It Took 13 Months To Get My Incredibly Crappy Wedding Video - What Should I Do?

What’s more precious: money or memories? A bad wedding videographer can leave you with with neither. Autumn writes that she and her husband hired a videographer for their wedding, assuming that when you pay $1,000 for a videographer, you receive a video of highlights of the wedding and reception in a timely manner. Instead, Autumn had to hound the company to actually get her video, finally receiving it in August 2010 after a July 2009 wedding. Oh, and the video is also missing most of the moments from the reception that people actually want to remember. Maybe the company assumed that after a year passed, the couple would forget that there had been a father-daughter dance. And speeches.

I was married on July 18, 2009 and hired [redacted] to be our videographer. All of the representatives were extremely friendly, and always called to check to see if I had any concerns, the time and locations of events, etc. My husband and I ended up paying $1,000.00 for the videographer service and thought that we would get a beautiful video that captured every moment from our wedding.

However, we never heard back from the company for months. I was finally able to get a hold of a representative in May of 2010, but did not receive my actual video until August of 2010. When my husband and I sat down to watch our video, we were appalled! The videographer set up the camera for the ceremony, but I am not sure what happened after that! The video instantly cuts to the dance floor and shows our guests dancing. However, all of the speeches are missing, our first dance, father daughter dance, et.c are no where to be found. At one point the camera was actually knocked over.

I have tried to call the company for months, but I can’t seem to get a hold of anyone. All I am asking for is the unedited version of our wedding. My husband’s grandfather passed away shortly after the wedding, and the video is one of the last memories that we have with him. I hope that we are able to hear something back soon, because we are out a lot of money and memories.

Is the company not answering Autumn’s calls, or just not answering the phone at all? First, try being nice: send a registered letter requesting that the company provide the couple with the raw footage from their wedding. Explain about the grandfather.

Then, she should check the original contract signed with the company, if she still has it. As long as “we can take as long as we want” and “large swaths of the things you hired us to tape may be missing” aren’t clauses in the contract, proceed to small claims court.

Any other ideas from the Hive Mind?

Comments

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  1. aja175 says:

    I had a similar situation. I hired a photog as a wedding gift for a friend. After a year of excuses she closed up shop. Never came up with any pictures, now she’s nowhere to be found.

  2. nbs2 says:

    From what the delivered product sounds like, I almost wonder if they were stalling because the person they sent out failed to record the material or didn’t record it properly.

    I hope things work out for the best for Autumn.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think that’s exactly what happened. They knew they screwed up and were just stalling for over a year.

      It sounds like they deserve a refund but will probably have to go to small claims court to get it. Hopefully there’s nothing in their contract about the videographer not being responsible for technical glitches.

    • veritybrown says:

      That’s what I was thinking. My husband did wedding videography for a while (gave it up after too many Bridezillas) and sometimes things go wrong with the equipment or simply with the set-up. This is one reason why he always had a second cameraman, and sometimes a third camera set up on a tripod. Even then, there were times when we really had to do some creative editing to come up with an acceptable video. But regardless of what went wrong, delaying for a year and avoiding the OP is bad business practice. They need to fess up and give the couple a refund.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        If my fiancee turned out to be a “Bridezilla”, there would be no wedding. All I ask of people in my life is that they are respectful and responsible.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Actually, I suspect that some of the tapes got ruined or the files somehow got corrupted/ lost.
      I had a DV reader eat a tape one time :( Not cool!

  3. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Paper trail! Make sure you can show phone bills with attempted contact, leaving messages, any correspondence. Sorry, but you might not get the raw footage after all of this, they might have just plain screwed up and you won’t get your memories back :( But at least you can warn other potential people, and most likely receive back 90% if not more of the cost of the video. I’m sure you won’t get the full price, because you did in fact, get some footage.

    • Dover says:

      This is complete refund territory. Imagine paying to get into an amusement park and finding out every ride except the merry-go-round is closed and the park only wants to give you a partial refund. There is a common expectation about what is part of a wedding video and the company failed to deliver the most essential parts.

    • Mom says:

      Actually, I’m thinking that if the video has a shot of the camera being knocked over, that what she has *is* the raw footage, and it isn’t going to get any better. Like others said, they probably either had technical problems, or lost the footage somewhere, and don’t want to fess up.

