Your wedding, the event itself, is one of the most exciting and romantic business transactions you will ever make. Like any business dealings, unfortunately, there are people and companies who are out to take advantage of couples (and vendors). In this episode of Bridechilla, I share some of the more common (and unusual) ways that people have been scammed and tricked out of their money and give you easy ways to protect yourself during your wedding planning and beyond.
It's unlikely that you will come across any of these issues but as always, knowledge is power and being aware is a much better state of mind than ignorance.
Listen To The Episode
Double Check References and Recommendations
As the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true, then it probably is. If a vendor or supplier comes to you with a crazy cheap deal but only if you pay cash or perhaps they won't provide you with any references but can give you a discount of a lifetime, then I strongly suggest you back away.
Trusting your gut will play an important role when finding new vendors—if something doesn't seem right follow, then follow your intuition. Do some extra investigation and figure out why you get those feelings. One of the easiest ways to decide whether to hire a vendor will come from their references and reviews on websites and asking to speak to former clients. If things don't add up, don't be rushed into a decision. Take your time and if in doubt find someone new.
If you can, meet your vendors and suppliers in person.
If they seem unprofessional, or 'off' in any way or even if you don’t vibe with them (especially if they are a vendor that you will be working with a lot) then consider other options.
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography
Pay with Credit Cards where you can
Paper trails are the scammers enemy. It's their kryptonite.
Paying cash may get you deals, but it also leaves you open to not being able to make claims against a vendor or supplier in the worst case scenario of them not going through with their end of the deal.
Using credit cards to pay for your wedding can also help insurance claims and give you some ammunition in disputing charges and seeking a refund if goods and services aren't delivered or aren't what you were expecting.
The Fair Credit Billing Act gives cardholders the right to dispute charges, and usually, get their money back if a retailer or vendor fails to deliver on a paid-for item or service.
If you have a gift table at your venue, where guests can leave cards and gifts, be mindful of where that table is situated and who has access to the area. If your venue is in a place which can be accessed by the general public like some hotels and resorts be mindful of leaving valuable items around (or envelopes of cash).
People are dicks.
Public Social Media Profiles and Wedding Websites
Honeymoon selfies and documenting your adventures is wonderful but be mindful of your privacy settings on Instagram and facebook and sharing information about where you live and when you will be away from your homes. Burglars may target the homes of couples celebrating their nuptials, or away on their honeymoon. They are shitheads. Obviously.
In ye olden days some wily burglars used wedding announcements in newspapers to target people, now wedding web sites can also provide thieves with a timeline of when couples won't be home as well as addresses (from RSVPs).
Photo by Tom The Photographer
This is a risk. I’m going, to be honest. A lot of replica dresses are sub standard and shit.
If you have your eye on an ultra expensive designer dress and cannot warrant paying the price, you may consider a ‘designer inspired dress’ or a replica or a rip-off, but it's risky, and I believe a little morally troubling.
There are thousands of companies out there that will replicate a gown from a photograph or sample for very little money. I’m talking $200-$500. I'm sure you may have seen some the heartbreaking/amusing posts online about the outcomes of these little adventures.
I am not guilt tripping or preaching here but looking at some of the prices of these gowns; I believe we should assume that most of these dresses are made in sweatshop factories. Maybe not by kiddies but probably by people that should be paid more And to be honest even some authentic full prices dresses are made in these factories.
You should ask questions about what you buy and where it comes from. If you only pay $199 for a dress that sells for $5000 (that probably will have none of the features and quality of the $5000 item), then surely we should ask then who is making it and what are they making it out of?
Also replicating designs is against copyright laws and counterfeit goods are illegal and can be impounded by customs, so be warned and beware. Most gowns that are ordered through these companies are produced and shipped from China or Eastern Europe. The online ‘shop front’ generally trades from the USA.
Wedding Insurance can cover, everything from weather, sickness or injury, unavoidable cancellation due to your venue being unavailable to vendor no-show. A wedding insurance policy can also cover cancellation or postponement of the wedding due to reasons such as a change of work circumstances that mean you need to move the wedding. There are limits to returns, but for the peace of mind that having a policy can bring (and the affordability of plans) I certainly think it's worth considering.
Pay Your Vendors Direct
Bridechilla Community member and wedding planning Tyese from Marigold Rose Events shares some excellent advice-
"I frequently hear about wedding planners who take a couple's money to pay a vendor on their behalf and then they disappear with their deposits leaving the couple with no vendors on their wedding day. It is a red flag for me when I hear about planners accepting money and paying vendors on the couple's behalf. I always recommend couples to sign contracts and pay vendors directly and I don't sign contracts for any couples to protect myself as well. A popular celebrity wedding planner was in the news recently and she is being sued by a bride's family for basically going over budget and hitting them with the bill after the fact."