Some of Tolman Media’s branches, or franchises, have survived the wedding giant’s epic collapse earlier this year. While Brennan Tolman himself appears as though he has tried to vanish, some of the businesses he oversaw persist under new names, but with familiar staff and reports of the same problems.
Reports That the Former Tolman Media is Operating Under New Names
In the months following PetaPixel’s coverage of the abrupt end of Tolman Media, a massive wedding photography and videography operation that sold services in all 50 states and Canada, reports have arrived that alleged that purported new wedding companies are just Tolman Media flying under a new flag.
I have spent many hours in the past week scouring every available resource and putting numerous wedding companies under a microscope.
At this point, allegations that Brennan Tolman, the disgraced founder of Tolman Media, is involved with any of the Tolman Media zombie companies are unfounded. While it is impossible to prove that Brennan Tolman is not engaged with these new companies, I found no evidence to suggest that he is.
However, Tolman’s namesake, Tolman Media, is still connected to various companies. Some of them are owned and operated by people who held prominent positions within the Tolman Media empire in Utah, where Tolman Media got its start and ultimately met its end.
Perhaps most importantly, there is reason to believe that at least one of these businesses, The Media Aisle, may not involve Tolman himself, but is falling victim to some of the same issues that ultimately sank the Tolman Media wedding empire.
As for Tolman, he appears as though he has tried to vanish, going so far as to have his information wiped from popular background check websites. However, like a moth is drawn to light, someone like Tolman cannot resist financial opportunities, and he has popped up again.
Is Tolman Media Still Alive?
PetaPixel has received reports suggesting that some wedding photo and video companies are just Tolman Media with a new name.
This allegation can be understood to mean a couple of different things.
One way to approach that claim is to believe that Brennan Tolman is pulling the strings of various now non-Tolman Media companies, like some puppet master.
For anyone holding onto this idea, I have found no evidence to back it up.
A less conspiratorial interpretation of the Tolman-adjacent wedding companies, one that maintains that there are companies active today that were once Tolman Media companies, is accurate. PetaPixel has seen emails sent to former Tolman Media photographers that explains the company is now The Media Aisle.
There is also the completely justified concern that even if Tolman Media branches have new logos and names, they may be committing some of the same misdeeds as certain Tolman Media branches did while under the Tolman Media name.
Tolman Media Rebranded: Back from the Dead or Never Gone at All?
The company that instigated this investigation is The Media Aisle. It is a wedding photo and video company whose website has a very Tolman Media-esque look. Despite having a familiar presentation, the company has tried quite hard to distance itself from Tolman Media, and understandably so.
As The Media Aisle tells PetaPixel, it was a Tolman Media franchise but has nothing to do with Brennan Tolman. While I have reason to question some aspects of the company’s operations and how it conducts business, I do not doubt its distance from Brennan Tolman himself.
The Media Aisle’s move away from Tolman Media branding started before Tolman’s downfall. Last autumn, PetaPixel received an email outlining that Tolman Media Weddings, a branch of Tolman Media that included operations in five states — Illinois, Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Georgia — was rebranding to The Media Aisle.
The Media Aisle, LLC was incorporated in American Fork, Utah on October 24, 2022, less than three months before Tolman Media imploded.
The email PetaPixel saw about Tolman Media Weddings rebranding to The Media Aisle was sent to a photographer from a Tolman Media employee named Heidi, who is the Heidi that is listed as the owner of The Media Aisle on its website.
It is worth reiterating here that from an outsider’s perspective, all Tolman Media-branded operations may appear the same, but that is not how people who were involved see it. The Media Aisle is adamant that it had nothing to do with Tolman Media headquarters, for lack of a better term, and was instead operating a branch of Tolman Media that just happened to be nearby Tolman Media Empire’s headquarters.
For Brennan Tolman’s part, he referred to an office building in numerous interviews. “I’m also proud to say that the main staff (including upper management) of Tolman Media is mostly comprised of women, most of which are stay-at-home moms. We offer twice-a-week child care in our office so stay-at-home parents can drop off their kids and come collaborate with their coworkers. Many of our stay-at-home parent employees didn’t think that they would be able to have a good work-life balance after having kids, and I’m proud that they are able to do that at Tolman Media,” Tolman said in December 2022.
PetaPixel has found only one individual who definitely worked there. It remains very unclear who Tolman Media’s “main staff” was if not the various Tolman Media franchise owners who all lived and worked practically down the street from Tolman Media Empire.