      She may be able to negotiate something with them where she gets whatever footage they have, although judging by the quality of what she’s gotten so far, that might not prove very useful. I’m thinking a small claims suit might be the club she needs to use to get them to return her calls.

  4. parv says:

    Why would the company give raw footage on its own (unless written in the contract with provision(s))?

    In any case, Autumn should contact a friendly lawyer to go over the contract, and to get an idea of available remedies.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      Agree with the advice on lawyering up.

      As a wedding photographer, I have never given or shown raw images to a client who asks. It is not a finished product, and it does not accurately represent my work.

      That said, I’ve never royally screwed over a customer like this videographer has. I will say that price is a decent indicator of experience and quality, and $1k for such a service is relatively low.

      • jessjj347 says:

        Yeah, OP seems to think that’s a high price. $1000 for a wedding videographer is pretty cheap. I imagine the videographer didn’t have much experience, doesn’t know anything about film, or just is not that good at what he/she does…

    • HalOfBorg says:

      I agree, but hopefully they will when a judge tells them to.

      I imagine all they have to do is show the judge the ‘finished’ video.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the raw footage has had an ‘unfortunate accident’ and is gone.

  5. unsunder says:

    I’ve kinda got an opposite problem. The last project I did as a videographer was in 2008. It took me about 6 month to complete it because they were slow to respond to my questions. They have a screener copy now but I’m not sure they ever watched it. I still have about 60GB of material on my hard drive.

    Sounds like a crappy company that just set up a tripod in a bad place and didn’t end up getting any useable footage.

    • suzieq says:

      That’s why as a freelancer I always put in my contracts “kill language” that says if progress hasn’t been made on the project in X days (depending on the client it could be as little as 2 weeks) then I consider the project dead and bill accordingly. You’d be amazed at how quickly clients respond when you threaten (in the nicest possible way) to close out their project.

    • edicius is an acquired taste says:

      I know that feeling. I do freelance videography myself and I was actually waiting two years for a client to get materials to me (pictures for a photo montage, music for other montages) for a Bat Mitzvah video. She finally got the stuff to me last month and I got the finished DVDs to her within a couple days.

      I have another one sitting on my hard drive that’s close to a year old now and there’s only so much hounding you can do via phone calls and e-mail. Eventually it gets to the point where if they want their video done, they’ll get in touch (and they’ve already paid me too, so it’s on them right now).

      In the case of the OP, though…this is all on the videographers. Wow. Who leaves footage in of a camera that gets knocked over? You screwed up a job – own up to it!

      I ran into a situation where I was shooting a little preschool program and something went wrong with my camera (the drive plate or something, which resulted in it being with Sony for an entire summer trying to get them to repair it, but that’s another Consumerist story) and while the video was watchable, there was a significant degree (to my eye) of artifacting in the video. I refunded 50% of the DVD price (originally $10/DVD, became $5/DVD) to everyone who had purchased a DVD. I was fully prepared to give full refunds to anyone who still wasn’t pleased, but I didn’t get a single complaint. In fact, I received more than a few notes from people who genuinely appreciated the effort I made (and some who even said, “It looked fine to me!”). Now I know a one-time event like a wedding is quite different from a preschool program, but still – own up to your mistakes! You messed up. Give them the raw footage, refund them most of their money (not all, because a service was still provided, even if it was sub-standard) and make it right.

  6. tinmanx says:

    Whoa, and I thought waiting 3-4 months for my wedding video was too long. But it turned out well for me, the video was pretty good.

    Anyway, sounds like the videographer screwed up big time and didn’t record parts of the wedding or the memory card crapped out. The company was just stalling and hope you go away. They really should have been up front about this and give you back some money since the footage is gone.

  7. chemmy says:

    Sounds familiar. My wedding was in Nov 2007 and I didn’t even get my effing pictures until March 2009.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      For all future work with a photographer, make sure you get one with language in the contract that says they will deliver “no later than” a certain date.

      Ours has such language, with the exception of items that require interactions with the client before proceeding (ie. we can’t be held liable for the customer’s inability to choose).

    • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

      It took us about a year to get our wedding pictures. The photographer ended up going out of business, so he just sent us the proof album. My father-in-law paid him $50 to get the copyright signed to him, and get all the negatives. We still haven’t gotten any pictures done of the wedding, except for the ones we have in the proof album.

      • Mom says:

        We had a similar situation. We ended up getting a disk with all the raw files. I edited the best ones myself (I do fine art photography, not weddings), and printed exactly two of them. The rest are there if we ever get the urge to look at them, I suppose.

      • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

        I get the feeling wedding photography is a lot like real estate, a lot of people get into it because they think it’s going to be a fun easy job then are overwhelmed by the actual amount of work involved and quickly sink under their own weight.

        • rndmnmbr says:

          Pretty much this. A lot of people think photography is easy, and people pay lots of money for weddings, and it’s easy money.

          Then reality hits. First, weddings are incredibly stressful for everyone, and you are under enormous pressure to get the perfect shots of the important moments.

          Second, chapels tend to be poorly lighted, the same with reception halls, and a cheap camera with kit lenses won’t serve under those conditions. Plus, pro photography equipment is expensive – you will need, at a minimum, a large-aperture normal zoom ($1000-$1500), a large aperture telephoto zoom ($1500-$2500), two full-frame digital bodies (unless you’re shooting film, $2000 apiece), and two high-powered external flashes ($600 apiece) plus about three times the amount of charged batteries and memory cards you think you’ll need. And you need to be able to use all of this instinctively, or else you’re going to miss shots while fooling around with the camera.

          Third, Photoshop is nice for one or two photos at a time, but when you’re talking 200, it gets old, fast. It’s better to get good photos out of the camera to begin with, and to do that, you have to really know how light works, and how to properly use a flash. It’s not something that can be learned in a classroom, it pretty much has to be taught by experience. It takes 10,000 hours of experience to learn a craft – how many hours do you have under your belt?

          All this on top of the standard small business pitfalls and traps. And for reference, I don’t do wedding photography as a rule, I don’t care how good it pays or how badly people beg me. I’m not willing to tolerate an angry bride or mother who does not understand the limits of photography. I’ll stick to my less lucrative but BS-free landscapes.

  8. RandomHookup says:

    I am sorry, but without a proper wedding video, you’ll have to get remarried. It’s the law.

    • Dover says:

      OP should sue for the entire cost of a replacement wedding!

      • microcars says:

        if you watch People’s Court on TV there are people that think they are entitled to a new wedding because of things like this!
        ( I love People’s Court, particularly when Harvey Levin manages to squeeze in some great double entrendres…)

        • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

          I was going to make a Court reference myself. This is exactly the kind of case ripe for it. Then that jerk who interviews the people after judgement (not Harvey, the other guy) can take passive aggressive pot shots at the photographer as he walks away.

  9. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Gravitational Eddy
    November 11, 2010 8:35 AM
    Moderate | Flag for review
    I’m sorry you got ripped off.
    It should not have happened.
    Perhaps in the future, you will use better judgement as to which videographer you will choose.

    Now that the pleasantries have been concluded, heres the ugly part of my message:

    You fool!
    Where is your brain?
    Did you leave it outside in the rain again last night?
    Why did you think a single videotape would constitute a memory?
    You should have kept the money until you saw the final cut!
    rule number one:
    Never pay for anything in advance.
    Not even wedding videos.
    Especially wedding videos.

    Where was the backup crew?
    What?
    You didn’t have a backup crew?
    You didn’t think about slipping one of the nieces or nephews a $50 to carry around a Handycam and get the one-on-one shots, the shots you know you should have, instead of a crappy videotape of a bunch of people dancing and drinking.
    Were there no other people at your wedding who were capable of providing pics or videos?

    Now that that’s over, perhaps you should retain a lawyer and seek all remaining footage from the videography company in question. Perhaps you could reassemble a decent wedding video from the remaining unused footage.
    But don’t get your hopes up.
    Most companies I’ve heard of don’t keep the customer goods. No point in it. (customer already has a copy)
    They burn a dvd with the best quality unedited stuff (and pics) and send it along with the final cut. And then they toss their work video.

    Maybe husband number two can help you with this……..

    I keed, I keed….

