Wedding Photography Education

Why we dropped our down payments to just 10%

Written by Melli & Shayne. Cover photo by Marcela Pulido

Table of Contents


I know, I don’t want to hear about Covid anymore either. But, this post isn’t about Covid. It’s about saving our asses in a world where the unexpected seems to happen all the more frequently. And to no fault of our clients or our own. There is always that risk that something goes wrong, borders close up, events get canceled and you’re stuck in a pretty crappy situation. All of you actually. This post is about a little tweak that we did to the business that really helped us. Though it definitely won’t work for everyone as it largely depends on your own personal income state.

by Melli & Shayne


If you aren’t collecting down payments before the wedding, then, well, we need to have a talk. But like I’m certain that 90% of you reading this do, in some way, take down payments to secure the wedding date with you.

We always used to charge 50% before, 50% after the wedding. It was a fairground for both parties involved. We got paid a decent amount, and the clients didn’t dish out everything until the actual wedding day. This has worked without fault for many years. And the 50/50 is no golden rule. Not at all. Some may charge 25/75, or 25/25/50, or whatever. To each their own. Much like this post is kinda specific to us – but it’s relevant to share as it may inspire, or even solve problems for someone out there.

By Venture Out Photography

What we did

Instead of charging 50/50 for the down-payments, we drastically changed the ratio. We now charge 10/90. 10% upfront, 90% after the wedding. And there are a few reasons for this:

  • In times of Covid, it’s easier to secure this booking with such a low down payment.
  • It’s easier on the wallet for the couple (at least in the beginning).
  • But most importantly, it’s a security blanket. If their wedding gets postponed to date we can’t make it, or canceled entirely, we only need to refund 10%. Which oftentimes is easier than to refund 50%.

This has made all the difference for us here. But of course, what this means is that we don’t make much cash initially. That’s why I said, this is specific to us. We are able to survive with just 10% of the quote from our clients. Though not easy.

Come wedding season though – then it’s a rain-ing coin. 😉 That’s just an ego-boosting plus to it. But not a point I’d actually list.

By Pticica Studio


This is not meant to be a “You should stop what you’re doing and do this” kinda post. Not at all. This is merely a sharing of what we do. Or started to doing. So far, we have no complaints about dropping our down payments and if you’re also stressing about refunding a huge amount in case things don’t go according to plan; perhaps it’s worth considering this route.




What about

Have you adjusted your down payment since covid?

Have you adjusted your down payment since covid?


2 Responses

  1. REFUND? I’m sorry, but the client pays a booking fee to secure the date. Once they are booked, you turn down other couples and lose other opportunities. If they cancel/want to rebook and you are not available, that booking fee is none refundable! That’s the deal. Having said that, I do keep my booking fee low at 20%, I do try to be compassionate and work with the couple to find another time for them (ahem, Covid), often to my detriment, and I HAVE refunded that fee once according to my judgement of that particular situation. But sorry, if you are charging down payments and refunding them, then you are not valuing your time or your profession.

    1. And for the most part, I totally agree with you. We never did refunds. But given the fact that the pandemic threw not only us around but our clients too, we opt to be as fair as possible. Of course, it’s too close to the due date of the wedding (where we are unlikely able to book another job), then it goes without saying that refunds are not possible. However, when we do decide to – it’s much easier to handle at 10%.

      In the end, we only refund if conditions are met and it’s a matter of good faith. We value our couples and understand the struggles they go through (just as much as we do). 🙂

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