wedding hell

“Malicious” videographer walks out of same-sex couple’s wedding

Clarissa and Teegan on their wedding day
Clarissa and Teegan on their wedding day (Photo: Tiffany Dawn Photography/Asheville/Supplied)

A newly-married couple says their big day was ruined when a videographer they hired walked out before they even made it down the aisle.

Clarissa and Teegan Templeton got married on April 3 in Hendersonville, North Carolina. They said they’d been working hard over the previous 14 months to save up for their dream wedding at Green Mountain Farm.

Because of Covid restrictions, they could not invite everyone they wanted to attend, so they were particularly keen for their big day to be captured on video.

They looked around online and made a booking for a videographer from Tolman Media. The brand promotes itself as “America & Canada’s leading wedding photo/video team.”

The women made the booking in June 2020, and a month before their wedding, a videographer, Charlotte-based Seth Curl, emailed them to introduce himself.

However, on the big day itself, as they began their walk down the aisle, they realized the videographer, who’d they seen upon arrival at the venue, had disappeared.

Clarissa told Insider, “I had a mini panic attack. I started to panic in my head and told myself maybe he ran to the car or had some technical difficulty. I refused to let myself focus on it anymore and put 110% of my focus on Teegan in that moment we were sharing together. I wanted to be in that moment.”

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After the wedding vows, the couple posed for photos. Clarissa asked the photographer – not hired through the same company – what had happened to the videographer.

“She stood there and said, ‘He left,’ and I could hear the pain in her voice. I almost fell to the ground crying.”

The couple’s wedding planner, Ashley Hansen, called Curl. According to Hansen, he said he left because “of his faith and that he didn’t feel comfortable because it’s a same-sex marriage.”

Hansen called the South Carolina offices of Tolman Media, who were able to send a second videographer. They arrived towards the end of the day, and the brides were able to recreate a few moments for him to record but, according to Clarissa, it all felt “fake.”

Clarissa says Curl’s actions spoiled what should have been an amazing day.

She told the News & Observer, “There is no way to sugarcoat it. It honestly ruined the entire day, and my wife and I were very depressed on our seven-hour drive to Florida for our honeymoon. We didn’t even eat at our own wedding.”

The couple say when they initially contacted the South Carolina branch of Tolman Media in 2020, they informed them they were a same-sex couple. They were assured this was not a problem.

The job was then assigned to Curl, a local licensee in North Carolina. He twice emailed Clarissa to confirm the job. The subject of them being a same-sex couple did not come up in their email exchange.

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However, Clarissa says her google email account photo is an image of her kissing her fiancée on the cheek. As she had already told Tolman Media she was marrying another woman, she had no concerns.

After the wedding, the couple say they approached Tolman Media for a refund. After 11 days passed and a refund was not forthcoming, Clarissa posted what had happened to social media.

Tolman Media promptly gave a full refund and said they wouldn’t offer any more jobs to Curl.

“Tolman Media’s branch of SC has assured me that Seth Curl is no longer employed by them,” said Clarissa on Facebook. “They have assured that he will not be working for them ever again and that he acted solely on his own behalf. I have received 100% of my money back, thanks to all of you who raised awareness of their wrongdoing.”

Tolman Media President Ben Hillyard told News & Observer that Curl had not followed company procedures and fully discussed with Clarissa what she wanted from the job. If procedures had been followed, he would have been aware it was a same-sex couple, allowing him to voice any objections.

Hillyard also said the South Carolina branch of Tolman Media was unaware the videographer had any problem with shooting same-sex weddings. If they had known, “We would have used our non-discrimination policy and removed him from our organization.”

He told Insider the videographer’s actions had been “malicious” and went against what the brand stands for.

Hillyard said this was the first time this sort of incident has happened for Tolman Media. He reiterated the company will not work with Curl again.

On April 17, Curl sent Clarissa an email saying: “On April 3, I did something that I have never done, nor ever had to do before. Because of my faith and what I support, I made the decision to leave and not film Clarissa and Teegan’s wedding day.

“This was an action that I knew would have severe consequences. I realize what I did has ruined a beautiful wedding and left so many heart broken (sic).”

Curl said he was not influenced by anyone at Tolman Media and that, “This was a decision that I made myself, and will take full responsibility for it. I want to sincerely apologize to everyone that I hurt, and especially to Clarissa and Teegan for what I did. I apologize for how I went about the situation and for not communicating with the wedding party before I did what I did.”

Hillyard says Tolman Media is trying to produce a video montage, using as many photos and video clips they can get from the day, to ensure the brides have a decent memento. He acknowledges it won’t be as good as a full video capturing the real ceremony. He also says Tolman Media will remind all its licensees about its non-discrimination policies.

“We’ve already screwed up. We’re going to do everything we can to make it as good as it can be.”

He continued, “We don’t care who you love, we don’t care how you love. We are there to perform a service, to document your love.”

Clarissa says she felt it important to speak out to try to ensure this doesn’t happen to other couples: “At the very least we can try to start a ripple effect, a change in our society for the better. My love isn’t hurting anybody, it has absolutely no impact on anyone else.”