    • georgi55 says:

      Are you trying to be funny cause you are not.

      • Gravitational Eddy says:

        Understand this, OP has nobody but themselves to blame.
        Typical crying-into-the-pillow story, “I didn’t get what I thought I was going to get.”
        If you pay in advance, you are stuck with what you asked for.
        If Speilberg wasn’t filming it, it will -not- look like Speilberg filmed it. So why didn’t they
        prep for this? Because they were assured by the videographer that it would be covered.
        I’m not trying to insult people, it’s just I view the whole “wedding” video thing to be a bit over the top.
        I can remember the wedding just fine, and I don’t need to pay $1000 to someone else to make me a video so I can remember it. I’d rather keep my money than throw it away on a video.

        • Reader101 says:

          Regardless of what makes the wedding or not or if the OP paid in advance or not, there was a contract (either oral but most likely written) and clearly, the service contracted for was not delivered.

          The OP has a legal issue.

          Not an emotional issue.

    • adamczar says:

      You, sir, are a dick.

    • Dover says:

      Way to cover all the bases, but now how can the rest of us get our OP hate on?

    • Anathema777 says:

      Why did you format this comment like a free-form poem?

    • rndmnmbr says:

      Bad news: you may have the rights to a finished product, and may demand your money back if it is not to your satisfaction. But copyright of the raw product belongs to the photographer. It was never yours, and should never be.

  10. EmanNeercs says:

    I know it doesn’t help NOW, but best idea I’ve ever heard of: leave disposable cameras on every table (or any structure where plenty of people have access) and let all the guests take pictures ;) friends and family are (theoretically) sure to take pictures of best moments, not to mention it’s of very little cost to you AND it makes the whole wedding more interactive.

    • lvixen says:

      I know several people who have done this. They loved the candid shots that they never would have seen nor would a professional have taken. They had the professional of course but they feel like they got even more of the feeling of the day. Another note, a friend recently got married and a guest for their present rented a photo booth. A bit pricier than the table cameras but those pictures were hysterical!

    • ScarletsWalk says:

      While I got some good ones at mine, some of my a-hole guests took some of the cameras. It might have been an honest mistake, but you’d think once they got them developed and saw pics of the wedding, they’d at least have been like “oh, how nice! I’ll make sure to show these to the bride and groom!” Or, you know, remember that they brought one camera and instead went home with 3.

      I always thought those stupid, fancy, extra-expensive ones with the wedding cases weren’t worth the money, but as they were unique, it would have kept people from mistakenly taking the camera home.

      • pot_roast says:

        Friends of mine have done that (put cameras out, not taken them) but they found that nearly all of the photos were ruined – by children. Kids immediately grabbed the disposable cameras, found that there were others, and ran wild with them, snapping photos of utter crap. When adult guests went to take photos, the cameras had already been used up.

        20 disposable cameras and all they got were a bunch of photos of nothing. (Next friend that got married had a “no children” rule. The cameras worked out better.)

    • lettucefactory says:

      I did this for my first wedding, and it was fantastic. We were young at the time (18-19), so you can only imagine the pictures my stupid friends came up with. And even my family got in on the act. Silly stuff, but memories I wouldn’t otherwise have – I was busy being a bride when all this was happening.

      IDK how much longer disposable cameras are going to be around, though, now that so many people have camera phones…

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      One of my friends is an avid amateur photographer, and vowed not to touch a camera at his wedding. Instead, he put on the announcements for people to please bring their cameras if they wanted. Many of his friends are amateur photographers as well, and it must have been the most photographed wedding ever. It was a pretty laid back affair though, this probably wouldn’t work in a traditional wedding.

      By the time we all sent him DVDs with the photos on it, he must have had 10,000 raw frames.

      We also had a great time after dinner swapping lenses and playing with each other’s equipment. Luckily we mostly all had Canons so we could do this.

      • Nighthawke says:

        So now all of you are now Canonized?

        *runs*

      • shockwaver1 says:

        My wife apprenticed under one of the better wedding photographers in the city here. When she got married nearly every decent wedding photographer was there – never in my life have I seen so much camera equipment in one place. I bet she had some stellar shots.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      We did this for our wedding, and one of my high school friends took one in the bathroom and snapped a pic of his junk and then dropped the camera on the random table. Imagine our surprise when sorting through those pics!

