Canadian Bride Fined $115,000 After Online Hate Campaign Against Wedding Photographer

Canadian Bride Fined $115,000 After Online Hate Campaign Against Wedding Photographer

A Canadian newlywed has been ordered to fork out $115,000 in damages after it was ruled she slandered her wedding photographer online.

The internet attack, which went on for almost a year, was orchestrated by bride Emily Liao, in an effort to discredit the wedding services of photography company Amara Wedding.

The owners of the company were forced to close their business in January 2017 after suffering great financial loss as a direct result of Liao’s online campaign. Court documents report she claimed Amara Wedding was guilty of a "bait and switch scam," "dirty tactics," and "lying to consumers."

The saga began after Liao was dissatisfied with pre-wedding photographs, taken by a freelancer working for Amara Wedding, resulting in she and her now-husband halting payments to the company. Regardless, the company provided hair, makeup, photography, and other services on the day.

Afterward, the couple was told that if the remaining balance was not paid, the photos would not be processed. They refused to pay, and took Kitty Chan, owner of Amara Wedding, to the small claims court. Chan counterclaimed and won – but by this stage, Liao’s online campaign had already had a negative effect on business.

After losing the court battle, Liao posted apologies to social media. Unfortunately for Amara Wedding, it was too little too late. Owner Chan said:

What I have lost has already gone, so I don't think anything can compensate that. I want to prove to people that they have to face any consequences when they say something on the internet.

Lead image credit: Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

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This is the unpopular opinion but I am on the side of the Bride. Some sketchy stuff is going on here.

When you hire a wedding photographer you expect the person you hire to take the pictures, after all that’s why you hired them. I would be pissed if I hired a pro and were sent an amateur to increase profit margins.

I don’t care if it wasn’t explicitly stated in the contract, you bet your ass it wasn’t explicitly stated that the photographer would send a freelancer to cover the wedding.

Pedro Pulido's picture

so because the company missed out on sending the the owners as photographers you won't pay for hair, makeup and everything else? wow....

It’s kind of like this, if I hire Peter Lik to make me a fake photo, I want him to go out take the images and photoshop them in post.

If he just grabbed any image off deviantart I would be pissed even though the outcome would be exactly the same.

mark mil's picture

Apparently the bride was aware of the sub-contractor.

Mark Van Noy's picture

Even if they had not been aware of the sub-contractor, the reasonable thing to do would have been to find a new photographer after the engagement photos came back and the bride and groom did not like them. Just part ways and be done with it. This did not need to escalate.

Kawika Lopez's picture

I don't think theres enough information in this article alone to decide weather one party or another was justified.

1. Was there an attempt on the companyʻs side to compensate for the dissatisfaction before the bride went down the path of irreparable online vilification?
2. If so, was it a reasonable offering?
3. If the couple was so dissatisfied with the pre-wedding photos, did they voice their concerns to the company before the day of?
4. Was the freelancer a recurring sub-contractor that works with the company often or was he a one-off?

To your point of sending a freelancer. As a creative, I subcontract reliable freelancer colleagues all the time. People I know and have confidence in. It is extremely common and It never has anything to do with increasing profit margins.

In fact, hiring a freelancer decrease my profit margin since I now have to pay for another shooter. What it does allow me to do though, is monitor and manage the project on a higher level so that I can do my best to ensure that the overall product is of good quality.

It sounds like this was a larger production with hair, makeup, and photography all being provided by a single entity. If I do all the work myself, yes, I get to keep the entire billing amount, but how practical or sustainable is that? You have to build a team and step into a producer roll in order to increase the quality of your product, especially in larger productions. Chances are, the company is making less money per gig after it pays out the hair, makeup, and photography team, but because it is sustainable, they are able to make up for it by quantity of work.

Its unclear if this is actually the case with Amara Weddings, but its a very common reason why a freelancer could have been used.

Jacques Cornell's picture

The article states that Amara Wedding sent a FREELANCER. Why are you implying that they didn't send a PRO? Freelancers aren't pros? Wha???

