‘He’s nothing but a liar.’ bride blasts wedding photographer over missing pictures wbma

She says she’s tried to contact Michael Howton repeatedly before calling the I-Team to see if we could get results. "I’m going to get it resolved," promised Howton to us on camera. The Shelton’s paid Howton $300 in advance. Carol Shelton said she considered Howton a friend prior to their fallout.

We tracked Howton down at his home in Oxford. He blames problems on a Virginia lab and now he claims a Montgomery lab is working on the pictures. He asked for more time to get the work done. He offered to throw in extra photos, but the Shelton’s are skeptical they will ever see their pictures.

• Research businesses before hiring them. Before you fall in love with a vendor, check its availability for your wedding date.

Read reviews. Check business profiles on BBB.org. Ask the business ahead of time what their plan is for delivering their product on time. Do they have guarantees? What is guaranteed? Don’t pay the entire fee up front.

• Double-check prices. If you’ve learned about a vendor at a bridal expo or other special event, make sure you ask if prices are the same after the event. Be careful of high-pressure sales tactics to make you commit to a product or service on the spot.

• Unexpected fees. Some caterers, hotels or reception venues try to charge extra for “plate splitting,” “cake-cutting” or “corkage” fees, especially if you bring in a cake or liquor purchased from another source. Ask whether any fees apply beyond the cost per person, gratuities or room rental, if applicable.

• Dresses that don’t measure up. Brides have complained to BBB about bridal shops ordering the wrong sizes and colors of gowns as well as dresses that arrive too late for timely alterations. Make sure your order specifies new merchandise, sized to fit you and your bridesmaids. Remind the shop of your schedule in advance. Click here for more BBB tips on buying a wedding dress.

• Wedding transportation problems. Complaints about limousine service include poor customer service and rigid cancellation policies. Get details in writing. Ask how the company handles problems if you aren’t satisfied and what they will charge if you need the vehicle longer on your wedding night. Don’t pay the entire amount in advance.

• Musician switch. Couples shouldn’t rely on a website, demo tape or phone conversation when hiring a band or other music service. Find out where you can hear the musicians play before you hire them. Ask who will actually perform at the reception and get a written commitment from the band or musician, including the amount of time they will play and costs to extend the time the night of the event.

• Photographer issues. A common complaint is that the photographer doesn’t show up for the wedding or fails to deliver pictures until months after the wedding. Find out when and how pictures will be delivered, whether you will have the option of getting all the images on a DVD or CD, how much time you will have to choose the pictures and whether other members of your family or wedding party will have access to the pictures.

• Floral changes. Fresh flowers are a perishable commodity, and the final bouquet or arrangements may need to change depending on what’s available on the wedding day. Make sure you spell out a minimum size or number of stems in each bouquet or arrangement. Ask how the florist will handle any last-minute substitutions and charges, especially if the value of the flowers actually used is markedly different from what you had agreed upon.

• Bridal gown preservation. Some bridal shops or other businesses sell bridal gown preservation packages, including cleaning and a box, for $250 or more. Many of these packages are no more than regular dry-cleaning and a cardboard box, which may not be acid-free. Check with a reputable cleaner on the cost of cleaning your gown after the wedding. The cleaner or another supplier may be able to sell you an acid-free box and tissue at a more reasonable price.

• Wedding memorabilia. Monogrammed napkins, decorations, swizzle sticks, pens or other souvenirs often are marketed as a way to enhance the event or remember the wedding. Resist the temptation to buy items that may be overpriced, of poor quality or that add needlessly to the total bill.

• The knock-off dress. Some shifty private sellers will tell you it’s a one-of-a-kind Vera Wang, but at a ridiculously low price, it could be a fake and definitely not worth the money you save. Always shop at reputable vendors or the designer’s shop.

• The gift grab. Piling up you wedding loot on a table at the venue looks great, but it also exposes gifts to would be thieves who may be lurking, or even working at the venue (not to mention guests you don’t know very well). It’s always best to request that gifts be purchased through your wedding registry.

• Even service providers get scammed. The wedding photographer scam has been making the rounds. A photographer is hired via email, a check for more than is required is sent and the photographer is asked to forward money to a non-existent event planner via money transfer. The payment bounces and the photographer loses out.