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Wedding planner uses couple's destination photos for online marketing without permission. 'We contacted her.' AITA?

Wedding planner uses couple's destination photos for online marketing without permission. 'We contacted her.' AITA?

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"AITA? Discovered our wedding planner was using our wedding photos for marketing online/social without our permission. Contacted her and politely asked for them to be removed...did not go over so well."

My (28F) wife (30M) and I got married in October 2023. We hired a wedding planner, "Catherine" (35F), to help us plan a destination wedding in Jamaica at an all-inclusive resort.

Neither of us had ever traveled to Jamaica, but we chose it because the country is less likely to be hit by a major hurricane during that time of year, compared to other Caribbean locations like the Bahamas which was our second option.

We hired Catherine to take away our stress and make the planning process smooth, but her lack of professionalism throughout the year actually added more stress and financial burden. (Attempting to consolidate all the drama)....

We agreed to pay Catherine a total of $8,000, which would be inclusive of her travel to and from site visit with us, and the actual wedding itself. Here is what the payment schedule looked like:

$4,000 upfront to cover the travel expenses and upfront work of getting us our resort/the date/the guest hotel rates/travel coordination.

$2,000 90 days out.

$2,000 30 days out.

Our initial meetings with Catherine were reassuring, and we felt confident she could handle our destination wedding (Budget of 80K) for 80 guests! We had over a year to plan what was explained as "simple."

We left our meeting with the understanding that she would be able to get started on her tasks once we completed a check list that, makes sense, she wouldn't be able to start her work on without us doing our step first. She described it as "passing the torch," which inspired my my wife to get going on the tasks asap.

To be fair, my wife did turn in her assignment 2 weeks early, but did so because she (and her family) had a lot of questions. With this "torch passing," we also paid her the $4,000 upfront invoice. She acknowledged the invoice and the information, and said she would circle back with us to answer our questions within 5 days.

Catherine became less responsive, often seen on social media vacationing in Thailand and Italy, ignoring our emails and our guests' travel requests. When I say less responsive, I am being polite. There was perhaps 12 days at one point of zero communication.

Not even an "OOO" auto-reply. Hey we get it, we like to vacation too....but we also understand professional courtesy and we still had guests not being able to move forward with planning.

As the wedding approached, 120 days out, our friends and family were still unsure about their travel and stay confirmations. This caused us significant anxiety, especially as we had not confirmed 30 guests travel even though they RSVP yes.

I would like to note that Catherine would receive an additional commission incentive on top of what we were paying her, and this incentive would be paid from the hotel based on the amount of guests that reserve travel with her. ** (WOW THIS STORY JUST GOT INTERESTING NOW)....

When we confronted Catherine with our concerns, she became defensive, telling us that our guests were asking too many questions and had been requesting quote revisions over and over. We were then forced to ask our guests to send us communication they had with her so that we could assist them further.

Despite the unpleasant planning process, the wedding turned out wonderful, and our guests had a great time. However, we couldn’t forget the stress and issues leading up to the wedding, so when the dust settled, and Catherine asked us to write a "5-star review," we felt she didn’t deserve it as it would be a lie, and decided not to leave any review at all.

(NOTE the review my wife would have written would have been a 3/5 at best followed by many negative sentiments explaining that we paid our final invoices totaling 8K only to have felt like we paid for added stress).

We got married in October, went on our honeymoon for a week afterwards, and then the holidays followed. In that time, we had forgot about Catherine's request for a 5 star review and had not received a follow up about it, so we went on with our lives as newly-weds.

Fast forward to now, my wife got a call from her friend, who found our wedding photos on Catherine's social media and website under "DESTINATION WEDDINGS IN THE CARIBBEAN." My wife’s friend was confused why we advised against hiring Catherine when we were featured prominently on her site.

We spent the next 20 minutes searching through our phones, texts, and emails for any communication asking for permission to use our photos and found none. We decided to sleep on it before contacting Catherine. I’m not confrontational, so I handled the situation to avoid my wife making things 10x worse with this planner who she felt had wronged us.

I contacted Catherine and explained that we were upset to learn our wedding photos were used without permission. Catherine's responded that they were, "beautiful photos, and we should be proud to see them on her site."

She also claimed that, "this was our 5-star review in photos.” AITA for NOT writing a false 5-star review and then having the "balls," as she put it, to ask for our photos to be taken down?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

machinezed said:

I would double check your contracts with her as she may have a clause you agree to use your wedding as marketing for her. Then give her your review. How she was stressed out over an 80 person destination wedding, and how you needed to be the point of contact for her from your guests.

How 120 days out you needed help getting accommodations for 30 guests, that she got a commission for reserving. NTA but give her your review.

cthulularoo said:

NTA, she's unprofessional in the extreme. As a pro in the wedding industry she should know that your pictures are off limits for advertising. 1 star review detail her lack of professionalism, then report her website to her ISP for copyright infringement.

DawnShakhar said:

NTA. These photos are your property. Check your contract, but unless you signed one giving her permission to use your photos, take her to court to demand she take them down.

Staceyrt said:

NTA Check your contract because nowadays everyone includes a photo release. Now I’d buy some web domains close to her business name and put up my review on it. So when they searched for Catherine weddings my pics and real review would figure prominently. Sorry you’re going through this.

Diasies_inMyHair said:

NTA. First, make certain that you didn't give her written permission to use your photos in the contract that you signed with her. Second, write that review and give her the stars she deserves.

Accordingtowho2021 said:

NTA. Unless your contract states photos may be used for advertising, then you are right to be upset. This was a private moment you didn't want shared in such a public platform. First thing to do is tell her she must take down the photos and if she doesn't do it within 24 hours you will need to get lawyers involved.

If she doesn't, actually get a lawyer involved. Do not leave a review until you have spoken to a lawyer to see what they advise. You may want to leave a 1 stat review but it may cause more problems in the long run. After you win, then leave the 1 stat review! Because people need to be warned.

Sources: Reddit
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