People shell out a lot of money to have their weddings documented with pictures and video, but one Connecticut couple almost didn't have the chance to relive their special day.
Kristi Wood and her husband Marc Karotain, of Wolcott, exchanged vows on in August 2013 in Waterbury.
They paid a Colorado-based online company, Premier Event Services, in full, $700, to record and edit video of their ceremony and the reception that followed.
As their one-year anniversary approached, they still hadn’t received their video and neither the company nor the contracted videographer were returning their calls and emails.
“The smiles on everyone’s faces, the looks of awe,” said Karotain, explaining what he had hoped to see in the video. “Stuff like that you just can’t relive.”
The couple says the day went off without a hitch, just as they had always imagined. Their videographer, Brandon Luckain of Brooklyn, New York, arrived and did everything they asked.
The first sign of a problem came soon after they returned from their honeymoon.
When calling the videographer to go over the editing process, Luckain told them he would not start editing until he had been compensated by Premier Event Services.
“He was very nice about it and said that he didn’t get paid and he doesn’t start the editing until he gets paid,” said Kristi Wood, recalling her September conversation.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters began making calls and tracked down Luckain at his home in Brooklyn.
Luckain said the reason he did not edit the video was because he still hadn’t been paid the $400 he was owed by Premier Event Services.
He said this wasn’t the first time he had worked as a contractor for Premier Event Services, but at previous events, he had been hired as a still photographer.
“I would send them a PayPal invoice and they would send it back to me within one or two days,” said Luckain. “Usually it wouldn’t take more than a week, two weeks [to get paid.]"
Following his interview, Luckain made it clear that he hoped to resolve the issue, so NBC Connecticut Troubleshooter George Colli called the owner of Premier Event Services, Steven Thomas.
Thomas expressed that a “communications error” was to blame for the missing video. He stated his company’s policy was not to compensate videographers until receiving the final edited video.
The two talked for about 15 minutes before coming to a resolution. Within minutes, Thomas transferred the majority of the money owed to Luckain and gave the couple a credit to have their video professionally edited.
And the Troubleshooters left Brooklyn with the entire file of raw wedding video.
Thomas expressed his regrets about the situation.
“I’d like to offer my apology, that’s the first and most important thing,” said Thomas, who estimates his company contracts out videographers, photographers and deejays for around 1,000 events a year nationwide. “They had to wait that long for their video and they didn’t know if they would get it at all, that’s not what they should have had to think about.”
Back in Wolcott, it didn’t take long for Kristi and Marc, along with their two young children, to hit the "play" button.
The sights and sounds on the screen brought them back to what they called the "greatest" day of their lives.
“It almost feels like it was yesterday again,” said Karotain, with a smile. “Now that we’re actually watching it, it’s like no time went by. Thank you.”
The Department of Consumer Protection has advice for anyone looking to hire a wedding videographer:
- Get references from friends and people whom you trust.
- Check online with a Google or Bing search for complaints about the company.
- Contact the Department of Consumer Protection (1-800-842-2649) and the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are complaints against the company.
- Carefully read all contracts and be sure you understand them before you sign. Be sure you do have a signed contract, and keep a copy.
- Get every detail in writing and be sure both you and the business agree on all points before signing a contract.
- Use a credit card for all deposit payments – where possible - and give the smallest possible deposit that you can. If something goes wrong, payments you made by a credit card can be disputed through the credit card company, but payments made by check or cash will be much harder to get back.
- Once you have booked your videographer or photographer, stay aware of the company’s current operations. In any economy, businesses can and do fail. Make sure you’re up to date.
Contracts should include:
- Specifics of the event – date, time, place.
- What are the cancellation policies and deadlines?
- How much of your deposit is non-refundable?
- What is included in the cost?
- Specify in writing the photos or scenes that absolutely must be included. Provide some overall direction.
- Agree in writing to a timeframe in which you’ll receive and approve your video.
- Contingencies, such as how much will it cost for an extra hour?
- Preferred videographer/photographer, if appropriate. (When booking photography or video services, you may want a particular person assigned to your wedding because you have seen their work and really like it. Make sure this individual’s name is specified on the contract.)