Jim Bolen's picture

Exactly. The freelancer, for all we know, could be one hell of a photographer.

I'm in the industry in the same part of town, I've seen the work they produce. Amara might not be a top studio, but their standard is fairly high. Freelancer doesn't mean they are bad. Their reputation is pretty decent before all this happened.

Jen Photographs's picture

There are legal ways to deal with unsatisfactory services.

Defaming and libeling a business to the point where it can't bring in new revenue is not one of them.

I'm from the part of town of this case, the wedding studio is a commercial wedding studio operated under the studio name, not any particular photographer. And in Chinese weddings which is their main market in this part of town, it is never one photographer and a 2nd shooter, it is two photographers, sometimes you have no idea who'll be your photographer until the wedding day. That's just the general culture and business model many of these commercial wedding studio operated. Nothing sketchy about it.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Right. I know a SUPERB wedding photographer who has shot for a big wedding photo company that uses probably ten "freelancers". I put "freelancers" in quotes because the partnership is quite close between the company and the photogs. They have training and guidelines to maintain consistency and quality, and the work they produce is high-caliber.

Leigh Miller's picture

Saw this a few days's just wacko. The world is upside down right now.

Chad D's picture

ditto not enough info and two sides
I got out of weddings a few years ago almost 15 years doing them for good reason people are not the same and people want to pick on someone at some point for some twisted reason

how any one bride can sink a biz sounds like the biz was not strong enough and why no previous clients that were happy coming into defense
kinda sounds like two wack jobs finally met and this is the result :)

the old saying it takes two :)

if some of you are not old enough this would be a awesome Gary Larson cartoon of bride and photographer wackos meeting :)

Jacques Cornell's picture

It doesn't "take two". It just takes one bully.

Google the bride's name and read some of the articles. This one gives some interesting details:

Most notable, the judge found that she failed to prove the statements were true. “Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming that none of them were true.”

It's an interesting read that fills in many of the gaps on this story. In short, two courts - small claims and this court - both ruled fully on the side of the photographers. In fact, the judgement here resulted in 3 types of penalties:

"Weatherill awarded Chan $75,000 in general damages and found Liao’s 'high-handed or oppressive' conduct merited aggravated damages of $15,000 and $25,000 in punitive damages for what he calls “persistent malice” towards Chan."

So, while a customer may be unsatisfied, a person can go too far.

mark mil's picture

If anyone is interested, the decision can be found at

It certainly doesn't paint either party in the best light. If you happen to be aware of the wedding industry in Canada, particularly BC and southern Ontario, the type of outfit that was the brunt of the complaints is little more than a factory pretending to be a very personalized service (at least based on what I've read). I certainly understand someone being upset. That being said, I'm very impressed that photographers went forward with the wedding coverage despite the stop payments. That's GREAT service.

I'd love to learn more about the interaction between the parties after the wedding. The bride most certainly seems to have gone a little far. And, if the the damages are quantifiable, she seems to have gone about $155K too far.


What's the big deal about sending someone else to photograph? It's a common practice where I'm from. One photographer can't be at 2 (or more) locations at the same time, and sometimes you have enough people booking you and you end up with several weddings at the same time. If the photographer himself is busy that day with another client, it's okay for him to send someone to photograph for him. That someone may be a freelancer or someone working for him, but if he's working for him you know that they expect the same standard of quality, they'll get the same editing coming from the same person. If you want the owner to come photograph himself then ask for him specifically.

Jen Photographs's picture

I read somewhere (but haven't confirmed) that the owner of Amara isn't even a photographer. Which makes this client's demands even more bizarre.

Timothy Turner's picture

I have what some may call a controversial strategy toward weddings and portraits. I charge nothing up front and the client only pays for those photos they want. This also eliminates the messy situation if a client cancells, I don't have to bother with refunds etc. Some say I'm crazy but it works for me, although I don't have any wedding / portrait examples on my page this policy works very well.