      We still got some great shots though!

      • MercuryPDX says:

        Only one junk shot? Our entire table of 12 did this…. the guys AND the girls. The maid of (dis?)honor bought an extra camera just for this purpose. It was either this, or the “Alarm clock set to 3 AM under the newlyweds bed” prank.

        To say the Bride’s mother had a great sense of humor when picking up the photos is an understatement.

      • Mom says:

        The wedding I went to where they did that, we spent the evening putting the little brides and grooms on the table into compromising positions, and taking pictures of them. I don’t think the camera had a single shot on it that anyone would want to keep.

    • Macgyver says:

      Just make sure there’s no thimbles around.

    • jenl1625 says:

      At the last wedding I attended, they had disposable cameras out and nobody touched them – anyone with any interest in taking photos had their own cameras or used their cellphone cameras.

  11. Rask says:

    Our videographer just made a shitty little montage at the beginning of the tape with music we hated, then proceeded ot just give us 4 VHS tapes with the raw footage for the rest of the wedding and reception.

    My wife and I digitized the whole mess and re-cut it with Windows Movie Maker into something we both enjoy quite a bit. Being able to choose your own highlights was an absolute joy.

  12. DanRydell says:

    If you’re like most people, you won’t watch your wedding video more than a few times in your life. Your photographer took pictures of the important moments, right? Use those to remember the day. I know it’s disappointing to not get what you were expecting, but years from now you’re going to look back at this and wonder why you cared so much about a video that you never watch.

    • Gravitational Eddy says:

      I was trying to make that point too.
      Seems there’s a bunch of whiney butts here today.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      +1 but I’m biased. I’m a photog.

    • kobresia says:

      …and then you’ll throw it away when you divorce in +/-10 years, like most couples.

      Then again, weddings aren’t so much about “memories”, the best I can tell. They’re a production that are suppose to come with a hoard of mementos. Time in the spotlight, some folks’ only chance in their lives to be the center of attention & do something others will take notice of, the superstar whose precious moment is going to be labored over by photographers and editors. That’s just fine, but it’s good to be honest about what it is– it’s about the planning, execution, and glamor.

      All those photos? Might put one or two on display, the rest will languish somewhere dark and dusty. Heck, they might as well go straight into a time capsule, to only be opened on the couple’s 50th anniversary, otherwise destroyed.

      • veritybrown says:

        I eloped 24 years ago. No pictures or video, yet somehow I remember the event just fine. Oh, and we’re still married.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I didn’t allow video at my wedding b/c I felt it would cheapen it. I want to remember it how I saw it, not how someone else saw it. I have some photos my amateur photographer uncle took in an album and they work. We rarely look at them though.

  13. jpdanzig says:

    Why is the name of the errant videographer redacted? The Consumerist should alert the public to companies doing so poorly for their customers by naming the miscreants…

  14. H3ion says:

    For our daughter’s wedding, we hired a person who taught photojournalism at the local university. I had my own darkroom so the contract specified that she would just give us a contact sheet and the negatives so we could do our own printing. She did a terrific job, catching every important moment with a journalist’s eye. Her husband made a video tape and just gave us the raw footage to edit ourselves. I don’t remember the price but it was a lot cheaper than hiring one of the wedding specialists. Of course, we did a lot of the heavy lifting but we still have the negatives.

  15. chaesar says:

    half up front, half when you get it

    • edicius is an acquired taste says:

      Exactly how I bill – although some people prefer to give me everything up front, which, admittedly, motivates me to get it done quicker. It’s worked so far.

  16. Reader101 says:

    Please find a site that reviews wedding services in your area and write a review. It would be nice to save another bride from this stress.
    (I may feel differently if they owned up to their mistake immediately and tried to resolve the issue as best as possible with good customer service).

  17. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Our ceremony was on a Friday evening and the reception Saturday afternoon. We knew there were a lot of people who would not be able to make it Friday.

    I could have done it myself with my tripod and camera, but we were so under budget that I decided to spring for the add-on from our photographer to have him send 1 guy with a camera and wireless mic system just to do a straight-up film the ceremony and then give me the tape so that we could play it on the big screen the next day at our reception at Dave & Busters.

