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.”

Milena and Ron’s Rockleigh Country Club Wedding

Milena and Ron were recently married at the Rockleigh Country Club. This was one of the few traveling assignments I’ve had which has taken me out of state. It was quite an experience being at this wedding. The Rockleigh Country Club is a wonderful location for a wedding. My only regret is that it is not in my local area. Perhaps I’ll get lucky to have another client book me for an event at that venue.

Milena's wedding portrait taken at the Rockleigh in New York
If you can look past our lovely bride, Milena, you can see the spacious well kept grounds.

Photograph of Milena and Ron's wedding katubah signing
Here’s the Rabbi filling out the Ketuba, a Jewish wedding contract.

Photo of Milena and Ron's wedding katubah signing at the Rockleigh Country Club
A close up of the document. I’m glad the groom reads Hebrew and knows what he’s signing!

Photograph of the room decor at a Rockleigh Country Club wedding
I really liked this floral arrangement.

The Rockleigh in New York was the site for this photo from Milena and Ron's wedding.
The chuppa, Jewish Wedding Canopy, was all decked out with white roses.

Here are some from the wedding ceremony:
Ron and Milena's wedding photo at the Rockleigh
A unique wedding photo from a Rockleigh New York Wedding
A photo of the happy couple leaving their Rockleigh wedding ceremony.
This is one of my favorite photos from this wedding!

The rest of these photos are from the reception. The Rockleigh has installed an LED uplighting system which can display any color lights. They really add to the elegance of the event. As a photographer I like them because they provide an interesting background to the photos.
The Rockleigh's banquet room was the site for this photo from Ron and Milena's wedding
Ron and Milena's wedding photo at the Rockleigh
The Hora Photo during a Jewish wedding reception at the Rockleigh Country Club in New York
Another Wedding Photo taken during Milena and Ron's wedding at the Rockleigh

In these next two photos, you can see how the lighting has changed to provide a different look to the room.
Photograph of the room decor at a Rockleigh Country Club wedding
Photograph of Ron and Milena's guests dancing during their reception at the Rockleigh

When it was time to cut the cake, the lights were turned back to purple.
Ron and Milena's wedding photograph at the Rockleigh
Another Wedding Photo from Milena and Ron's wedding taken at the Rockleigh Country Club, NY.
The Rockleigh Country Club was the site for this couple's first dance photograph

The Winner Is….

As promised I was at yesterday’s bridal show. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful ladies who are planning their special days. I really wish I’d been able to personally speak with everybody who attended. Anyway, the winner of the frame drawing is Julie Jefferson who is getting married next May. Thank you to everybody who stopped by and entered the drawing.

Scheduling Your Wedding Day — Part 2

The ceremony is over, you’re married, the photos have been taken and now you are on your way to the reception. The time line planning is not over yet! There are still several events to schedule. More so than anything else, a wedding is judged based on the reception. The timing of your evening plays a large part on the flow of the wedding. The basic rule is “You don’t want to move (herd) people too much. The flow should be from cocktail hour to dinner seating to dancing. In addition, you don’t want to interrupt their dinner.

The major events at a reception are: Cocktail Hour, Introductions, Toasts, Dinner, Cutting the Cake, Serving Desert, 1st Dances(B/G, B/Dad, G/Mom, Bridal Party), Garter/Bouquet toss and the Get Away. You may decide to forgo somethings like the garter toss and add other events like a dollar dance. To determine your schedule for the evening, you will need to consult with your Master of Ceremonies (DJ/Band Leader) and the reception hall. If you are planning to serve your wedding cake as desert, your reception hall will need time to cut the cake. Therefore, I recommend cutting the cake right after you are introduced. I’ve seen couples cut the cake between the soup/salad or main course. Personally, I don’t like leaving the cake out too long as you never know who might accidentally bump into it.

Most couples schedule their first dance as desert is being served. As soon as the first dances have been completed, the dance floor is opened to all the guests and the party really begins. If you do decide on a dollar dance or garter/bouquet toss, you’ll want to plan on those a bit later in the evening. Finally, you should be mindful of when your photographer is scheduled to leave. As I typically book for the event and not by the hour, I’m there until all the events have been completed. However, there are those photographers who do book by the hour. They will leave at the scheduled time. If you want something photographed, you should make sure your photographer has not left yet. With proper planning, speaking to you venue and master of ceremonies, you will have a fun filled evening to remember for years to come.