8 biggest mistakes brides make when it’s time to “pull the trigger”.

1. Fixated on a “date”, instead of getting your dream venue/dream vendors.

2. “Know a friend, cousin, coworker who is a photographer”.

3. “I know someone who will do it for less”…$X000, (as if they are hoping I price match)

4. “We mentally have a number we want to spend” (dicker over small $ differences)

5. Budgeted a certain number and unwilling to be creative to borrow from another part of the budget or add their own money to make the difference.

6. “I’ll Contact you after booking everything else”.

7. Didn’t do your homework. ( You don’t know the average wedding photography prices and how stingy some are, you are unfamiliar with my costs or haven’t planned out your overall budget prior to consult)

8. We had a connection, I’m sure she’ll hold the date

Many photographers would think I am simply crazy for being so transparent upfront. Especially, since photography has become soooo competitive, cut throat, and simply put, sometimes use your prices and info to enhance their own business! But there is one reason in doing so…..

Customer Service!

Not only can new couples be informed, know what to expect, feel secure in my service, and in having less questions and concerns by the time we talk, and decisively “pull the trigger”…….equally important, without so much time-consuming wishy-washyness, it means I can prioritize my time for the needs and service of my existing brides, already on calendar!

Please read the terms of how I conduct my business so you know that you can depend of me, my professionalism, experience, and know what is expected as a Rustically Romantic client.

 GET THE BUSINESS OUT OF WAY, THEN ITS TIME TO PLAY! If you are considering working together, please read sample contract below and print out PDF version at the end, (link in red), add deposit and put in mail.


Rustically Romantic

Photography by Darby Johnson

Bride’s/Bride #1/Groom #1 name:                                                        

Groom’s/Bride #2/ Name:                                                       

Wedding date:                                                       

Ph # Bride:                                                                  

Ph # Groom:                                                  


Mailing Address:                                                    

Coordinator Name & #:                                             

Wedding Location:                                                   

Wedding venue contact:                                       

Venue Ph #:                                                   

Salon name/Address:                                           

Salon phone #:                                                 


  1. Realize that even if we love each other, this is a business. I cannot hold your date until you have financially secured it, with a deposit and a signed contract. (Calling, emailing, asking advice, asking for vendor referrals, and sending dress/centerpiece photos without a date on my calendar does not help, lol.) Once secured, the wedding date becomes yours without competition. My price is competitive, and on the low side in the wedding world. I have 100+ weddings behind me that warrant my current quote.  Unless, I offer a discount, there isn’t one. I have learned my lesson the hard way, and nothing makes me hate my job more, than knowing I was taken advantage of. My price is structured as a win win for both the company I am building, for my couples and their families. In addition, my price raises each year, as I gain popularity.

  2. *There are no friends and family discounts. If I am fortunate enough to be friends with you, I value that friendship. In the past I have learned that nothing wreaks a friendship quicker than business deals between friends in which one can feel undervalued

3. Who is my client? I realize that often a parent is paying for a service, but the parent/parent in law/maid of honor is not my client. Therefore, I keep communication between my couple and myself only. It is far too many “cooks in the kitchen” to be setting up additional meetings with parents, getting emails, phone calls, etc. They are welcome during our initial consultation….in fact, the more the merrier! But if parents have questions/concerns, want to add services, they go thru the couple to me and back from me to couple. That way I honor the wishes of my couple, and keep my sanity! LOL!!!!

4. If you cancel your wedding and I have passed up other couples for your date, payment is due in full. I do try everything to rebook the date, but if I cannot, because the couple has already found someone else, you will be charged. Wedding fairs happen only twice a year, so it is very hard filling that date once the fairs have passed. Note- if you cancel the wedding because of cheating, domestic violence, etc…does not in anyway mean I do not feel horrible for you, support abuse of any kind, etc. It is a business, and I have to run it as such.

5. If you run extremely late, and do not get as many photos as discussed in contract, meeting, online, in a verbal pitch etc….that is not my responsibility. I will do everything to promote, encourage a bride being on time, but if you run late because of poor planning or makeup/hair that is not my liability.


A $300 retainer is required to secure the date. Cash is preferred, but if you are writing a check, you must have sufficient funds to immediately cover check. This retainer is non-refundable or transferable for any reason. This “buys” you your wedding date. You cannot cancel your wedding within a year, nor ask for “family portraits” since you gave a deposit. It is a deposit, not a credit.



Package quote  (*WE CUSTOMIZE YOUR PACKAGE STARTING AT A BASE RATE DURING YOUR CONSULTATION)……………….. A price sheet is included in the official contract. Together we discuss how to put together the photography package of your dreams!

