Planning A Wedding… Safely

wedding planning tips

Consumers don’t always have a lot of options when it comes to righting wrongs perpetrated by scammy, shady shopkeeps and service providers, so the best thing a person can do is take steps to protect him or herself from fraud before it happens. That goes double for brides and grooms, who in addition to spending gobs of money, are often dealing with leads times and options unlike any they’ve encountered in the past. I’m not saying that brides and grooms are all widdle biddy babies who need hand holding, but let’s face facts here. It’s easy to get starry-eyed when it’s planning a wedding we’re talking about, and the bad guys typically prey on people who aren’t paying attention.

The good news is that it’s not that difficult to protect yourself from the sort of unscrupulous wedding vendors who want to get between you and your wedding budget while doing as little work as possible. Unsurprisingly, the Better Business Bureau has some tips for planning a wedding safely. Here’s a snippet of the BBB-endorsed wedding planning tips that can help brides and grooms keep from losing money before or after the wedding, ending up with a sucky ceremony or reception, and maybe most importantly, choosing the wrong wedding vendors.

Pay With Credit Cards: Credit cards offer consumers added protection in the event of a problem, because you can generally have your card issuer “pull back” the charge and investigate any problems within 60 days of receiving your statement, even if you have already paid the charge. In some cases, they may extend you a longer “dispute” period. Unfortunately, checks or cash offer no such protection.

Get Contracts in Writing: Remember that all written contracts should include specific dates, products, prices, name brands, and be signed by all parties involved. Cancellation policies should also be included in the contracts. This includes any refund policies and returns on deposits. If these are not already included in the contract, insist that they are added before you sign. New York state law allows businesses to set whatever refund or cancellation policy they desire. Do not assume that if you cancel a contract, you will receive a 100% refund. Be sure that you are aware of refund or cancellation policies before you sign a contract and that the terms are completely spelled out in the written contract. Also, try to keep deposits as small as possible as they are often non-refundable. Smaller deposits may mean less money lost if there is a change in plans.

Don’t Be Lured By the Lowest Price: Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event, so you want to do it right. Be careful not to hire unknown companies simply because they advertise the lowest prices. First, research the company’s quality and reliability record.

Research A Company Before Using It: There are three simple ways to find a good company: 1) Ask friends for the names of companies that they have used with good results. 2) Ask for references. Any legitimate company will be pleased to provide previously satisfied clients. However, do not stop there. Follow through and actually call the clients to find out it they were satisfied and if they may have some suggestions about doing business with that particular company. 3) Lastly, check companies with your local Better Business Bureau before doing business with them. In the event you do have a problem, you can also contact the BBB to file a complaint.

Smart stuff! But also stuff that’s easy to forget when you’ve emotionally invested yourself in wedding planning and have a little money to spend. So be careful out there, brides and grooms. Stay starry-eyed, but keep those eyes peeled for scams. The only thing I’d add to the BBB’s advice is beware of the upsell, for wedding vendors have a knack for it and you may not even realized you’re being talked into something you really don’t want until after you’ve signed a contract. The upsell may not technically be a scam, but it is another sleazy way to part a bride and her bucks.

(Photo by Fotographix)

5 Responses to “Planning A Wedding… Safely”

  1. Wedding planning is hectic enough without adding more steps for researching vendors, but I agree its essential. Another way to get feedback on a company is online reviews. They often show up right in Google local search. Just search for the type of vendor, and the reviews are right there. Or browse Yelp for vendors in the city where you are, for example: Just be on the look-out for vendors who write their own reviews. It’s usually pretty easy to spot people promoting themselves.

  2. Great tip, Cherie! I’d add that online reviews – I like – can be better than references in a lot of cases. Usually when someone has taken the time to write a negative review, it means they felt strongly enough about their experience to take the time to warn others. One bad review can be a fluke. But multiple bad reviews? I’d say stay away!

  3. Melissa says:

    These are great tips. Most of the time it doesn’t pay to go to the unknown vendor who is underselling everyone because you most likely will not get what you want. If you are on a tight budget don’t discount the local shoppes that will offer you a great product for a reasonable amount.

  4. blossom says:

    Yes always be careful. I almost put a deposit down on this one venue because it had beautiful veiws. But she did not have any menus printed so i thought i’ll be smart and wait till i get a menu in the post before making a decision in case we did not like the food. I waited and waited, the venue even rang to ask when i was putting the deposit down i told them i still had not recived any menus in the mail. I waited some more. Then my mother found out from her friend whose daughter had put a deposit down at that venue, that the venue had gone under.

  5. Melissa B. says:

    Definitely be careful when going with someone unproven! I would suggest that if you choose to hire a vendor who’s new to the business, split your payment into a deposit plus a later payment, instead of paying in full up-front. I hired a new-ish seller on Etsy to design and print our invitations, and she turned out to be a nightmare — ignoring e-mails, missing deadlines, that sort of thing. She ended up getting kicked off Etsy because many of her other customers never even received their orders. I would have given up on her and gone with another printer if I’d only put down a deposit, and saved myself a lot of stress!

    Not all new vendors are bad vendors, obviously — our DOC was amazing, and very affordable because she just started her business — but there’s always a bit of risk going with someone who doesn’t have a proven track record, and it’s good to give yourself an out.