    We had on our contract a full list of all the shots we wanted the photographer to get, and the specific instructions for the video. Total cost was going to be just over a grand, and we put down a $300 deposit.

    Day of the wedding comes, and the photographer is late to the hotel where the wife is. Then he got lost on the way from the hotel to the park and got there just in time to get some shots of the ceremony. He did none of the posed shots we asked for. The videographer didn’t have a wireless mic, and took off as soon as the ceremony was over without giving me the tape.

    I stopped by their shop the next morning before heading over to the reception, contract in hand, to get my tape figuring it was just an oversight on the videographer’s part.

    Oh no, there was no tape for me. There was editing to be done. I showed him my copy of the contract, and he said that they never would have agreed to that, and that his employee that did was wrong. I also complained about the pictures we wanted that were not taken. He wanted to charge me extra because the photographer was there longer than expected. He was only there longer because he got lost and didn’t use the directions we gave him.

    So I had no video, and when the proofs were ready, they sucked, so we told him he wasn’t getting paid. He told us he would sue. I invited him to, saying we’d counter for our deposit back, and showed him a copy of the signed contract they failed to complete.

    In the end, I was out $300, and the photogrpaher went out of business about 5 months later in a flurry of bad press about situations similar to ours. But we have the pictures our friends took, so all was not lost.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Wow, I assume you have no experience in digital media. I don’t think they could have edited the video well even after staying up all night…
      Sorry you were duped so badly.

      • jesirose says:

        He didn’t WANT editing…

      • BK88 says:

        “…to have him send 1 guy with a camera and wireless mic system just to do a straight-up film the ceremony and then give me the tape so that we could play it on the big screen the next day at our reception at Dave & Busters.”

        Nothing about editing in the post.

      • scoosdad says:

        You apparently have never heard of “same day edits” in the wedding videography business. This is where the ceremony video is edited, along with music, a montage of pre-digitized footage and photos, and projected on a big screen at the reception. It’s a crazy-busy process that happens between the ceremony and reception, and usually involves an assistant, a high-end laptop or two that have been capturing the camera footage digitally as it happened live, and some advance work to get a template set up so the footage from the ceremony can be dropped into it quickly. It takes an experienced videographer and a huge amount of prep work to pull it off, but it’s a jaw-dropping experience to see this polished edited production played back literally an hour or two after the ceremony happens. It’s pretty commonplace now, actually.

  18. NotEd says:

    Better Business Bureau complaint.
    If they respond see if you can get the raw footage besides asking for at least a partial refund. It is possible the missing parts of the ceremony/reception were shot, but the resulting footage was not deemed good enough by the editor at the company to include.
    I suspect the owners of the company do the selling and editing/packaging, but hire freelancers to shoot the actual footage of the day. Having shot video once as a freelance wedding job I can tell you that not all cameramen are comfortable shooting in a wedding crowd. Probably the footage was bad because the cameraman wasn’t forward enough to position himself to get those parts of the reception on tape well.

    All I can suggest to avoid issue to others looking to hire a videographer for their wedding is to insist on seeing a demo reel, not only for the company but of specific footage shot in the past by the cameraman they send.
    And ask for a copy of all raw footage, if possible. (Raw footage is less likely for you to get, as it is valuable to the company for additional income. Sort of like negatives for a photographer. Still it might be worth asking for it.)

    • calchip says:

      Why, oh why does anyone EVER thing a BBB complaint will do anything at all? BBB is owned by the businesses who are members. Nobody looks at BBB ratings before they buy, so it’s worthless to prevent others… and if you complain against a BBB member, you’ll never get your complaint recorded.

      I think the people that recommend BBB have never actually dealt with one.

  19. DeeJayQueue says:

    Sounds like they recorded it inside out. That is to say that every time the camera op thought they pushed the button to record, it stopped, and when he pushed it again to stop, it started recording.

    That, and, well, $1000 doesn’t sound like that much for a videographer. Everyone that I’ve ever talked to that does weddings starts at $2500 and some of these guys aren’t even that good or professional.

