An Oregon woman has joined a group of more than 300 angry couples from around the country looking to find a man who they say failed to give them videos taken at their weddings.
Emily Youngblutt, who lives in Salem, is speaking out in the hopes that someone, somewhere might help find the man.
“Most of us have been quiet because we hoped that we’d eventually get our product,” she said. “But he’s gone off the map. We think he is officially done with us.”
The women paid at least $2,500 each in advance to 63 Films & Photography. While once based in Louisiana, the video company had a national customer base after being listed on The Knot, a wedding planning website.
Youngblutt, now 26, found a link to the company while organizing her June 2017 wedding in Independence, a small town near Salem. Reviews praised Tregg Istre, who told Youngblutt he was the owner when they talked on the phone.
Istre said he accepted jobs in other states by relying on a network of photographers whose work he’d oversee. A videographer showed up at the wedding and told Youngblutt and her husband, Theron Reidhead, to expect an edited six-minute video with music by August.
When nothing arrived, Youngblutt called Istre. She said he promised she’d get the video.
“After that, I never heard from him again,” she said.
As one month drifted into the next, Youngblutt turned to her computer and began doing some research on the company she’d hired to capture that special day. That’s where she found other couples who had not received their videos. They’d formed a Facebook group to share their stories and figure out what to do next.
She learned that when the members of the group called Istre’s number, a computer voice said the wireless customer was unavailable. The 63 Films & Photography website closed and is no longer listed on The Knot.
The film company now has an “F” rating from the Louisiana Better Business Bureau, said Sharane Gott, organization president.
“We don’t get many of those,” she said. “We’ve had a number of complaints, and the company has chosen to not respond to them, or to our inquiries.”
She said consumers looking at a business on the internet should always add: BBB at the end of the name, which will automatically link to Better Business Bureau reviews and complaints anywhere in the country.
Late last year, several Louisiana brides fed up with getting nowhere contacted Brittany Weiss, a reporter at a television station in Baton Rouge to see if she could help. Weiss tracked Istre down. In a story broadcast on the station, Istre said his team of photographers had left him and he was overbooked. But he promised to finish all contracted projects.
And then he vanished.
“It’s incredibly sad for these women,” Weiss said.
Youngblutt said couples spend money on wedding day videos not only to capture a precious moment, but also to capture loved ones who will one day be gone.
“There’s a bride in the Facebook group whose mom passed away shortly after her wedding,” Youngblutt said. “She has no pictures or video of her mom on her wedding day. “
Youngblutt said a woman in the Facebook group ended up texting Istre’s phone 30 times a day for weeks until he agreed to meet her in a Louisiana coffee shop with his computer, where he had 20 wedding videos stored. The woman used a hard drive to download the videos. Using names from the Facebook group, she sent copies to appropriate brides, one of them being Youngblutt.
“I was lucky,” Youngblutt said. “I have the raw video from my wedding.”
Youngblutt said another woman in the group hired a private investigator, who determined that Istre left Louisiana, whereabouts unknown. She said some women in the Facebook group talked with lawyers who told them that the amount of money sought wasn’t worth the expense.
“All anyone wants is their video,” Youngblutt said.
Youngblutt and her husband had hired a wedding photographer, so at least they have photos of their nuptials, she said.
Now they’re saving money to hire a local videographer — who can take the raw footage of their wedding, edit it and add music.
But in the end, she’s philosophical.
“At least we’re all still married,” she said.