NOTE! Each year prices raise, as I have roughly 40 more weddings under my belt each year, hence, more experience. Contract prices are for the current year. Please do not assume the price/terms are identical for a year or two in advance. Please keep this in mind when totaling the balance due.

Payment of the balance of $               is due on the date of the wedding.

(Insert name) THE ”                                ” PACKAGE.




NOTE! Do not have me shoot your wedding, and tell me you ran out of money and need to make payments. um yah! no. If something arises and you need to make a payment arrangement, it must be discussed and paid off, per agreement prior to wedding.

Travel is added to weddings 100 miles away from Novato, Ca. If more than a 3 hour drive is required, a hotel room charge for the night before is added to total price. This is a safeguard to my couples, in case of an accident, car trouble, etc, that would derail the actual start time of the wedding day.

Balance does not include gratuity.

Checks If you are writing a check please add $15, since check cashing will be down through your bank to verify funds, thus funds need to be immediately available. Postdated checks are not allowed. Do not ask me to postpone cashing checks for engagements or weddings. Cancelled checks will result in legal action for balance in full plus all costs incurred associated with legal action required. Returned checks/Insufficient funds will be charged an additional $250 every 7 days until balance is paid in full.

Prepayment Prepayment of the wedding in full is not accepted.

Cancellation policyCancellations less than 12 months before the date of the wedding will require client to pay payment in full within 3 weeks of scheduled wedding date. If I am forced to pursue legal action to recoup balance, client will be liable for my time, my lost wages, and for all court expenses incurred. 2020 weddings will not specify one year, (since I am starting to book 3 years in advance at times)….it will be for any cancellation from time of signature, balance is due in full.

          -Cancellation under 12 months, CASH balance due in full within 3 weeks of  original date. I understand cancelling a wedding is hard enough, without the added pressure of expenses incurred, but its business, and since you have monopolized that date, of which I have needed to pass on other couples who have requested it, payment is due in full.



Rustically Romantic offers full coverage wedding photography as their basic package…cause I’m cool and I want you to have everything. FULL COVERAGE IS 8 FULL HOURS OF PHOTOGRAPHY ON YOUR WEDDING DAY! HOORAY!

Typical coverage starts when the bride (specifically) starts getting ready.

Typical coverage ends after reception events (cake cutting, first dance, etc.) if you have opted for full coverage, which is standard in your flat rate. Please make arrangements to have all events complete prior to 8:30, unless you choose additional hours, I’m not obligated to stay after 9 PM, unless for night weddings that start much later 🙂

My timeline page gives a great idea of how to structure your dream day.You can add additional hours. Refer to my favorite timelines if you want less stress!

“Goals”…for the groom to have atleast 3 full hours to dance with his wife, before venue shutdown! So we aim to have all events done by 7-8pm so its time to parrrrty!


I prefer to communicate with my brides via Facebook messenger via DARBY JOHNSON PHOTOGRAPHY FACEBOOK PAGE. Why? Simply put, I can see your face, access your Groom’s face, and refer to our past communication all at a glance. If you do not have a facebook, please consider getting one until wedding has passed, or use your bridesmaids/moms/etc. Communication is key, and having some Brides text, other email, other Instagram message, etc…..makes it hard to make sure no communication/reply doesn’t fall between the cracks.

Once you are on schedule, please reach out to communicate with me when important. Messaging me after 8 pm or before 9 am is not accepted. As a mom of Marines, and a teenager, I keep my phone on at all times. When bee-in-her-bonnet Bride calls/texts/messages me at 4 am, giving her the world’s most beautiful wedding pictures is not what I’m thinking. I cannot only accept certain #s and block others during non business hours, as friends have suggested because that would also block hospitals, ambulances, cops, you get the point. Please respect my business hours and make appoint of communicating during those.


Do not hire me and hire another photographer simultaneously. This includes “trades” or “friends” asked to take “actual” wedding photos that day. This is such an unexpected twist of events and always causes problems. Also, let me know upfront if you are hiring me as “the backup photographer”.

If you have hired a videographer, or any other professional, please let me know. I also ask for creative priority, meaning I can ask them to move out of the middle of the aisle for example, or to stay out of my shots. (Keep in mind everything that needs writing down in this contract, means it’s actually happened lol). I have some amazing references for videographers whom I love working with if you need a jumping point.

I will ask your guests, nicely to not take any of the posed images I set up, this does not included family photos. I know everyone wants their own copy of those and I welcome that. This applies to wedding party and couple’s formals. This is protection for you so that janky-ass photos aren’t posted on facebook etc before you get to see the professional version of the same photos. I will say “this is my shot” or invite them to rejoin the party…but sweetly :).


