Ben and Kathleen Aliff got married just before sunset on a balmy Saturday last November. It was a laid-back ceremony in a converted dairy barn in Fort Mill, S.C., followed by a cocktail hour set to fiddle music, a pig-picking and candle-lit dancing.
A videographer was there, too, darting among the 200 guests. But nine months later, the Aliffs haven't gotten their wedding DVD that they've paid $1,000 for.
Now, they're taking the videographer, Hi-Defining Moments of Rock Hill, to court, they say.
“When he was here, he was spot-on with the personality,” Kathleen Aliff, 23, said Wednesday at the couple's Dilworth home. “We were like, ‘This is going to be awesome.' And then it crumbled.”
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Reached at his office Thursday, videographer Howard Adkins Jr. of Hi-Defining Moments said he's finishing a few other weddings and will have the Aliffs' DVD done in two weeks.
“It's really bizarre,” he said of the dispute. “All it is is, I'm just backed up.”
The Aliffs were married Nov. 10 in Fort Mill, surrounded by bridesmaids in burgundy and bouquets of wildflowers and sunflowers. At the reception, the couple drank Winterhook beer, their favorite, and danced to Elvis Presley's “I Can't Help Falling in Love with You.”
The couple wanted a videographer because Ben Aliff's aging grandmother couldn't make the trip from Virginia.
Ben Aliff, 29, who works for Wachovia, found Hi-Defining Moments online. He and his wife, who works in human resources for Carolinas HealthCare System, now joke that it was the one vendor he chose – and the one that hasn't worked out.
The company's services were about $500 cheaper than other vendors the Aliffs considered. They paid him $500 when they signed the contract in October and paid another $500 at the wedding, they said.
Adkins told the Aliffs they'd have their DVD in about six weeks, and they planned to pay him the final $500 when they received the product, they said.
Two months after the wedding, the newlyweds say they called to ask about the DVD. Adkins replied that he'd have it done the next week. When that rolled around, with no video, the Aliffs called again, they said. And again. Eventually, Adkins stopped returning their calls, the couple said.
The Aliffs complained to the Better Business Bureau of the Southern Piedmont, posted a poor review on a wedding Web site and contacted their attorney.
They got in touch with Adkins recently and demanded their money and the raw footage, they said.
On Friday, the Aliffs said they mailed a small-claims case to York County, S.C., court officials, alleging that Hi-Defining Moments had not fulfilled contractual obligations. They're asking for the $1,000 they paid, the raw footage, attorneys' fees and money to pay a new editor to produce a video.
Adkins said Thursday he has put several hours of work into the Aliffs' DVD but that there are four weddings in front of it. In addition, the other parts of his business, such as commercial video production, are overwhelming his one-man operation, he said.
“It's not a criminal thing,” he said. “There's just a lot of work to do.”
Experts say wedding videos shouldn't take longer than a few months.
At Dreamlight Films in south Charlotte, wedding videos take three to four months, company Director Matt Francis said. Other companies can turn a video around in six weeks or two months.
Two other customers have filed complaints with the BBB about Adkins' videography and a piano-tuning service he also operated.
In March, Wanda Gomez of New Jersey alleged that she paid Hi-Defining Moments $1,600 to record her twin sister's May 2007 wedding. Adkins told her she'd have the DVD in two to three months, but as of March, 10 months later, she hadn't received it, she said.
Gomez finally received the DVD in June, she said Thursday.
The Aliffs aren't sure they'll ever see their wedding video.
“We have two agendas with this thing,” Ben Aliff said. “We want our DVD back, but most importantly, we're not going to give up. We don't want this to happen to someone else.”