Newly married couple Andrew and Neely Moldovan were so pissed at a wedding photographer Andrea Polito over a $125 fee that they decided to ruin her career, launching an online campaign against her business. On Friday, a jury decided they owed her $1 million for defamation.
The cost of weddings is exorbitant, so it’s understandable that one might become enraged by extra charges—just make sure you didn’t sign a contract stating you would pay them. The $125 dollars was for the cost of a wedding album cover, which has a variety of iterations and so comes separately, as Polito had reportedly explained to the couple when they booked her and had outlined in their contract. Nevertheless, they were mad as hell and refused to pay, which meant they didn’t receive the high-res versions of their pictures.
NBC reports that Neely Moldovan is a successful blogger, with a large social media following, and the couple eventually attracted the attention of local news outlets, which shared their story of having their wedding memories “held hostage” by Polito.
The Washington Post reports that transcripts of Neely Moldovan’s texts and comments on social media show she planned deliberately to ruin Polito’s career:
“I’m going apes‑‑‑ on our photographer,” Andrew Moldovan texted a friend on Jan. 12, 2015, according to transcripts Polito’s lawyer shared with The Post. “We want our f‑‑‑ing wedding album, which we already paid for.”
“We are hoping that our story makes the news and completely ruins her business,” Neely Moldovan wrote to someone the same day, according to court records.
Polito knew nothing about this, she said, until her studio manager texted her a screenshot of Neely Moldovan’s latest Instagram post: “No big deal NBC in our apt.”
Polito may not ever get the money from the Moldovans, who have fought hard against the accusations from the photographer and they plan to challenge the verdict, claiming she hasn’t lost any business after getting dragged on the news. Polito has spent most of her savings and retirement fund, and hasn’t been able to work as a wedding photographer in years. Polito told the The Dallas Morning News that she’s just relieved people know the truth now:
“I’m emotionally exhausted. This has been a very long battle,” she said. “Last Friday when the verdict was read I felt a little bit relieved, but most importantly I feel my reputation was restored to myself. What’s been so hard the past couple of years has been feeling so ashamed of this story.”