In this economy, rip-offs during any stage of a wedding endanger more than your chances of staying within budget. They can potentially destroy your honeymoon plans and savings. Worse yet, they can even cast a dark shadow over the entire event that leaves you and your partner starting your new life together on an unhappy note.
We know that The Budget Savvy Bride loves to post helpful advice and tips so you don’t have to suffer through a scam, or even worse, end up taking on debt for your big day. So today we’re sharing five scary wedding rip-off scenarios to help prevent them from happening to you:
Designer clothing and jewelry can cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, which is why many criminals attempt to sell cheap counterfeit dresses, artificial gemstones, and other fake attire as the real deal. If possible, buy these types of high-dollar items directly from the designer or an officially approved, certified retailer.
Although you can find plenty of deals online, the truth is that many of these low-cost options may actually be “steals.” Naïve buyers may find themselves receiving poorly made knock-offs, or even failing to receive their ordered items. Some online vendors even use your credit card details to commit identity theft, which then damages your credit score. It’s important to do your due diligence when considering ordering from an online store you’re unfamiliar with.
If you want to buy from a non-approved formal wear vendor, choose a trusted local offline retailer, and use your credit card to create a paper trail of evidence to help you later file a complaint if the clothing or jewelry do not meet the vendor's advertised standards.
Nightmare Wedding Planners
Another unfortunate rip-off involves wedding organizers who have limited experience and perform their services poorly. These nightmare planners can waste your time and money in a wide variety of ways.
From budgeting mistakes, double-booking appointments, forgetting certain arrangements, or failing to confirm that everything is on schedule, there are a multitude of ways that an inexperienced planner can hurt your bottom line. Even worse is a planner that simply takes your down payment and runs. This has been the sad and unfortunate case for many couples over the years.
The best way to prevent these situations is by seeking out word-of-mouth testimonials for local planners from trusted family, friends, coworkers and other vendors. You may be tempted to hire someone based on their low prices, but it’s so important to verify that anyone you book has a proven track record of satisfied customers. Do you really want your wedding day to be the “Guinea Pig” for their business?
Additionally, using your credit card to make your down payment provides you with more legal protection and options if the planner provides poor service or disappears with your money.
Some couples have had the unfortunate situation of paying top dollar for a vendor only to deal with a “no-show.” Beware of faux-tographers who use someone else's work in their portfolio to book unsuspecting clients. These untalented amateurs could either take your money and run, or you could end up with awful, blurry, or badly edited photographs of your special day. To prevent this from happening to you, be sure to ask members of your trusted social circle for referrals to local photographers who have both stellar reputations and portfolios.
When considering each photographer, ask to see complete photo books for several weddings to compare the work and ensure it's consistent quality. Feel free to request additional references from clients for testimonials. To get a feel for a photographer's knowledge and skills, ask questions about his or her preferred equipment and photo-editing software.
Extra Fees and Fine Print
Even if your wedding planning goes off without a hitch, you still might wind up with a vendor that tries to take advantage of couples (and loved ones who have decided to pay for services) in different ways.
For example, a vendor might hide extra fees for complaints or last minute schedule changes in your contract's fine print. Some vendors charge two to three times the amount for wedding services as they do for comparable non-wedding services, or waive certain fees only to charge you more in another area of your contract to make up the difference. Always read the fine print, and shop around and compare prices before you choose each vendor.
It’s hard to believe, but sometimes family and friends that you thought were trustworthy decide that they deserve one of your wedding gifts more than you do. Additionally, uninvited guests occasionally show up at wedding receptions and walk off with gifts. To prevent this theft, assign a member of the wedding party or a staff member at the chosen venue, if applicable, to count the number of gifts and watch the table. To deter thieves, set up the wedding reception gifts table away from exits and near a working security camera.
Because weddings are so often occasions to spend a lot of money, the unfortunate truth is that they tend to attract those looking to take advantage. But with some smart planning and a little awareness, you can avoid these common tricks and scams on your big day, and save yourself time and money along the way!
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.