As for Tolman Media Weddings LLC, although Tolman Media Weddings LLC businesses are inactive in Illinois and Missouri, Tolman Media Weddings LLC in Texas remains active. All three businesses have been registered to Lindsey Parker and in some cases, also her husband Forrest Parker.
Lindsey Parker has not left the industry. Instead, Parker is at the helm of Ivory Grove LLC, which operates in Texas and Missouri and uses the former accounts of Tolman Media Houston and Tolman Media Missouri, respectively.
“Our independent business used to carry the Tolman Media name because we were a licensee of Tolman Media. These social media pages and wedding vendor websites were set up when we operated under the names of Tolman Media Missouri and Tolman Media Houston. They always represented our business and when we formally separated from Tolman Media and became Ivory Grove, those social media pages remained ours,” Lindsey Parker tells PetaPixel in an email.
By the way, Lindsey Parker does not appear to be associated with The Media Aisle. Day says that she knows Parker and has known her to be a “good person.” Day explains that she cannot speak to the character of other Tolman Media branch operators.
Speaking of shared accounts, The Media Aisle still uses Tolman Media’s old accounts on popular wedding vendor websites such as The Knot and Wedding Wire. It hosts its operations on a renamed Tolman Media Instagram profile.
This makes perfect sense given that The Media Aisle began its rebranding effort last autumn.
Concerning this rebranding effort, The Media Aisle tells PetaPixel that “The way Tolman had their licensing agreement set up, the rights to media was owned by the company (Tolman Media) and the licensee that fulfilled the wedding. By obtaining a licensing agreement with Tolman Media you could then gain access to any photo/video within the Tolman brand. We obtained a lawyer and reached out to Brennan’s lawyer for our exit. We did not deal with Brennan, although he did send some emails and we had to ask his lawyer to ask him to refrain from doing that. Other than that, no dealings.”
The Media Aisle also reiterated, multiple times, that Brennan Tolman is not involved with its operation. Day also says that she “never worked directly for Tolman.”
This deep dive into The Media Aisle was set into motion following a complaint from a photographer that they had not been paid by The Media Aisle. This complaint was very common across numerous Tolman Media branches.
There are also many complaints against The Media Aisle from customers, alleging many of the issues that plagued The Media Aisle in its former form as Tolman Media Weddings. Below are just a sample of the negative reviews against The Media Aisle that are available on The Knot.
A common theme throughout the negative reviews is poor communication. While PetaPixel was able to reach The Media Aisle via Instagram, the company’s own website does not have a usable contact form, does not offer people a phone number, and does not include an email address. The only way to send a message to the company through its business website is to already have a customer account with login information.
There are positive reviews too, including many compliments for the local photographers and videographers hired by The Media Aisle. Day explains that The Media Aisle’s local connection comes through its contractors, which are always local to the clients.
Customer reviews on Wedding Wire are much more positive overall, although some of the same complaints exist there, too. These reviews include claims that The Media Aisle is the same as Tolman Media. Again, that is only partially true.
There is a Through-Line Between Tolman Media and Numerous ‘New’ Wedding Photo and Video Companies
Alongside shared online accounts, The Media Aisle is also operated by someone who was very much involved with Tolman Media Weddings, LLC: Heidi. However, there is no record that either Heidi or her husband owned any Tolman Media branches. And Day maintains that she never worked for Tolman Media’s parent company.
As for Ivory Grove, the situation is a bit murkier. As I’ve outlined, Ivory Grove’s owner, Lindsey Parker, did own Tolman Media companies, and the listing for one of them, Tolman Media Weddings, LLC in Texas, is still active for some reason.
“We did own two Tolman Media licenses (Missouri and Houston). We operated these two areas under the legal name Tolman Media Weddings, LLC. Tolman Media Weddings, LLC was not the parent company of Tolman Media,” Parker explains. “In November of 2022, we legally separated from Tolman Media and became Ivory Grove, LLC.”
Further, Tolman Media’s former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Alice Ferrell, works for Parker at Ivory Grove. Parker herself held the title of “Area Manager” for over three years at Tolman Media.
What makes it challenging to determine who, if anyone, actually worked for Tolman Media’s parent company is that there is really no obvious differentiation between Tolman Media Empire and Tolman Media branches from an outsider’s perspective looking at people’s employment history, LinkedIn pages, and social media profiles.
Ferrell definitely did work for Brennan Tolman himself. Parker tells PetaPixel that Alice Ferrell worked for Brennan Tolman directly in a finance role for Tolman Media Empire and Tolman Media’s headquarters. “In 2022, she began to disagree with the direction Brennan was taking the two companies. She did all she could to help things, but when the direction didn’t change, she resigned from Tolman Media Empire and then Tolman Media HQ a couple of months later. At that point, she began working for an entirely different company.”