All posed images taken by Darby Johnson are the sole creative property of artist, and the physical property of client upon release. All guests present at wedding will be reminded by photographer/officiant that no duplicate photos are to be taken over the shoulder or alongside the photographer with the exception of family portraits, and when reasonable. This is in the best interest of both you, and myself. 

The entire copyright in the photographs is retained by the photographer at all times throughout the world. Digital image files provided to the bride and groom may be printed, displayed online, for personal use, but not for commercial use. Photographer retains the right in all cases to use photographs for purpose of advertising or otherwise promoting their work or any other use.

           -Couple can use all images however they would like, but cannot sell them or use them for commercial advertising without permission.

          -Photographer can use images for all forms of advertising. (Talk to be about this if you have concerns, i.e. family in law enforcement, personal weight concerns, non-custodial parents, etc.)

          Although you retain the rights to your images, strong discretion is expected on additional editing…meaning, do not poorly re-edit your images. This makes me look bad, and is not encouraged or appreciated.

  • Note-if you, the client, is an amateur, or professional photographer, no images taken by Darby Johnson Photography can be advertised, or portrayed to be that of the client’s work.


Your photos will be accessible online for at least one year, although, once all images within wedding package have been posted to online gallery, the photographer is under no obligation to retain the images to an additional external source. Images are erased following delivery. Therefore, it is imperative that you review your gallery within 2 weeks of post, to confirm receipt of images. ( A bride called after 4 months because some of her family photos were missing from set…..with so many files being transferred this can easily happen…..letting me know immediately to maximize the possibility that these images might still be available). It is not my responsibility to deliver missing images once the 2 week time period has lapsed.

-After receiving your copy of the photos, I encourage couples to make additional copies and keep in secure location in case something happens to original set.


In the unlikely event that the photographer is unable to complete the coverage due to unforeseen circumstances, the photographer cannot guarantee, but will make all attempts to provide another photographer!

-This has never happened! Never planning on it happening!

  • As of Dec 2017, both of my sons will be actively serving in the United States Marine Corp. If, for any reason, something happens that needs my attention, my job as a mom comes first. Please know that I will do anything and everything to be everywhere.
  • As of Jan 2018, and moving forward, photographer business is growing, such that the likelihood of hiring additional staff to cover weddings under the company name is becoming a reality. Some wedding dates might be shot with Rustically Romantic photographers different than “Darby Johnson”. Rest assured, this is in the early stages, so certainly nothing is set in stone, but it is a right of Rustically Romantic to send a company representative moving forward.


I backup all images throughout your wedding day. Once back in the office, I back up images a third time, before getting backed up a 4 and 5 time by the editor…..but technology sometimes fails humans. In the unlikely event of a total photographic failure, Client cannot pursue court action over the contract cost for reimbursement.

-Client will be reimbursed for the amount contractually agreed upon within this contract in case of a total photographic failure

 -Again never happened!


If couple is working through a wedding coordinator, “client” refers to couple, not the coordinator. Couple must both sign contract.

*I love providing references for good coordinators! My advice to brides, either find a fantastic coordinator, or go without…..anything in between is a nightmare for the vendors you love. Some are a complete pain in the ass for your vendors. You, the client will not know of tension, problems, etc between vendors, but your vendors will appreciate you hiring a “fun, organized, work horse, non A-TYPE, bark orders kind of coordinator.LOL. Please reach out to me for the contact #s of great planners who will make your day dreamy and stress free!


You should expect your photos edited and online within 2 months. That said, it rarely takes that long. Within 2 weeks, I post a few favorites on social media, so everyone can relive the awesomeness!

Your wedding photographs will be put on an online gallery with a client exclusive passcode enabling only your access from which you can view and archive as a zip file. All prints, large and small can be ordered straight from the gallery. This includes canvases, metal prints, enlargements to frame, etc!

Once gallery link is given, YOU MUST REVIEW AND CONFIRM RECEIPT OF IMAGES WITHIN TWO WEEKS OF RETURN. (Reviewing them 11 months later and saying something isn’t working is your liability and not that of the photographer). IT IS STRONGLY ADVISED THAT YOU IMMEDIATELY ARCHIVE THE FULL SET.

Online Gallery-

How does the gallery process work?

Email is sent to bride and groom once editing is complete.

Email contains passcode to view and pincode to archive.

Couples view photos and choose their favorites to print. Once ordered, prints arrive within about 2 weeks!

