Planning a wedding often comes equipped with dramatic, unpredictable circumstances; however, it is not always common for the bride and groom to attract drama after they say, “I do.” For Neely and Andrew Moldovan, memories of their dream wedding were allegedly held captive by their wedding photographer, Andrea Polito. A few months after their wedding, the couple announced on a local news outlet and several social media websites that Polito refused to give them their wedding photos if they did not pay an additional fee of $150, on top of the thousands of dollars they already paid. The Dallas-based duo gained a high level of public sympathy, which eventually led to the closing of Polito’s business and the downfall of her reputation as a professional photographer.
Word of mouth is perhaps the most convincing form of advertising, and may have the power to make or break a business. In the case of Andrea Polito, the Moldovan’s negative review resulted in the real-life consequence of Polito giving up her career and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential future revenue. Without sympathy for how their actions affected Polito, the Moldovan’s claim that they were within their rights as customers to complain if they were unsatisfied with the services rendered by Polito.
The problem with the Moldovan’s feedback of their experience working with Polito is that their account was fictitious. Polito claims that according to their contract, the Moldovan’s only had to fill out a form, decide on a cover for their wedding album, and pay a fee of $125, not $150. The photographer was even able to show proof in emails that she tried to accommodate the Moldovan’s so they could pick up their photos. Instead of trying to resolve the issue civilly, the Moldovan’s ignored Polito’s pleas in exchange for a false news story that heightened their popularity with the public.
Polito filed a lawsuit against the Moldovan’s for defamation, disparagement, and civil conspiracy. A jury found the couple liable for these offenses, and came to the decision that $1 million is appropriate compensation. The couple may challenge the verdict, but has not provided a statement confirming their future intentions to pursue an appeal.