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Suing my Wedding Vendor...need advice

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by ewuu, Nov 20, 2023.

  1. ewuu

    ewuu Law Topic Starter New Member

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    New York
    I hired my wedding photographer, Karen, back in December 2019 and paid an advance of $3,555 to secure the wedding date of August 22, 2020. However, the pandemic forced us to postpone our wedding to May 30, 2021, a decision I communicated to Karen in June 2020. In response, Karen requested an additional payment of $1,777.50 to help her out during what she described as a financially trying time. Recognizing the challenges small businesses faced during the pandemic, Chris and I decided to provide the additional payment, above and beyond the contracted initial retainer, not only to help her during that time but also as a gesture of goodwill under the notion that she would honor our contract in the future. We have yet to receive any services for the additional payment of $1,777.50 that we provided.

    Subsequently, in February 2021, I informed Karen of another postponement, prompting her suggestion to select a flexible, nonrestrictive weekday date (I have emails on this). In April 2021, she wrote in an email, "The date Oct 20, 2022 is an arbitrary date and will be amended again once you have a secure date in your calendar. Please be in touch to confirm our availability before you sign and secure a new date." We interpreted this to mean that the October 2022 date served as a placeholder wedding date until we were able to secure a new date–therefore making the date non-binding.

    Later, in July 2021, I notified Karen that our wedding venue was fully booked for 2022 and that we would be exploring dates for 2023. During our September 2021 video call, we re-iterated that the October 2022 date was a placeholder and that we were looking into a 2023 wedding and Karen expressed that it would be difficult for us to keep the pricing of our 2019 contract for a 2023 wedding. We agreed at that time, that we would be willing to pay for the price increase in your rates and that you were willing to honor our current advance of $5,332.50. In addition, we had agreed with your request to keep our future wedding date to either off-peak wedding season or a weekend when you would already be in NYC shooting for another couple.

    When we re-connected with Karen in April 2023, we had every intention of doing a wedding for fall 2023, with the following rates that she stated to us in your May 2023 response: From the original package 1 that you booked at $7000 in 2019 plus the add on and a discount, the total was $7110. The 2023 rate for package 1 is $12000 minus your retainer of $5332.50, the amount due would be $5667.50. Alternatively, package 2 is a little less at $10000 minus your retainer, the amount due would be $4667.50.

    However, the only date she had available, Sept. 23, 2023, did not work for us. Most recently, while we were in the process of working on a new contract for 2024, with her new rates, she decided that she no longer wanted to work with us and that she was planning to keep our retainer.

    I would love any legal advice you can offer on what we should do and I'd be happy to provide any documentation you may want to see to help us make a case.

    Thank you
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That kind of advice is way beyond the scope of this forum. One would have to analyze the original written contract and any subsequent written communications to determine if there were any binding modifications of the contract.

    If you want that, I suggest you take all that material to an attorney for advice.

    OTOH, if you want boil this down to small claims level, there are limits on how much you can sue for depending on which court you are able to use.

    Small Claims | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov)

    If it was me I would just sue for the retainer, allege breach of contract, and hope that a lawsuit scares her enough to offer you a refund of some amount.
    Red Kayak and Zigner like this.
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Zigner and adjusterjack like this.

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