Couples share link for family and friends to do the same. Their orders will be independent, sent directly to their home, with no financial/ logistical strain to couple. Yay!

After printing, to archive-select download in top right corner, this will upload a zipfile to your downloads folder. to extract right click and extract onto your desktop.

NOTE! if you are having trouble downloading, older computer, or just want to have a flashdrive for safe keeping, price is $500. This is because a falshdrive with large capacity runs high, plus additional hours of transfer time, mail, etc. Most importantly, this means clients and their family are likely to have images printed elsewhere. This carries a cost.

For the photographer who is now the bride-

I am honored that I have been asked to be your photographer, as I know you have extremely high standards. I ask that you enjoy your photos and post as any other brides, with care to not appear as thou the photos are part of your work. I also ask that you do not duplicate, copy, or use the contents of this contract in your own business negotiations.

Expectations/ perameters

If it needs writing, it means it happens! What to expect of each other

1.You can expect good communication leading up to and after your wedding. If you call/email me, I’ll certainly get back to you. If you call me nonstop, I won’t LOL. Although I love helping my couples, I am not a full blown free wedding planner. Just, be normal…share your fun ideas, ask for suggestions, ask questions, etc….but maybe not like 75 emails lol. Also important, I do not accept business calls after normal hours…(I.E. 12:30 at night, or 6 AM).

2. You can expect me to be professional, responsible, and diligent about getting my job done. I have the upmost respect for my couples, and their families. That said, in return, respect how I do my job. If a drunk POS groomsmen is derailing the deal…I WILL SAY SOMETHING! Don’t get me wrong, I love drunk groomsmen, but there have been a few that absolutely suck!

3.If you are running super late, the person who shoulders the stress is me. You cannot expect the same results as a bride who has adequate time for all her photo ops.

4.If you choose to have a late wedding i.e. after 5 pm, and do not want to see your spouse before the ceremony, you risk having all your photos taken in the dark, and most likely using the majority of your reception time on photos.

5.If important guests are at your wedding, please point them out. If tragedy strikes and that individual is missing from pictures, I place an enormous amount of responsibility on myself, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.

6.I eat. LOL…..when the wedding party does, regardless of the venue. This is so I don’t miss toasts etc. if there is an extra plate, fantastic, if not happy to bring my own snacks….but regardless I go missing for about 15 minutes during dinner.

7.Drunk guests…yes I’ve been spilt on, sworn at, criticized and celebrated!!! I love myself some tipsy partygoers. It takes a whole lot for you to notice if I’ve “had enough”…but please trust my judgement. If I do need to react, its long overdue :)……humor usually is the best tactic.

8.Don’t write me bad checks, or suddenly be missing your checkbook on the wedding day.

9.Your photos will not be ready the next day. If for any reason you need a specific photo and you are requesting it within a day or two of your wedding, there will be a $75 charge per photo.

10.Please use care and attention while selecting your package and add ons. If you want input on your album, select custom album rather than asking for advice and design suggestions while you make your own lol

11.I typically do not go on a field trip to preview Venues. If I agreed to this, that would be roughly 40 days of work a year that I would miss. Rather, I show up with ample time to check it out. Remember, this is partly what makes a professional photographer a professional. They are able to plan on the spot, work with lighting conditions and be creative at a moment’s notice.

and lastly……..

Just be normal and kind, with a pinch of stress, a dash of anxiety, a little room for mistakes, and a whole lot of fun!


          Retainer is due now, even if I love you, your day is not yours, even if discussed until a deposit is given and contract is signed.

          Cancellation within one year of your wedding date, payment is due in full.

           If payment cannot be collected, all court expenses, including my time, will be your expense.

           If you are running late, and you receive less photos, or do not get the photos you were hoping for because of tardiness, that is not the fault of the photographer.

           I will do my best to capture the greatest shots of your wedding day. Please note, if someone does not want photos taken ( i.e. groom, drunk groomsmen, etc, there is only so much I can do)

           Photos will be edited ASAP! Photographer retains privilege to return photos within 4 months.

           Photographer has the right to use images

           Cameras have glitches. It happens and all efforts are made to avoid a mishap. Please sign that you understand this.


Signature of Photographer:                                                     Date:                   

Signature of Client:                                                                 Date:                   

Signature of Client:                                                                 Date:                   


Please sign and send printed contract and deposit to:

Darby Johnson  402 Indian Springs B, Novato Ca 94947

Once downloaded, please fill out, choose packages/extras, fill in total, attach deposit, and send to the address listed. Once received, you become officially booked, and the date is no longer available for other couples

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