I have a wedding client who, due to medical reasons, needs to post pone their wedding a year. They paid the deposit, signed a contract. I feel though that by moving their date, I will not be able to book the original date and lose money. Should I charge a fee to book another date?
The only reason I can think of is if you need to make some extra spending on something. Pay an extra assistant, re purchase a flying ticket, hiring a backup photographer because that date was already taken by another client. If that is the case, talk to your client about the situation.
If not, I think you could just be understanding and change the date on your agenda.
If you have some kind of cancellation fee (or changing date), if this is for example less than 15 days before the event, it should be stipulated in the contract. If you have not stipulated in the current contract, it is now on your "to do list".
I realize this was nearly two years ago, but... think about what you're asking:
I have a wedding client who, due to medical reasons, needs to post pone their wedding a year... Should I charge a fee to book another date?
Weddings are already emotionally charged times. On top of that, they have a hospitalization or surgery to deal with (I'm assuming it wasn't something as mundane as an office visit). They are not postponing because they want to.
While there are a variety responses they will receive from various people and companies when they attempt to reschedule, people tend to see things as black and white when they are under increased stress. There are going to be two general categories of responses:
Considerate and supportive. I'm so sorry to hear about the hospitalization of whomever. Obviously I don't want to put any more emotional strain on you and your family. There will be no extra fees. I will be happy to rebook for next year.
Jerk. The health of whomever doesn't concern me. I need to make a living, and I'm going to charge you a resheduling fee, even though it wasn't in the contract.
Your personal actions will in turn be perceived in reference to how others react:
You do what everyone else does regarding additional fees. You will be perceived as no better or worse than anyone else.
You waive rescheduling fees, but no one else does. You will be remembered as the most considerate person they met while planning their wedding. They will recommend your services to everyone they talk with about their wedding. If you shoot non-wedding events, they will go out of their way to find people to recommend your services to. It could be their 25th or 50th anniversary, and they will still be telling people about how considerate you were as they show people pictures from their album.
You charge rescheduling fees, but no one else does. You will stand out as a jerk.
Unless everything else about the service you provide is excellent, they will remember you as that guy who didn't care about them. They will not recommend you to any of their friends, and people getting married tend to have friends who are also getting married soon.
(Some fees, such as those @Rafael mentions, will be out of your control. Just make sure your clients know the rationale for those fees.)
Why should you listen to me? You shouldn't. Instead, pay attention to how old folks talk during their anniversaries. Ask them about their weddings and the photographers. That should give you a sense of what type of photographer you want to be remembered as.
Something else to think about: Ever notice how much people complain about hospital fees even after they've just received life-saving treatment? They wouldn't even be alive to complain if not for treatment, yet they still complain.
It's a 'wedding client', not a friend. If you can afford to lose the client, bump the price up to account for CPI, and tell the client this. If your client baulks, you still have the deposit and you can book the time for another fee-paying client.