Parker explains that as she soon as her and her husband detached from Tolman Media, they reached out to Ferrell and asked her if she would like to work for Ivory Grove. “She accepted the new position and has been absolutely phenomenal. Together we are very fiscally conservative and she does an amazing job of taking good care of all of our photographers and videographers. She has a personal relationship with each of them and continues our vision of treating others as we would want to be treated. Ask any of our photographers and videographers, and they love Alice!”
Like The Media Aisle, Ivory Grove was adamant that it has nothing to do with Brennan Tolman.
“Brennan Tolman is not involved in any way, shape, or form with Ivory Grove,” Parker tells PetaPixel.
While Tolman Media Weddings’ social accounts seem to now fall under the purview of The Media Aisle despite Tolman Media Weddings’ owner Lindsey Parker still operating a wedding photo and video company, the account Parker’s Ivory Grove operation in Texas uses was once that of Tolman Media Houston, which is listed as the active trading name for Tolman Media Weddings LLC in Texas.
Tolman Media Houston is also registered to a “Registered Agents Inc.” operation in Austin, Texas. The same address used for Tolman Media Weddings LLC in Texas is also used with a separate company, Joy Photo and Video LLC, registered to John R. Leonard.
Before considering Joy Photo and Video, what is Registered Agents Inc.? A registered agent service, like those offered by Registered Agents Inc., allows individuals to register a company with a physical address in a state where they do not have an address. File this information away for a moment.
Joy Photo and Video LLC has inactive business registrations in multiple states, including Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. It maintains an active listing within Texas, Florida, and California.
Interestingly, Joy Photo and Video LLC acted under the trading name Tolman Media Houston LLC within Texas for a spell in 2020. Parker’s company, Tolman Media Weddings LLC, began using Toman Media Houston as a trading name starting in September 2021.
Tolman Media Houston’s social media profiles are now operated by Ivory Grove in Texas. Aside from both having used the same trading name at different times and using the same registered agent service in Austin, there is no apparent connection between Leonard and Parker. They are not listed on any of the same individual business registrations.
Leonard’s Joy Photo and Video LLC businesses are registered to him and Registered Agents, Inc. It appears that Leonard resides in Texas, but he still uses the Registered Agents Inc. address for his business in Texas. Leonard also appears as the registrar for Tolman Media Los Angeles North LLC, albeit with his middle initial omitted.
The Utah Connection
As mentioned, one reason someone might register a company in their name but use the address of a registered agent service is that they need a physical address within the state where they wish to do business.
That is not especially unusual in and of itself — consider The Media Aisle. The company does business with clients in five states, so it would be odd if the owner had an address to register the company within all five states. That said, in The Media Aisle’s case, it is only registered in Utah anyway.
Utah comes up a lot. It should be clearly stated that there is nothing wrong with Utah.
That said, it is odd that multiple wedding companies pitching services in states throughout the country and showing up in listings for wedding photographers in Illinois, Missouri, Texas, etc., are owned and operated in Utah.
It is noteworthy that when checking websites for companies like The Media Aisle and Ivory Grove, there is no indication that the companies do not exist in any real way within the states they claim to serve. In fact, there is often evidence to suggest otherwise.
The sites list their owners — in the form of a first name and photos — and when a phone number is available, it has an area code that makes sense for the state where the company sells its services.
However, the people in charge are outside Illinois, Missouri, or Texas. They are in Utah. It is never mentioned in biographies or “About Us” information that prospective clients are hiring someone who does not live where it seems like they live.
When planning the perfect wedding, people generally want to deal with someone who lives in their area, so I can understand the smoke and mirrors. Complete transparency would likely result in fewer clients.
The Media Aisle says that it does not keep its Utah base of operations a secret from its customers.
“I cannot say if every client knows that we were not [local to their area],” The Media Aisle tells PetaPixel, adding that it has told some of its clients of its location.
Another example is Kathryn Pyne, who took over as Event Manager of Tolman Media Ocean Bay in September 2022. The move wrested control of the Boston market from Tolman Media Boston, which Tolman Media’s public relations director, Ashley Tew, claimed had been underperforming.
Like so many others, Pyne was not based in the region she was servicing but was in Utah. Pyne now works at Sweet Haven Productions, a wedding vendor that allegedly operates out of Chicago but, shocker, is registered in Utah.
