Q: “Why is a payment required up front to commission my photographer?”
A: A reservation fee is often required to compensate the photographer for other work that that falls on your desired wedding date which they will refuse since they have already committed to your wedding, or to pay for an engagement session which may be photographed months before your final balance is due, or travel plans that your photographer may make ahead of time to accommodate your event. In this case the reservation fee is considered liquidated damages, and is legally nonrefundable once paid. Many wedding professionals, not just photographers, require a reservation fee.
That said, if in the unfortunate event you decide that the photographer you have signed with is not the one for you, then you may have to consider your forfeited reservation fee the price you pay to realize that that particular photographer is not right for you—thus avoiding what may have been a potentially huge mistake on your wedding day!
While at Luminaire Images we do require a reservation fee upon contract signing, we also deduct it from your final balance, so overall it is not an additional cost on top of what you are ultimately paying.