Wedding Photographer Accused of Pulling ‘Family Emergency’ Scam

A wedding photographer from Kansas stands accused of “scamming” couples and robbing them of memories of their big day by faking a family emergency. She has, allegedly, done this multiple times.

According to KAKE News, Nick and Kirstie Steffen hired Caitlin Payne as the photographer for their wedding in February. The couple had hired her months before after meeting Payne, who runs the business CP Wedding Photography, at a wedding expo.

However, on the day of their wedding, Nick says Payne called him in a panic. Payne told him that her daughter had been in a car crash and that she was not going to be able to shoot their ceremony in the afternoon.

According to a text exchange between Kirstie and Payne seen by KAKE News, the couple told the photographer: “It’s no worries, you need to be there for your daughter.”

Payne sent a backup photographer to shoot the couple’s wedding instead. However, according to the couple, the backup photographer immediately told the couple that he was “inexperienced with weddings” and had only shot one other wedding event before.

Nick and Kirstie allege that the backup photographer delivered poor and dark images of their wedding and they were left devastated. The pair also claim that the backup photographer revealed that he had only paid 25% of the fee they had originally paid to Payne for her services.

However, the couple was even more shocked when they allegedly discovered a post on Facebook that revealed that Payne was not at the hospital with her daughter who she claimed was in a car crash.

In photos supposedly posted on Facebook by the Derby Drama Club on February 18, Payne was seen at her daughter’s musical at Derby High School at the same time as the couple’s wedding.

It also appeared that the photographer had attended a retirement party that she helped to organize after the play.

Not The Only ‘Scammed’ Couple

Nick shared a Facebook post about Payne in the hope of alerting other couples. Nick’s post received hundreds of likes and dozens of people also complained about Payne in response to his post.

Other couples claimed that Payne was either a no-show, left their ceremony early, or did not get their photos in a timely matter — if at all.

In several cases, couples say that Payne also similarly claimed a family member was in a car crash or that there was a family emergency to get out of shooting a wedding. In another instance, Payne allegedly left a wedding early after claiming that her mother had died.

The Photographer’s Response

KAKE News reports that Payne declined requests for an interview. The photographer tells the news outlet that she had been the victim of violence over the cases with the couples and she had filed police reports.

“Due to the violence that has occurred from this situation I will be leery about disclosing too much information,” she tells KAKE News.

“We’ve had multiple death threats, someone shows up to my house armed with a gun, and pictures of my underaged daughter manipulated into something sexual. Not to mention an assault.”

However, KAKE News contacted Derby police, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, and The Wichita Police Department. No one had any records of Payne reporting any crime. But in the process, KAKE News did discover that it had previously covered a story about Caitlin Payne, then Caitlin Hershberger, twelve years ago.

In 2011, several couples claimed that she was taking money from them as a wedding planner but then afterward, she would not fulfill her duties.

The Steffens did finally manage to get a full refund from Payne. But through sharing their story, the Steffens are hoping this never happens to another couple ever again.

Image credits: Featured photo licensed via Depositphotos.