After saving for over a year and planning down the last detail for the wedding day of their dreams, a same-sex couple in North Carolina were devastated when their videographer ghosted on them as they made their way down the aisle.
For 14 months Clarissa and Teegan Templeton each worked two jobs to save up for their dream wedding at a scenic farm in North Carolina. Having done their research, they booked the venue, the photographer, the flowers, and a videographer through Tolman Media.
Clarissa told the News Observer that in all of their planning, the couple was careful to search for LGBTQ-friendly companies
But on the big day, the videographer decided to abandon the gig moments before the ceremony was to begin without saying a word to anyone.
Clarissa Templeton says she discovered Tolman Media on Instagram and made the booking through the company’s South Carolina branch in June 2020 for their April 3 wedding.
The company has several branches across the U.S. and reportedly contracts with many videographers.
The couple says they were in email contact with the camera man, Seth Curl, via email leading up to the big day.
Capturing the happy moment on video was especially important to the couple since, with the ongoing COVID pandemic, many family members and friends weren’t able to attend. Teegan and Clarissa hoped a video to share with loved ones would be the next-best thing.
Teegan, who arrived at the venue first, recalls seeing the videographer early on. But as the ceremony began, Clarissa realized he was no where to be found amid the crowd of attendees.
“I had a mini panic attack,” Clarissa shared with Insider. “I started to panic in my head and told myself maybe he ran to the car or had some technical difficulty.”
She added, “I refused to let myself focus on it anymore and put 110% of my focus on Teegan in that moment we were sharing together. I wanted to be in that moment.”
Following the ceremony, the couple began to take their wedding pictures with their photographer (hired separately from Tolman Media). When Clarissa asked the photographer if she knew anything about the videographer’s disappearance, the photographer paused before answering, “He left.”
During this time, the couple’s wedding planner, Ashley Hansen, scrambled to contact Curl via phone. He reportedly told Hansen he left because “of his faith and that he didn’t feel comfortable because it’s a same-sex marriage.”
Ultimately, Hansen tracked down the folks at the South Carolina office of Tolman Media who dispatched another videographer to the event. According to a Facebook post by Clarissa, the company promised to “refund the entirety of our money and give us the footage this new videographer was going to capture for FREE.”
By that time, even though the wedding was winding down, the brides went about recreating some of their big day. But, as Clarissa explained, it felt “fake” to the couple.
Fortunately, the couple’s photographer was able to capture the joyous moments via still photography.
The Templetons reached out to Tolman Media following the wedding requesting the previously mentioned refund, but it wasn’t until Clarissa posted her story to Facebook that she heard back from Tolman. At that point, Tolman Media issued a full refund and said the videographer was no longer employed by the company.
Ben Hillyard, president of Tolman Media, also issued a statement saying, “We at Tolman Media hold discrimination and discriminatory behavior as a very serious offense against individuals. We do not tolerate it within our organization.”
“Tolman Media is not this videographer,” added Hillyard. “The opinions and beliefs of this videographer do not represent our beliefs or our track record in any way shape or form.”
Hillyard also told Insider that moving forward he will ensure all branches are “fully aware” of the company’s nondiscrimination policy. And – future contractors will be required to be transparent about being available to work on same-sex weddings. And if they refuse, the company will not work with them.
Two weeks after the wedding, the Templetons received an email from Curl.
“On April 3, I did something that I have never done, nor ever had to do before,” wrote the videographer as reported by the News Observer. “Because of my faith and what I support, I made the decision to leave and not film Clarissa and Teegan’s wedding day.”
He added that he knew abandoning his assignment “would have severe consequences” and that his unannounced departure “ruined a beautiful wedding and left so many heart broken (sic).”
While Curl did apologize to the couple, he added, “This destroys me that I’ve ended up in a position where I am getting so many people saying so many negative things about me, my life, my career, and my beliefs.”
At the end of the day, the couple who did everything they thought possible to avoid such LGBTQ discrimination on their wedding day say they hope others don’t have to have the same experience.
“The last thing we would ever want is for anyone to go through this again,” Clarissa explained to Insider. “It is our wish to do everything we can to ensure that no other couple has to endure the heartache we are left trying to cope with. What happened to us isn’t rare.”