How to Avoid Wedding Scams
How to avoid these horror stories.
The day you wed your beloved is the most important day of your life; and planning for it can be hell even when everything goes right. But for some poor souls, things go very, very wrong when they’re scammed by a money-stealing wedding planner or no-show photographer. Wedding vendor scams are scary, and there are various scams you could fall victim to, but you do have the power to protect yourself.
On the day of her wedding, Courtney got a call from her soon-to-be-hubby James saying that the limo was more than an hour late. After he and his groomsmen found another way to the ceremony, the couple found out that no photographer or videographer had shown up, despite the checks they made to their wedding planner, who had lied when he’d claimed he’d booked the services and was now missing in action. While Courtney’s mother-in-law was able to find someone at the last minute to shoot their wedding, she later learned that the wedding planner had run off with her money and had similarly scammed other couples.
Wedding vendor scams are scary, and there are many common scams you could fall victim to, but you do have the power to protect yourself.
Image hiring a photographer whom you pay a hefty deposit, then, on the day of the event, he isn’t there. You call and call but you can’t reach him. The tears stream down your face as you realize you’ve got nobody to provide evidence that this glorious, expensive day actually happened. Or maybe the photographer shows up and takes pictures and never sends you negatives, prints or digital photos. What’s a big day without a photographic record?
In the interest of saving a few bucks, you decide to order your wedding gown on a legit-looking online boutique. The dress looks great and they say they’ll include the shipping for free. How could this not be a win-win? Well, your dress might not show up on time. Or that beautiful strapless gown shows up and the lace isn’t ivory but more of a cat pee yellow and the seams are glued together instead of sewed. Or you call and try to get a refund because for the dress that never arrived or it took longer to arrive than it took for Mr. Wonderful to come around to the idea of commitment.
In order to protect yourself from any of these misfortunes, or other wedding vendor scams such as price hikes in the last few days before the wedding, you would do well to follow these words of advice:
- Work with vendors that trustworthy friends and family recommend. You’ll likely avoid hiring vendors set on ripping you off if you know someone who hired them and liked the final results. If you decide to work with someone who hasn’t been hired by anyone you know personally, ask the vendor to connect you with former clients so that you can independently verify their credibility.
Work with vendors that trustworthy friends and family recommend.
- Try to hire vendors that have physical offices because then you know where to go if things go south.
- Pay using credit card (AMEX preferably, because they have better consumer protection), never cash or check, so you can do a charge-back if needed.
- Check their ratings on websites like Yelp and Epinions, Google the business owner’s name and the business name with the words “complaint” and “scam” and check the vendor’s business license with state entities.
- If you hire a wedding planner, demand copies of receipts for every check you cut – even for the bulk candy you want for that candy bar. Experts also suggest you pay with your credit card because if you do get scammed, you can file a grievance with your credit card company and in at least most cases, get a refund.
- For a chunk of change, you can purchase wedding insurance from companies like The Travelers Indemnity Company. Travelers wedding insurance starts at $160, while there are a few online companies offering such coverage for about $95, but we suggest you stick with a reputable insurance agency like Travelers. Wedding insurance covers such things as cancellation or postponement of the ceremony, additional expenses, wedding photographs and video, wedding gifts, special jewelry and lost deposits. For additional coverage, you can add liability and liquor liability to your policy.
- Make sure you ask if there are any other costs that could possibly be added to the final bill at a later time.
- And finally, make sure you always read every single word of every contract you sign. Ask for contract changes if you’re not 100% comfortable. Don’t let them talk you into signing something that’s not in your favor. Remember: you can always walk away and hire someone else.
Above all, remember: if something doesn’t feel right, leave and find a different vendor. Oh yes, and try to have fun with it!
Want more? Check out our tips on How To Avoid Wedding Day Disaster