I asked Parker about operating a wedding business remotely from out of state.
“We own Ivory Grove and we live in Utah. We purchased the Missouri and Houston areas (licenses) because they were the best ones when we started our business,” Parker explains. “The photographers and videographers on our team are all local to the areas they serve in the Midwest and Texas.”
Given that I had to sleuth out the identities and locations of the people operating some of these wedding photo and video companies, including poring over government business entity databases, these companies appear as though they have something to hide. My hackles are raised if I need to dig for basic details about a company, like its location.
In writing this story, I asked multiple people if they were looking for a wedding photographer in their area and a company popped up in search results, claiming to work in that area and never outright saying otherwise, would they feel misled to find out that the company they had been working with did not exist in their area? Every person said that yes, they would feel deceived. All but one of these people was unfamiliar with Tolman Media.
This way of operating is not unique to the rebranded wedding companies — this is how most Tolman Media branches have historically operated. With few exceptions, all Tolman Media branches trace back to operations in Utah.
Consider Timeless Media, LLC. It used to be Tolman Media Bridal Veil Weddings. Now Timeless Media LLC, which operates as Timeless Photo + Video, sells its services in the Washington D.C. metro area.
Timeless Photo + Video still uses Tolman Media’s social accounts. Specifically, Timeless Photo + Video uses what once was Tolman Media DMV’s accounts. Timeless Photo + Video is registered to Bradley Hanson in Highland, Utah.
Did Tolman Media Actually Dissolve?
When Tolman Media abruptly shut down earlier this year, it was widely reported that the company did, in fact, shut down. Further, it was reported that Tolman Media had “gone bankrupt.”
I have been unable to find any record of bankruptcy filings.
I have, however, found active listings for Tolman Media companies registered to Brennan Tolman. One such example is Tolman Media Empire, LLC in Nevada.
This company is registered as a branch of Tolman Media Empire, LLC in Utah, which has expired as of June 12, 2023, and its resignation was filed on February 17, 2023.
As for Tolman Media Empire, LLC in Nevada, the officers include Brennan Tolman, Chelsea Kemp, and Michael Miller. Kemp and Miller have addresses in Utah, while Tolman uses his Nevada home as his address. In March, PetaPixel reported that Tolman had disappeared to a home in Nevada. He purchased the home in mid-2022 according to transaction records.
The registered agent is not Tolman himself but Taipei Investments, LLC, which has the same address as Tolman’s Nevada home. Taipei Investments, LLC is a company that seemingly does not actually do anything and is registered to Tolman and Jie En Chang, Tolman’s wife.
Taipei Investments, LLC has a registered branch in Hawaii, although this branch, incorporated in 2021, does not involve Jie En Chang. The State of Hawaii also considers the business not in good standing due to delinquent filing.
The primary point here is that Tolman Media Empire, LLC has not disappeared entirely as the public was led to believe. While some registrations have lapsed, expired, or been outright terminated, not all are inactive.
Again, there is no reason to believe that Tolman Media Empire, LLC has anything to do with the Tolman Media branches that have rebranded and continue to operate.
The Tolman Media Empire, LLC in Nevada is due to submit an annual report by the end of the month. It remains to be seen if that will occur, although I look forward to finding out.
IOU Financial provided a loan of $250,000 to Brennan Tolman, Jie En Chang, and Tolman Media on December 6, 2022, for commercial business operations. As of February 27, 2023, IOU claims Tolman Media Empire, LLC defaulted on the loan.
At that time, due to interest and other fees, Tolman Media Empire, LLC owed just over $252,000. Assuming continued failure to pay, that amount has only increased.
Introducing Vitamin B
During this investigation, I found Brennan Tolman. While recognizable by his physical appearance, voice, and how he generally carries himself on the internet, he no longer goes by Brennan Tolman.
Tolman instead goes by Vitamin B and calls himself a celebrity videographer. He also claims to be co-owner of Aloha Amplified Creative Media Agency, a company, like others Tolman has been associated with, that does not seemingly do much.
Tolman, or Vitamin B, seems to focus on paid collaborations, although there is evidence of some wedding photo and video work, too. He markets himself as providing storytelling through advertisements.
If there is any doubt as to the identity of Vitamin B, Tolman, for some reason, used an identical photo on Instagram as was featured in a puff piece interview he did last December as himself.
Even stranger is that Vitamin B follows another Vitamin B page, @vitaminbtolman, which is Tolman’s old Instagram account from many years ago. On that page, Tolman linked to a now-defunct Tolman Media company website. I have no idea why Tolman of today would follow one of his old accounts.