    If the company has an office, go visit the office in person. Let them know that you are very dis-satisfied with the quality of the editing work on the video, ask for a copy of the master tapes. If they don’t have an office, or if they refuse to give you the masters, small claims court it is.

  20. Macgyver says:

    You should have sued them 10 months ago. But sue them now.
    You should never pay all in advance, it should’ve been 50% up front, then the other 50% when you receive.

    • dentam says:

      Although I’m sure they exist, most videographers/photographers will require more than 50% of the payment prior to the wedding. Do you get to pay for the wedding cake after you eat it? How about the caterers? The reception hall?

    • Mom says:

      I guess you won’t get anyone to work at your wedding. Most expect full payment before they take a single shot.

      • scoosdad says:

        Exactly right, because by the time the video is done and it’s time to collect, the bride and groom are basically broke from paying all the other wedding vendors or paying for the honeymoon and have no money left to pay for the video work. It’s pretty standard practice that anyone providing services at a wedding gets paid in full up front because of this. Not to mention that if a wedding is cancelled at the last minute, the vendors can’t rebook the day with someone else’s wedding and they lose potential income for that date.

    • Peggee is deeply offended by impetulant, pernicious little snots disrespecting her and violating her personal space at Best Buy. says:

      So it would be okay if they were only out $500?

  21. BrazDane says:

    Sorry for the OP this happened. WHen you hire someone and pay for their services you have the right to expect some professionalism.

    Some advice for others:
    Make sure you have a backup or two with video cameras. If you have a photography-buff in the family or among friends, ask this person to act as backup.

    Meet with the backup videographer a few days before and agree on what he or she most definitely shouldn’t miss – same with backup photographer. Tell them to maybe keep an eye on the ones hired to do the job and either mimic their shooting positions and timing (without getting in the way) or to alert someone you trust to fix it, if they see the videographer or photographer not getting the agreed-upon shots.
    Finally, if you have lots of helpful friends or family members attend, maybe you can split up the tasks for them. That way, one person doesn’t run around the whole night carrying a camera. Pick someone who you know doesn’t drink (much) to get some of the later stuff – as that well-meaning friend might just get a bit too drunk to do a good job ;o)
    And finally, get someone who know how to use a camera to be backup. Don’t pick that old aunt or best friend, who’s never taken more than a few bad holiday shots with a cell phone. There’s nothing worse than getting blurry or unfocused shots because the person ‘forgot’ to adjust that for most of the evening.
    Finally, if the light makes photography difficult at your wedding, requiring expert use of a flash, consider having the light turned on in the room when there are shots you simply don’t want to come out bad. Few things are worse than having a picture destroyed by a bad flash setting or seeing the backup camera focusing ont eh fake smoke and completely missing the couple.

  22. dourdan says:

    1000 dollars?!! why? when i got married i had a realitve tape it for free.

    but yeah for 1000 dollars take them to court.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I married in China and it was at a government department (think DMV). They asked, “Do you love her?” I affirmed and they put a little red stamp in her book (I took title). The end. No photographer, nothing; It was like registering a car.

  23. wackydan says:

    References references references. Especially in times of a down economy.

    I can’t tell you how many drywall guys I picked through until I found one that was a true professional. I had one guy show up in his wife’s station wagon to give me a quote when it was obvious he was just a laid off corporate hack trying to supplement his unemployment.

    Same formula for photographers….Anyone can shoot videos and take pictures and be creative about it. Not everyone is going to do as good a job and be timely about it if it is not their main job in life.

  24. AI says:

    If the company won’t cooperate, there’s not much you can do other than sue, as a service was provided. I doubt the contract said much about quality of the video or time to receive it, so it won’t even be easy to sue.

    $1000 is actually quite cheap for a wedding videographer/photographer. I paid over twice that and I got one of the cheaper companies in town.

  25. El_Fez says:

    All I am asking for is the unedited version of our wedding

    It’ll never, ever happen. Yeah it was lousy that the photographer failed to deliver the agreed product – you should certainly get your money back for that – the video footage is technically his. While they might be nice and let you get a copy, getting the original tapes – well, you wouldn’t get the original negatives from a photo shoot of your wedding, would you?

