Planning your wedding will be a stressful event. The last thing you need is to be ripped-off by an unscrupulous wedding vendor or planner. Here are a few tips to help avoid this problem.
Make Your Wedding Arrangements and Bookings As Far In Advance As Possible
Most facilities, vendors, and planners can be booked more than a year in advance. If possible, take advantage of this window of opportunity. Should something go wrong, it will provide you with more time to make alternate arrangements. Also, be aware that some vendors will actually charge you more if you order or book things at the last minute. Always make sure you get it in writing. You want to know exactly what you are paying for. The contract should be specific and include dates, times, locations of where they will be required to deliver goods or provide services.
Shop Around and Deal With Trustworthy People
Before booking anything you should shop around and get an idea of current prices for each category of your wedding. Don't just hire the first caterer or photographer you meet with. Ask around with family, friends, co-workers, etc. and get their recommendations about services they may have used. Most local reputable companies will have a proven track record of quality, this will be obvious by reading reviews on their websites, or where they advertise.
Get Everything in Writing
It would seem obvious to do this, but a lot of couples tend to go on "faith" of what a vendor says, then are shocked with the vendor doesn't follow through. Get everything, down to the smallest detail, in writing and be sure both you and the vendor agree on all points before signing any contract. Understand that the contract is there to protect both you and the vendor. Vendors don't want to be duped anymore than you do. Often contracts may seem like they serve the purpose of the vendor, just make sure they also cover all of the details that you feel are important. Include exact descriptions, such as if you are ordering flowers: how may bouquets, the exact type and color of the flowers, etc. What happens if the florist brings the wrong color of flower or vase? How are these types of issues remedied? Make sure that all your bases are covered, and then some.
Be Aware of The Fine Print
Anytime you sign a contract, especially when you are giving large sums of money, make sure you understand every detail of the contract. If you don't understand something, ask! Most vendors use a standardized contract for each party that books them, and make changes from time to time for specific parties. There may be something in the contract that doesn't pertain to you, maybe it was written for another client. Read any contracts over very carefully. Pay particular attention to their cancellation policy. You want to make sure it includes a provision for a refund of the deposit if you cancel or change your wedding date by a certain time period before your wedding. Of course, reasonably, you would not get a deposit back if you cancelled two days before the wedding. Most vendors I know don't allow the deposit to be refunded at all. Be sure to also include a written statement on the contract that you will not pay for services and will expect a complete refund on any deposits if the company does not deliver exactly as specified in the contract. A reputable company will respect this clause.
Regarding Photographers and DJ's
When booking these services with a company, often you may wish to have a particular photographer/videographer and DJ for your wedding because you have seen their work or heard their play style and really like it. Make sure this is detailed on the contract with the person's name. Again, also include the clause that if that particular person is substituted, you will not pay for the service and will receive a refund on all deposits. It is NOT uncommon for photographers and videography companies to send substitutions. Just make sure that you know in advance. If you like "Mike's" photography style, will he be the one shooting? Or will someone else be there?
This happened at our wedding with the DJ. The one we were told was coming and who knew how our ceremony music was laid out did not show up, and the substitute DJ that showed had no idea how the wedding service was to proceed with the music. There was a mess up with some songs during the ceremony and we had no recourse, as we didn't include that provision in the contract. So be aware of this. Don't pay for a last minute substitute (unless you were thoroughly happy with their service).
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