Two newly weds were devastated after hiring their friend to photograph their wedding. They put so much work into the theme and just wanted to cherish the memories of the happiest day of their life. They were shocked to learn they may never get documentation of their event and very well may never see their longtime friend again.
TLDR: Wedding photographer took the time to take pictures of the wedding, but now has ghosted and there are no wedding pictures to speak of.
I am the bride and this is giving me massive anxiety. I'm not looking for advice (since I honestly think that I'm just out of luck) but I definitely want to vent my story.
I was previously married during college in what ended up being a very nasty relationship and the photographer I am about to talk about was actually there during this experience and one of my very close friends. She was always a phenomenal friend.
I worked with her for over 7 years and kept in touch after I moved on from that company. I met my future husband about five years ago and everyone loved him right away, basic love story, ect.
I knew that this friend had quit her job at that company to be a full time photographer. She always spoke about it constantly and showed me her work. I always said she would be my photographer for my wedding and I would be happy to give her my business.
I get engaged. The engagement lasted one and a half years. She quoted me a price, and I was like sure! This price included an engagement session and a second shooter. It all sounded great.
The wedding was amazing. It was a themed Lord of the Rings wedding and had the coolest decor. Pictures were so important to me since we spent A LOT of time creating the theme for this wedding.
She shows up without a second shooter and we never did an engagement session. I'm just fine with it. I don't complain. She's a friend! The wedding ends and it was wonderful.
A few weeks go by and I don't hear from her. I reach out and she says she's working on the pictures. Expecting her to send me a bill, I'm just thinking she needs some time. I even mention she should send the Venmo request. She does not.
A month goes by. I ask again. She says she's working on the pictures. She sends 4 very random example pictures. Not even of us, they are of decor and one of him and his mother. I'm ridiculously understanding and when other people ask about pictures I always stick up for her.
It was at this time I find out from my mother-in-law that she claims she 'came out of retirement to do my wedding.' I had no idea. I was under the impression she was still doing this professionally.
Last I saw she had a rented space for her business and was doing great. She had a beautiful website and all. We had great communication up until the wedding and everything was going great. If she didn't want to do it I could've easily hired someone else, but she always seemed excited.
I kept following up after the wedding until 3 months go by and she finally sends me the Venmo. Its the same price (rather high) that she quoted before that included the second shooter and engagement photo shoot, which neither was done.
I nicely ask about it and she makes some statement that she's going to do a canvas and book instead. I'm like, ok. I don't even argue. My husband, however, is concerned and thought we should meet up and pay her once we get SOMETHING since she's been so shady.
He didn't know her as well as I did and is now very concerned about her odd behavior. So I ask her if we can meet that weekend, or whenever she'd like and I'd pay her right then. She says sure, but then abruptly cancels.
Then she asks if we could do zoom instead. I said sure (I really just wanted to SEE pictures at all before I dished out thousands of dollars since she was being so flaky).
Then..... she just stopped responding. Ever. I followed up by text, message, whatever. My maid of honor messaged her. She leaves us both on unread. That's it. That is the story. She just stops responding.
This is a friend I've been close to for 10 years and I am without words. I have ZERO problems paying her. I kept asking her for the bill for the first couple months after the wedding (and even before the wedding). She knows that I have worked very hard and make good money, so it isn't the money.
I've had several other people read through my messages to her and really are also at a loss as I was insanely understanding even after quoting me a price for services she didn't do.
They didn't understand her weird behavior and completely understood why I didn't just send thousands of dollars after months of this shady behavior. I have messaged multiple times that I will meet her and literally cash in hand give her money in exchange for just the digital photos on a usb or something! And there is no response.
I have messaged time and again that money isn't an issue and I will come cash in hand (even at that inflated price) in exchange for even just the digital copies. At this point I just want pictures.
Its now been 4 months. Over a month since she's responded at all. She posts on fb all the time just random things. I don't want to publicly shame her, but I'm so devastated she did this.
It's a loss of what I thought was a really great friend and I have no idea why she doesn't respond. I've sent countless messages offering to drive to her house, her workplace, anytime she wants, with no response.
The only bright side is that my husband's mother is a professional camera woman who was a news camera person for over 20 years... and she recorded the whole thing.
I am still sad I don't have pictures. I would literally hand her that crazy price right now in exchange for my digital copies...even without the second shooter, photo book, canvas, or whatever was promised. It's all very bizarre.
My personal theory is that she accidentally deleted them, or never did the work she thought would be worth that price and was too embarrassed to change the price. I honestly have no clue.
Part of me wondered if I should've paid her when she sent the invoice (even though it was clearly not what I received)... but after her being so shady... who knows. Its clearly my fault for hiring a friend. Never again. I learned the hard way. I feel so immensely guilty for not just hiring a professional.
At this point I have to say I would be petty and publicly shame her on social media. Clearly the friendship is done so what else is there to lose. At least it would protect others from using her services.
I mean, I’d start out with a public comment along the lines of “hey. I haven’t heard back from you in a while. Just wanted to check if you’re ok?” before out and out shame.
I bet it is this. Her card got corrupted & she didn't have a backup or she accidentally deleted them. The right thing to do is just tell you though, if that's the case. I would flat out ask & explain that if it's some other scenario you're fine with whatever she does have.
Also though, in general, a few months after a wedding isn't a crazy turn around time for photos unless you'd discussed something different.
It could be worth a shot of saying something along the lines of: 'Hi, not sure what's been going on and just hope we can catch up about it. If something has happened to the photos, you've lost them or you're not having a great time right now that's totally okay it's just harder when I'm not sure what's going on. Please let me know and we can figure it out'
I definitely said something along those lines, but I will do so again. Thanks!
I dated a guy one time that agreed to videotape a wedding, collected the money way beforehand, spent it, and then lost the footage. He was so embarrassed he basically dropped off the face of the earth (to the bride).
Sh*tty silver lining, but this could have happened with a professional too. Can you pull still photos from the video your MIL took and hire someone to edit them? Do you have your friend's address so you could show up and try to talk to her?
She'd probably try to blow you off again but I would stand firm in needing to know wtf is going on with this and what actually happened. Have you done a reverse Google image search on any of her images to see if they were stolen from someone else? Do you know any other brides she's worked with that you could reach out to?
I would try to show up and talk to her as her friend. Tell her you'd never want to ambush her but you're really concerned that she's in a bad head space and that something's seriously wrong.
Yes. As my MIL was editing the video she was able to get some pictures, but it's still crappy. I don't have her home address anymore, but I know where she works. When my Maid of Honor returns we said we will go up there since the two of us used to work there and will try to nicely ask her. I literally just want the pictures. I'll even pay that high price.