Wedding Vendor Retainers/Deposits Explained

Why do wedding vendors insist on a non-refundable retainer or deposit? After all, if you don’t use them, they didn’t incur any expenses. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. Each time a vendor meets with a potential client, they are investing time and possibly money in an attempt to get a new client. Sometimes, the client walks away and other times they book the vendor.

Let me digress for a moment. While you might like to think your wedding is the event of the year, in reality, not all weddings are created equal. Not all clients will provide the same profit potential for all of the vendors. True a band will get the same fees regardless of the size of the wedding. Even then, some wedding will book the band for 4 hours and others for 6.

It is important to remember the contract you sign with your vendors is a two way street. In return for giving the vendor money today, your vendor is promising to show up at your wedding to provide the services you requested. Now it does not matter if the vendor is a one person operation or a large corporation. All vendors have a capacity limit. It could be one event a weekend or a hundred, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter that at some point, your vendor will reach capacity and have to turn potential customers away.

In some respects weddings are very much like airplanes. Each plane has a set number of seats and you can’t put extra people on the plane. On the other hand, when the plane leaves the gate with an empty seat, there is no way to ever fill that seat. The revenue potential from the empty seat is gone forever. When a wedding vendor has an open day, they’ve lost the chance to earn income on that day.

Finally, putting this all together. When you book a vendor, they are promising to be at your wedding and turn away other potential business for the same date. Should you change your mind the vendor may have lost the opportunity to earn a living on that particular day. In addition, most vendors cannot afford to have clients cancel for no reason. If this were to happen, clients would book a vendor and then shop for a better deal.

In the end, all vendors have differing policies for canceling a contract. Some are outright forfeiture and others will provide a refund should they rebook the date. Some will even give a refund for extenuating circumstances (ie. military deployment, family illness). Should you need, wish or desire to cancel your contract with your wedding vendor, you should carefully read your contract to determine the official policy. It never hurts to asks for a refund, but don’t be surprised if the vendor says “No.”