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Wedding industry professionals see a disturbing trend of bait and switch

Wedding industry professionals see a disturbing trend of bait and switch. (ABC7)

Professionals in the wedding industry say they’re seeing a disturbing trend of bait and switch.

Photographers, makeup artists, and bakers say they’re being lied to so brides and grooms can get a better deal.

Lisa Haynes, a professional photographer, says she was hired for a “prayer ceremony” that costs a few hundred dollars. But when an uncle pulled out a chair and said it was for the bride, she quickly realized she would be required to do the work of a wedding, a thousand-dollar service.

Brittany Oliver, another professional photographer, says the same thing happened to her.

The bride told her it was a "vow renewal," but the groom let the truth slip.

“We told the hotel it was a vow renewal, so we didn't pay the wedding price,” Oliver said. “I was stuck there.”

Professional photographer Cynthia Cephas says she got stuck, too.

“I said, ‘Is this a wedding?'" Cephas said. "He said, ‘No, it's a social gathering.’”

More than anything, these professionals say they all felt hurt. They want to connect with clients, make happy memories together.

Ariel Meadow Stallings, the Seattle-based author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides explains the reason for what she calls “the great white lie.”

“Couples are feeling frustrated, feeling there was a wedding tax and things getting marked up when getting bids,” Meadow Stallings said. “Weddings are high stress events, with a lot of family expectations, cultural expectations, and unfortunately, there are corners of the wedding industry that exploit the insecurity for financial benefit.”

But photographers say that with weddings they bring more equipment, they edit for hours, and they pay for perfection.

When 7 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to Haynes' client, she sent an email, saying Haynes took photos during the agreed period of just two hours and that her wedding ceremony was later. She said she was "not currently married."

But that's not what she wrote in an apology to Haynes after the event, saying, "the prayer service turned into a wedding, which was a surprise to all of us."

A surprise?

Haynes calls it something else, “It's bait and switch.”

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