Perils of snap divorces

WEDDING photographers are demanding payment in advance because many marriages are now breaking up before the wedding album has been paid for.

Couples are even splitting up on honeymoon. The problem is particularly acute in the Midlands where photographers have begun to insist on a 'divorce deposit'.

Nick Stavely-Stanley, a Coventry photographer, is one of many who have had their fingers burned through a honeymoon ending in tears.

In one case, a couple from the Canon Hill area split up on honeymoon and neither wanted to pay for photographs of the happy day.

Mr Stavely-Stanley finally took legal action for payment, naming the bride, who had signed the contract. His photos were submitted as evidence and the court found they were of sufficient quality to merit the agreed fee.

In the north-west, another photographer, Derek Avery, was recently left in the lurch after a wedding in Wigan when the couple split up within weeks. The bride's mother had taken delivery of a preview of the pictures and orders had been placed for the album and extra copies, including two enlargements for the family pub.

Mr Avery said: 'I called up to say they were ready and I remember the bride's mother saying 'Don't bring that bloody album round here - he's left her]' '

After some argument they finally settled the pounds 800 bill.

Mr Avery is chief executive of the Society of Wedding Photographers which now provides a standard contract to its 500 members, setting out terms for deposits.

Another photographer, James Caldwell, based in Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, took more than pounds 1,000 of pictures of a couple who then split up after three weeks. Fortunately, the family paid up.

Such is the trend that some photographers now demand the full fee long before the wedding. This can be punitive for those determined to buck the trend by staying married for more than two weeks. Steve and Julia Speedford, from Coventry, married less than two months ago and still happily together, were asked to pay the full pounds 300 in advance of their wedding - while clearly unaware of the album's final quality. 'They might not even be in focus, or have nobody smiling,' Mr Speedford said.