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An honest review

Every girl thinks that her wedding day will be the happiest day of her life and I was no exception. I had waited 37 years to find that person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And I hadn’t just found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I had found a family with his two amazing children. After four years together and ten months before our wedding date, after making $8000 in nonrefundable deposits, I discovered my fiancé was cheating on me. I called Mary Rust the day I found out to tell her the wedding was off. She immediately said my deposit was not refundable. Since she still had 10 months to book another event for that day, I asked if I could get some money back if she could find someone else. She said no. I had just sent another payment, which had been cashed only two days prior and when I inquired if I could get that back, she said no. I don’t remember a lot of other details about that day. I was devastated, not just to lose the family I treasured, but to lose so much money on a wedding that was not going to happen. My fiancé had filed for bankruptcy when I met him so all the debt we had accumulated in our four years together was in my name, including his tuition bills, a car I had financed for him and renovations we made on my home to accommodate his kids. After taking a loss on the car he left in front of my house, keys dropped in the mailbox, I was left to figure out how to pay off the $30,000 in debt that remains. Obviously my dire financial situation consumed me, as did packing up the rooms of the kids I had cared for as my own for four years. My friends and family wanted to do anything they could to ease my burden, so they offered to contact my wedding vendors to try and get some of the deposits back. My friend, Nicole, was met with kindness and compassion from everyone but Mary, who spoke only of the contract. She was short and abrasive, constantly referring to the contract. I understand contracts. What I don’t understand is her total lack of empathy. This was a woman who spent an hour with my family taking our engagement photos, more time than any of our other wedding vendors. I had asked her if the kids could be in our photos since I was not just marrying the man, but making a family with his children. She was always very pleasant in our interactions before I had to cancel the wedding but could not have been colder or less empathetic to me after I canceled. If you would want someone to share in the happiness of the best day of your life, wouldn’t you expect that same person to show some compassion on the worst? A few months ago, another friend contacted Mary to see if I could use the deposit I had paid for the wedding photos toward a photo session with my family. My florist (Marry Me Flowers) was kind enough to use the deposit I had made towards flowers for another occasion which is what gave us that idea. My friend contacted her via email and Mary replied back to the both of us, including me on the email but never addressing me directly. She told my friend that if I wanted to ask her questions, I needed to contact her myself and stop having my friends contact her on my behalf. And the money I had paid was for a contract for wedding photos only and could not be used towards any other photo sessions. When I met Mary, I really felt like she was a perfect fit for us as I knew she was part of a blended family and would understand how important it was for the kids to be a part of our wedding day. Even though I was not able to get money back from my other wedding vendors, I would certainly recommend them to anyone who asked. They treated me with kindness, which meant so much to me at such a difficult time. The same can not be said for Mary Rust. Even during what has been the worst time of my life, I still believe what you put out in the world comes back to you.


Decent Photos, Poor Communication

Dana Tate of Feels Like Today Photography/Dana Tate Weddings photographed my outdoor wedding in southern Illinois in May of 2013. Her photography was good overall, and she was kind enough to work with us even though we actually lived far away from the St. Louis area. She even gifted us all the photos from our engagement shoot for free. However, Dana’s follow-up after the wedding was somewhat problematic. For instance, the gallery that she initially prepared included several portraits of individual groomsmen with their eyes closed, and we had to make a special request to see the “outtakes” that Dana had not included so that we could select alternate shots of the groomsmen to be retouched and added to our final gallery. While the two-star rating I’ve given her reflects that follow-up in part, it also reflects two other things: 1.) the *extremely* poor performance of her videographer and former business partner, Joey Goldsmith of Something, Something Video LLC, and 2.) Dana’s response to our dissatisfaction with Joey’s work. Dana had brought Joey to our attention because she was beginning a photo-video partnership with him, and they gave us a discount for adding his services to hers. Unfortunately, Joey’s final edited video was so terrible that we couldn't finish watching it: the camerawork was shaky to the point of being sickening, Joey and his assistant cameraman were audibly sighing and giggling on tape during the ceremony, and the white balance between the cameras was way off. On top of all these problems critical footage was missing. When we told Dana of our dissatisfaction with Joey’s work, she suggested that we should discuss the matter with Joey directly since videography was not her specialty. Moreover, she made a point of claiming that she had only "recommended" Joey, that we had booked Joey directly through his company, and that she had no real record of our agreement with him, even though Dana had directly managed *all* of our initial contact with Joey and had even vetted Joey’s contract before passing it on to us. She had also told us explicitly that she was going to place a copy of our signed contract with Joey in her files. Every single one of these details is documented in the emails we had exchanged with Dana before the wedding, but, when problems with Joey's work arose, Dana tried to pretend that she had only recommended him and, therefore, that she had no control over or responsibility for what had happened. In the end, Joey admitted the poor quality of his final product and refunded us 2/3’s of what we paid him; the final 1/3 he retained for a 3-minute highlights video that he had produced for us. Incredibly, he also informed us that he had actually decided *before* our wedding to leave the wedding video business entirely because he no longer enjoyed it. After receiving our refund from Joey, we learned from Dana herself that she had known of Joey’s decision to leave the wedding video business *before our wedding* and yet she had never told us. Had we known that Joey was no longer interested in doing what we were hiring him to do, we most certainly would have attempted to cancel our contract with him and would have found someone else to videotape our wedding. This has been a long review, but the details count here. If you work with Dana, I’m sure the photos you receive will be fine on the whole. However, I suggest retaining careful records of all your communications with her, and I suggest that you proceed with caution if Dana suggests or recommends the services of any of her business partners. Be sure to double and triple check everything that Dana tells you about how the services of her partners are related to her own. Most importantly, double and triple check what guarantee Dana is willing to offer regarding the quality of work those partners will perform and also what support Dana will provide if the services of those partners prove to be subpar.


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