment and a wedding is not something cheap. Nerve-wracking as it is to just pick a date and start organizing everything – from venues, to vendors and guests – under normal circumstances, imagine the chaos and stress that is caused by having to move everything due to a pandemic.
Let me say here that even though I am struggling with the consequences of this myself as a small business owner, I completely understand how stressful and frustrating it must be for the couples: We, photographers, get to shoot several weddings per year but they are only getting married once (in their majority). I completely understand the frustration and they have all the right to feel this way.
Let’s work together
This is a time for many “masks to fall”: Vendors staying silent or “ghosting” their clients or not even thinking of negotiating about providing them with a flexible solution… Clients threatening photographers with bad reviews on the internet if they don’t get a full refund even though their contract states otherwise (this has never happened to me so far by the way)…
“Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.”
If you are working in the wedding industry I want you to stop for a minute and think about the phrase above. Business is all about networking. And guess what, word of mouth is part of networking too! Do you really think that ghosting your client or basically telling them “well good luck, I’m keeping your deposit and if you want to book me for next year you have to pay a new one” is actually gonna help your business grow?
Contracts exist to protect both sides. This is not a time for most people to make money. On the contrary everybody’s struggling with minimising the damage or even surviving. So why don’t we all try to see the bigger picture in here?
From the other perspective: Our businesses have costs. So many that it can be pretty scary. If you add to the cost of doing business the heavy taxation system in almost every country, the licences, the insurances, the marketing, the physical consequences of being a wedding photographer, the stress and on top of that putting a price on our artistic identity, the numbers can go really high. Losing weddings during the wedding high season or moving them to the next year is resulting in significant losses or even driving small businesses to shut down.
Let’s meet half-way?
This is not a time for “war”. It is also not a time to profit from somebody else’s losses, and definitely not a good time to go completely broke – and that applies to both parties, clients and professionals. Instead, try to sit down, understand each other’s perspective and discuss as civilised human beings using your common sense.
Possible solutions / Food for thought
- If you are a photographer and you have the means to do so, allow your clients to transfer over their deposit to a new date. Showing flexibility will only benefit you long-term.
- If you are not available on the new date, discuss and try to find a solution.Maybe a partial refund would be a good way to go. Remember that these are exceptional circumstances where nobody had control over.
- If you are a couple, understand that if you choose to transfer your wedding to a date on which the photographer is not available you might lose part or even all of your deposit as the professional has already paid taxes for it, reserved the date and even refused to book with other clients that might have been more flexible with search of a new date.
- For couples: try to speak with all the vendors and see the possibility of transferring over to a new date. Most of the vendors have shown flexibility by allowing the already paid fees to transfer over to the new date with no extra fees.
- If you are moving your wedding to 2021 and you have the possibility, consider getting married on a Friday or Sunday. It is easier for you to book ahead for these days than on a Saturday. Apart from that, most small businesses (in my case, photographers) will have the possibility to recover from the losses of this year if they can book non-conventional days in 2021. Saturdays are always the easiest days to book and if all Saturdays of 2021 are occupied from weddings of 2020 (while we get almost 0 income in 2020), it might take us much longer to recover from this, if we manage to keep working on our businesses.
(Check here the pros and cons of getting married on a Friday on The Knot)
“The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.”
Let’s hope this is over soon so that we can go back to celebrating love and all its glory. Until then, stay safe!
All quotes were taken from Gabriel Garcia Marques’s “Love in the time of cholera”.
All the images are intellectual property of Krystallenia Batziou.
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Was your wedding postponed/cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
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