The Weekly Edit: Candid Camera

Jun 12, 2020

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.  And the story of my wedding videographer is a story that certainly qualifies for that title.

I wasn’t planning to hire a videographer, but with just five weeks until my wedding, I changed my mind.  On second thought, I wanted our vows, my father’s speech, and the smiling faces of our friends preserved so that one day, when my loved ones were gone or living far away, I could see them again.

The videographers came.  They filmed.  I bought them drinks in the bar and watched a few moments of footage.  I thanked them, paid them, and followed up by e-mail two months later.

Crickets.

I called.

No answer.

I kept calling, and e-mailing, and Instagram messaging, and texting.

Still nothing, and now all of my calls were going straight to voicemail.

After almost a month, I asked a friend to swing by their office address.  It was a P.O. Box masquerading behind a “suite” number.  The postmaster told her that the mail was picked up “irregularly” and sometimes forwarded to an address out of state that he couldn’t give her.

A week before Christmas, I did a public records search and found their home addresses in Montana and asked a private investigator to drop off a letter.  Still nothing.

I asked my Dad, an attorney in Montana, to send letters to all the known addresses for the owners.  And suddenly, just before New Year’s an email appeared.  But the email hadn’t been written to me.

It had been written to the dozens of 2019 brides who were waiting for their wedding videos.  It explained that Business Partner A had just discovered that Business Partner B was a year behind on wedding videos.  He had promptly severed the partnership, and was trying hard to make it right by completing all of the videos.  It would take a few months, but there was a queue, and we would all get our videos eventually, don’t worry.

Less than satisfied, I asked for my raw footage.  It couldn’t be emailed because the file was too large.  I asked if it could be added to my Dropbox.  No, he’d prefer to put it on a drive and send it via FedEx once he was back in Montana.  Weeks passed, and no footage.

I called.  I e-mailed.  No response.

Then, one day, I e-mailed again and it bounced back.  I tried the other e-mail address, same thing.  The voicemail was full.  The website stopped being updated.  The social channels were closed.

I asked my investigator to look into the matter again, but the business partners had both left Montana.  One had already moved twice.  The other had hung up on her when she called.  And in the middle of a global pandemic, there was nothing else she could do.

So I gave up.  Until last night.  When I discovered that several of the brides in the queue have formed a Facebook group.

Is there a more powerful force in the universe than three-dozen ticked off brides?  I guess we’ll find out.  Stay tuned.

No one is doing reporting like the reporting Vice is doing.  Their pieces are unique, in-depth longer-form features on topics most media outlets ignore.

There’s an episode about black families are being forced off of their land because it’s “heirs property.”  Another covers how women in the al-Hol refugee camp are keeping the ISIS caliphate alive.  Or how Cuban asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico for their hearings are being kidnapped and ransomed by the cartels because they think all Cubans are rich.

It’s a good show.  I’m glad it relocated to Showtime when the network closed.

It’s a t-shirt dress summer.  There’s no point in wearing anything else.  So here are the three that I bought in multiples, because that’s how I roll.

Daily Brand Jersey Boxy Short Sleeve Crewneck ($19)

runs slightly large

Daily Ritual Lived In Crewneck Dress ($29)

runs slightly large

Daily Ritual Lived In Roll Sleeve Dress ($19)

runs a little small

Pinch of Yum’s Spicy Brazilian Burrito Bowls caught my eye.  The mix of spices on the beans and the cilantro slaw are both fabulous.  I decided to add some chicken marinaded in McCormick’s Brazilian Steakhouse Marinade, which is amazing and tastes great on everything

My favorite Nordstrom Lingerie short pajamas have restocked new prints and colors for summer.  I also picked up some of the traditional pant sets (because they’re getting more wear in a post-pandemic world).  The pajamas are comfortable, soft, and wear well over many washes.  I look forward to putting them on all day.

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  1. shannon says:

    I agree with you about the t-shirt dresses. Haven’t tried the Daily Ritual ones. But I have 3 different colors of the Old Navy jersey swing dress. It’s so comfortable, and comes out of the wash perfect. Plus it’s nice and roomy without being completely shapeless.

  2. Emmy says:

    RE videographer: go get ’em Abra!

  3. Abby says:

    The wedding videographer thing happened to one of my best friends who got married last July! Forwarded her this post, I wonder if it’s the same people!

  4. Morgan says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but did your photographer also royally screw up and the photos from your weekend turned out pretty terrible? I am so, so sorry that you haven’t been able to see the footage from what I’m sure was a beautiful and loving day.

    • Belle says:

      The photo just aren’t very nice. Definitely not to the quality of her other work. My planner actually apologized to me, but there’s nothing that can be done when they’re out of focus and badly composed. Luckily, we had the photo booth at the night event.

      • Claire says:

        I’m so sorry this happened to you! Our church wouldn’t allow our photogs to use any supplemental lighting so all of our ceremony and family group photos are terrible.

        • Anna says:

          This is obviously useless to you now, but it might be worth asking photographers for their contingencies in lower light situations. A decent photographer should have lenses with large apertures that would allow them to take photos in low light without supplemental lighting. Decent photo editing can also do a lot.

  5. Cait says:

    I have a stranger than fiction wedding photography story too (thankfully it turned out well.) We chose a highly recommended photographer and paid our deposit. 2 months before the wedding (May 2019) he emailed to say he was in England where his assistant lost our photographer’s passport. Well just get a new one, right? Wrong. He was a Venezuelan citizen and if you think back to then it was when the near coup happened and there was total chaos on the country so no new passports were being issued. Luckily, he gave us the choice of refunding us or having one of his associates come with two extra free assistants (that’s what we chose.) We also felt terrible for him because that’s really frightening plus he wasn’t able to travel back for any of his weddings and lost so much money. But I absolutely remember thinking…who does this happen to?!

    • A says:

      They’re still not issuing passports. My dad sent his in to be renewed over three years ago (he actually had to fly to Puerto Rico to submit it, because the consulate in Miami closed), and at the time, the excuse was there was no paper to print them (seriously). In that time, he applied for and got his US citizenship and still no VZ passport.

  6. Eden says:

    File a complaint with the Montana Office of Consumer Protection. Tell everyone on your FB group to do the same. Brides in other states who experienced something similar should also file complaints with their state attorneys general offices or consumer protection offices.

    • Belle says:

      Everyone has, it has yielded nothing.

      • Eden says:

        I encourage being a squeaky wheel, which tend to get escalated. And brides in other states know every office works differently/has different resources and limitations, so don’t be discouraged from submitting complaints.

        • Belle says:

          I’ll keep on them, but the real issue is that both partners have now left the state. So it limits are options.

  7. Theresa says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the videographer. We had a very similar thing happen with our videographer – we paid her, she showed up and filmed the whole thing, and then ghosted us and stopped responding to any messages. We had purchased wedding insurance, and I filed a claim with the insurance company, so their adjuster also contacted her. I think this is what finally prompted her to send our video as a series of clips via Google Drive, which was less than ideal format-wise but ultimately got us the footage. I don’t know if you purchased wedding insurance but if you did, maybe that’s another route to try?

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