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Bride feuds with photographer over 'missing' wedding photos

Catherine Donaldson-Evans

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Catherine Donaldson-Evans

Catherine Donaldson-Evans is a journalist, mom, and Wonder Woman wannabe. Most recently, she was senior lifestyle editor and blogger at CafeMom’s The Stir and has written for numerous other publications during her career. She also chases...

Was this wedding photographer actually right to hold bride's wedding photos hostage?

A Texas newlywed couple is furious with their wedding photographer, accusing her of hijacking their pictures unless they pay her an extra fee for the album cover. Now, the photographer is firing back with her own version of events. The story has gone viral.

Bride Neely Moldovan and her husband Andrew of Dallas say they paid Andrea Polito more than $6,000 to photograph their October wedding, which included the album.

But when they recently went to order it, they say they were told they had to pay extra for the album cover — a minimum of $150 — or they wouldn't get the album or the CD of their photos, both of which were included in their package. The fee wasn't mentioned in their contract and they only just found out about it, according to the Moldovans.

"We can pay the $150, but it's the principle," Neely Moldovan told NBC 5 in Dallas. "It's not the money to us. It's the principle of the fact: We already paid you."

Polito is retaliating with an open letter outlining her version of events. She says the extra fee for what she calls "completion of the album" had been detailed both in the contract and in a number of subsequent emails with the bride.

"We clearly reiterated what is stated in the contract: low-resolution watermarked proofs are sent to the couple several weeks after the wedding for them to choose their desired photos, while the non-watermarked high-resolution images are released upon completion of the album," wrote Polito in the letter on her website.

Polito also says she offered to send the couple their photos before they paid the cover charge and later agreed to waive the fee entirely.

"We emailed the bride and stated our willingness to release to them their images prior to having a completed album," Polito said. "We also offered to assume the cost of the album cover before the mention of a news interview ever occurred."

The story of the dispute has gone viral across Facebook, Twitter and other social media, with Polito being the target of harsh criticism and backlash.

If what the Moldovans are saying is true, it does seem ridiculous for a wedding photographer to charge extra for the cover of an album — a cost that should be included, not tacked on later — especially a photographer whose rates are upwards of $6,000 in the first place.

At the same time, was it really necessary for them to take their story to the media, bash Polito on social media and in the process seriously damage her name and her business? She's a woman with her own company whose livelihood depends on her reputation.

It's wrong of wedding vendors to charge couples so much money and add on fees — hidden and otherwise — for things they shouldn't. But it's equally wrong of brides and grooms to take these little wedding planning disputes public when they should be kept private, running their vendors' names through the mud in the press and on social media. Brides (and grooms) need to rein in all the drama. It's over the top. It hurts small business owners, many of them women entrepreneurs we should be supporting. And it has to stop.

Neely Moldovan told NBC that "this is supposed to be the happiest day of our life and we just want our memories from it. We just want the pictures."

That may be true. But her actions say she also wanted attention and headlines. In handling it the way she chose to, she may have seriously hurt another woman's means of making a living. That's nothing to be proud of. And in the end, nobody really wins.

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