    It’s your image, but it’s his copyright and his property*

    * Depending, of course, on how the contract to shoot the wedding was worded. Generally tho, the photographer retains the right to the footage/negatives.

  26. nosense22 says:

    All good advice, but dmanman, I paid $5,500 for video in 2008. It’s nice, but I should have gone the $1K route (not this service).

  27. common_sense84 says:

    Small claims court. Ask for the raw video. If they cannot provide this, ask for maximum damages.

  28. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    I’m a photographer and have read many stories like this. I, personally, do not shoot weddings for money as I am not ready for that level of stress in my life. There are good wedding photographers and a massive number of wannabe posers. The easy money is the draw and nowadays everybody and their brother have cameras and think, “Oh sure, I can shoot a wedding, especially for a thousand dollars!”.

    I love this guide. It is mostly written for the photographer but pay particular attention to the “Choosing a Photographer” section.

    http://www.aljacobs.com/the_wedding_guide/

  29. Nessiah says:

    It took 6 months or so to get my wedding video, which I kinda liked b/c it was far enough away where you can kinda look back and be like “oh ya”, but not too long where you are like where is my f’in video?

    However different from this story is that my videographer did a fantastic job (though costing twice as much).

  30. Intheknow says:

    References!!!!!

  31. alexmmr says:

    Videographer here. I’m still nervous about recording weddings because so much can go wrong and you can’t get the footage again.

    Some tips for what to look for in a videographer though:

    1) Pay half up front and half upon delivery. This makes sure that the person showing up to shoot gets paid for their time from that up front money, and still gives incentive to get the editing done.

    2) Pay extra and put it in your contract that you will receive the raw tapes or footage no later than 14 days after the ceremony. Editing is an art and if you don’t happen to like the artistic sensibility of the editor you’ve hired, you are free to hire a different editor or give it a go yourself. And 14 days is plenty of time for anyone to copy the tapes into their computer before relinquishing them to you.

    3) Insist on no less than 2 cameras running throughout the ceremony and for important reception moments and at least 1 of those cameras is manned. But this is the MINIMUM. What you really want is one stationary camera set up in the back getting an overview of the whole room and two operators on either side of the room, each manning a camera. This will allow for close-ups and if Uncle Fred decides to stand in front of a camera throughout the whole ceremony, or a battery dies, there are 2 other cameras running to capture footage.

    4) One camera should be connected to a wireless mic that is worn by the groom. Make sure the groom is familiar with how to identify whether or not the microphone is turned on. There is nothing more frustrating than a groom who decides to “help” and turns off the mic just as the bride is coming down the aisle and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

    5) One camera should be recording sound via a shotgun mic. This will capture ambient noise that you might want to include (like Aunt Harriet sobbing) and serves as a back up audio capture in case you have one of those helpful grooms.

    When you watch the demos of other weddings your potential videographer has recorded, look to see if things are covered by multiple camera angles. If you see the bride and groom cutting into the cake and it cuts to a close-up of the knife sliding in and then back to the full scene, the videographer records with more than one camera. If everything is just a chronological record of events with no artistic interpretation like I just described, they only shoot with one camera and that increases the chances of something going wrong 10 times over.

    For $1,000, you’re probably going to get one person with one camera and the chances of a problem are huge. Starting around $1,500 (but $3,000 is still completely reasonable), you might be able to get that second camera operator and the odds of a problem are reduced to almost nothing. Or at least if there is a problem, they have a built in back-up plan which may not be perfect, but at least you shouldn’t end up with the entire ceremony skipped like what happened here. Any of us can accidentally realize we haven’t been recording for the last 5 minutes when we thought we were, but the odds of that happening to two people at the same time are pretty damned slim.

  32. cornstalker says:

    This might be beside the point, but I’d start asking your friends and other guests if they recorded any videos of their own at your wedding that they might be willing to share. I was just as a friend’s wedding last weekend and had fun recording a bunch of it with my own camera for kicks and giggles.

  33. Sil_369 says:

    It depends on the company, if they are low on staff (eg, 1 editor only) it will take a while for them to film/edit/finalize every wedding. I think it’s normal for the wait period to be some months because of that.

    It sounds like the videographer was inexperienced, eg “At one point the camera was actually knocked over.” This wasn’t cut from the final video????!