Vitamin B is very active on Instagram. IOU Financial may be interested in Tolman’s newest post, which he shared on August 21.
Tolman claims that all his bills are paid. Given the outstanding debt in Georgia, something tells me that might be misleading, at best.
This investigation started because a photographer claimed that The Media Aisle stiffed them and was just Tolman Media with a new name.
The Media Aisle says, “Weddings are so important. We do have a lot of happy couples!! I have learned that I can’t please everyone but I can do my best and fulfill these Tolman weddings to the best of my ability. Returning quality media to my customers and paying my contractors for their time and their commitment to us is of utmost importance! Again, that doesn’t mean everyone is happy, but I am doing my best!”
Focusing only on reviews from late 2022 and early 2023, following the company’s move away from Tolman Media branding, reveals plenty of bad experiences. There are also good ones.
As for the second claim, is The Media Aisle just Tolman Media? No.
That said, there are fewer degrees of separation between The Media Aisle and Tolman Media than the average client may hope for. Perhaps most damningly, there is evidence that there is minimal or no separation in how some photographers and customers feel about their interaction with Tolman Media versus The Media Aisle.
The company has a new name, a new logo, a new website, and some “new” people listed as owners, but the problems that ultimately sank Tolman’s empire-like fleet of Utah-based ships that moored throughout the country did not follow Tolman out the door — they survive, at least in part, under a different name.
Is This a ‘Ship of Theseus’ Situation?
First mentioned by the ancient philosopher Plutarch, and later made famous by Thomas Hobbes, the popular “ship of Theseus” paradox underlies many critical analyses of identity in metaphysics.
At a basic level, one version of the paradox goes like this: Suppose there is a ship. Over time, a plank on the ship rots and is replaced with a new plank. Then another rotting plank is replaced. And another. Eventually, all the planks that comprised that ship have been replaced. Is it still the same ship?
To allege that Tolman Media and its branches are the same companies with new names requires people to carefully consider precisely what made those branches what they were in the first place.
What matters in identity? Is it the name, Tolman Media? If so, then The Media Aisle and Ivory Grove, among others, are different.
If the true essence of Tolman Media was not Brennan Tolman himself, but the people who ran the franchises that he oversaw, then those same people are still operating businesses with different names.
I propose that what made Tolman Media so risky for photographers, videographers, and couples was never Brennan Tolman but the way in which some individual Tolman Media branches operated. The patterns of poor communication, misleading business websites, and the very people involved have persisted in multiple cases.
That said, the good business practices of some Tolman Media branches have persisted under new names, too. Not every franchise committed the same wrongdoings to the same extent.
Perhaps the ship of Theseus paradox should have been focused more on the crew of the ship and less on the ship’s construction, as the crew are the ones who determine the safety of all those aboard. Some of the previous crew have new ships, or at least new planks, but that doesn’t change the risk of getting onboard.
Practical Guidance for Wedding Photography
As is always the case, people should do significant research before forking over thousands of dollars to anyone, especially a business you are trusting to care for you on your big day.
More importantly, people should not leave something as important as hiring a photographer to the lowest bidder. That lowest bidder may not be anywhere near as close to you as you think in more ways than one.
Some people are clearly happy with The Media Aisle, Ivory Grove, Timeless Photo + Video, and others.
Ivory Grove’s reviews on The Knot are especially impressive.
If customer photos and social media accounts are to be believed, these companies regularly hire talented photographers, even in cases where customers have issues with communication. Of course, if a customer struggles to reach someone at a company like The Media Aisle, a photographer may, as PetaPixel has been told, have problems, too.
Nearly everyone knows someone who has been married in recent years. Ask them for recommendations. Find someone local yourself, meet them, and make sure you feel comfortable with every part of the process. If a company makes finding some fundamental information about them into a wild goose chase, that should give you pause.
As for Brennan Tolman, he has somehow seemingly escaped relatively unscathed. While being sued, he seems to be keeping busy with his new life as Vitamin B. Then again, appearances can be misleading.
As far as I can tell, Tolman never went bankrupt, which has made it even more challenging for the many people who feel that he and Tolman Media screwed them over to seek legal recompense.
Ultimately, there are a lot of twisty roads in the Tolman Media saga, and almost all of them lead back to Utah.
Update: Added additional quotes from a representative from The Media Aisle. Added more information concerning Alice Ferrell, now of Ivory Grove, and how she left Tolman Media headquarters before its collapse. Ivory Grove provided additional quotes concerning its relationship with photographers and videographers.