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Man suing photographer wants wedding recreated, despite divorce

Zachary Roth
The Lookout

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Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford appear in "The Way We Were." AP Photo

OK: Filing a lawsuit aimed at forcing your wedding photographer to pay to recreate your wedding so that the last dance and bouquet toss can be captured on film is weird enough, right? But when you've since been divorced, you've got to figure there's something else going on there.

"I need to have the wedding recreated exactly as it was," Todd Remis testified in a deposition, the New York Times reports, "so that the remaining 15 percent of the wedding that was not shot can be shot."

Remis, a former financial analyst from New York City, married Milena Grzibovska in 2003, at a mock-medieval castle in Tarrytown, N.Y.  The couple had paid $4,100 to hire the H & H photography studio in the Bronx to take pictures and video of the ceremony and reception.

But when Remis went back to the studio a month later to look at the proofs, he complained that the photographer had missed the last fifteen minutes of the party, including the last dance and bouquet toss. He said in the deposition that in response, employees at H & H "yelled" at him.

But it wasn't until 2009, a year after he and Grzibovska had separated--amicably, Remis says--that he got around to filing a lawsuit, claiming, among things, "infliction of emotional distress." (Their divorce was finalized in 2010). Aside from not including the last 15 minutes, he charged, the photographs were "unacceptable as to color, lighting, poses, positioning." He also alleged that the video was only two hours long, when he'd expected it would record the whole six hour duration of the wedding.

In addition to getting back his $4,100, Remis wants H & H to pony up $48,000 to fly the wedding's principals back to New York, so that a different photographer can re-shoot it.

Among the problems with this idea: As Curt Fried, H & H's 87-year-old co-founder put it to the Times, "He wants to fly his ex-wife back and he doesn't even know where she lives." Grzibovska is believed to have moved back to Latvia.

Curt Fried and his son Dan, who now runs the studio, say they've already spent $50,000 on legal bills.

But Remis--who said in the deposition he hasn't been working since 2008--says it's important to him to have the photos. "It was unfortunate in its circumstances," he said in the deposition, referring to the separation, "but we are very much happy with the wedding event and we would like to have it documented for eternity, for us and our families."

Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan has dismissed most of the lawsuit--including the infliction-of-emotional-distress claim. But she has allowed Remis's breach-of-contract claim to proceed. Still, in an opinion written in January, she suggested that Remis might be driven as much by personal as by financial concerns.

"This is a case in which it appears that the 'misty watercolor memories' and the 'scattered pictures of the smiles ... left behind' at the wedding were more important than the real thing," Justice Ling-Cohan wrote, quoting from the theme song of the Barbra Streisand movie "The Way We Were." "Although the marriage did not last, plaintiff's fury over the quality of the photographs and video continued on."

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