Frustrated bride contacts Help Me Hank

DETROIT – Many couples want to capture their wedding memories forever with photos and video. And many will tell you hiring the photographer is one of the biggest decisions they face during the planning process. However, sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, things don't go ask planned.

That's a lesson Michelle Fox of Washington Township learned the hard way. She did a lot of research as she mapped out her wedding, which took place on June 28, 2014. She thought she'd hired the perfect photographer to capture her big day.

"I loved his photos and I was so excited. You know, that's something that you're going to have forever," she told Help Me Hank.

Fox bought the package that included engagement photos and "save-the-date" cards. Those items were delivered without any problems. Fox said everything went smoothly on her wedding day, but a problem emerged as she waited for final delivery of three photos albums: one for the happy couple and one for each set of parents.

Bride's frustrations grow

Fox admits there was no deadline, in writing, for the photo albums to be delivered. By December of 2014, she said she saw some proofs and was hopeful the albums would be coming shortly. However, months and months went by, and the albums were never delivered. When she contacted the photographer, she said she received promises, explanations, and then silence.      

"I've emailed him a million times. Maybe not a million, but you know a lot of times... called him...he answered a couple of times and then he stopped answering," she said.

The Help Me Hank consumer unit reached out to photographer Clint McLennan, the man behind American Photographers. He did respond to our calls and admitted he'd run into problems with Fox's order. He promised to finish the job. It took a few more weeks for him to pull the albums together, but they finally arrived at Fox's home.

"When they actually came, I was so excited! I called my husband, I called my mom," Fox said.

In the end, Fox is happy that she was able to find her happy ending, and the Help Me Hank unit is happy to have helped her.

"Thank you so much to Help Me Hank for helping me get this done," she said. "I honestly don't think I would have my pictures right now, and like I said  it's such an important memory."

What you need to know

While planning a wedding is an exciting time, it's also a critical time to be a smart consumer. Working with the Better Business Bureau, Help Me Hank has come up with some advice that can prevent heartache for any happy couple.

Hiring a photographer

  • Do your best to get personal references. It's probably best to hear from someone you know and trust about who they used and had a good experience. Many times other wedding vendors will offer references, but you should still do additional research.
  • Check online reviews to see if anyone has reported any problems.
  • Make sure to put your order in writing.
  • Add delivery deadlines to any contract so you can hold the photographer accountable.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Many photographers run small businesses. If there's only one photographer in the shop, what happens if he/she gets sick? What happens to the delivery deadline if there are business-related emergencies?

Hiring a limo company

  • Make sure the company has a state license.
  • Once again, get personal references and check online reviews.
  • Try to avoid pre-paying the whole amount. It's okay to put down a deposit, but be sure to hold back some of the fee until the service is delivered.
  • Don't pay the driver in cash.

The florist

  • Fresh flowers are perishable and the final bouquet or arrangements may need to changed based on what's available on your wedding day.
  • Write out the floral plan for your wedding, make sure you're on the same page with the florist, and all parties should sign that plan.
  • Ask how the florist will handle last minute substitutions and charges.