7 Tips To Avoid Wedding Vendor Scams
List Of Wedding Vendors Needed
By Jeffrey House Photography
You wake up on a warm and sunny morning in June. You can smell the fresh cut grass and you hear the birds chirping.
It's your wedding day.
As you think about the day to come, you smile. You feel happy and relaxed. You're anxious to get the day started. You don't realize it yet, but hours from now, you will be distraught and frantic when your photographer doesn't show.
I don't mean to be a buzz kill, but the news has been littered lately with stories of broken hearted brides and grooms. They have been victims of fraudulent wedding vendors crushing their dreams and stealing their memories. These stories have included companies not delivering the products as promised, photographers not showing up on the wedding day, wedding planners not upholding their promises, etc. The worst story featured a couple arriving to their wedding venue - on their wedding day - to find it was completely dark and empty. An absolutely horrific situation.
A year ago, as you began to plan your wedding, you probably sat down and made a list of wedding vendors needed. You may have asked yourself, "how do I find wedding vendors that are good, reliable, and trustworthy?" Many couples ask this very same question and it's a genuine concern.
In this article, we are going to give you 7 tips to avoid wedding vendor scams!
7 tips to avoid wedding vendor scams
1. Online Presence
We live in an age of social media. It affords us many benefits, but it also makes us vulnerable. Social media has made it extremely easy for less than honorable people to posture themselves as something they are not.
I see this all the time with wedding photographers. They are commonly referred to as the "Facebook Photographer." They don't have websites or a respectable social media presence. They create a Facebook business page and voila, they're a "professional" photographer.
Professional wedding vendors should have professional websites and social medial profiles. While they don't need to be on every social media site, they should occupy many. Generally speaking, most wedding vendors will be listed on Facebook, Twittter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Some photographers have included sites like Snapchat too.
You likely noticed I stressed the word "professional" a moment ago. A professional website will have a vanity URL. There are many free website options out there, but it's typically pretty obvious to spot them. Let's take a closer look.
Free website URL:
Professional websites with legal domain ownership:
You will notice the obvious difference between these web addresses. If you come across wedding vendors with an address that looks like the "free website," it's best to avoid them.
2. Never Work Without A Contract
The fraudulent wedding vendors are often masters as convincing you to do things that go against your gut instincts. Not working with a contract is one of them. In most cases, you're going to be investing a considerable amount of money to hire your wedding vendors. Protect your investment and be sure a contract is in place. But, not just any contract. Every contract should at least include the following information:
Detailed outline of all products and services to be provided/delivered by the wedding vendor
Clear notation of all fees and taxes in exchange for the products and services to be provided
It should clearly notate the responsibilities of all parties
I realize contracts are dry and boring, but be sure to fully read them. As you read through the contract, write down any questions or concerns you have. If you need clarification on an part of the contract, address it with your vendor. If you're uncomfortable with any part of the contract, discuss it with your vendor. Vendors will often adjust the language to better meet your needs. However, you shouldn't expect a vendor to make major changes to their contract.
Many couples will try to hire their wedding vendors based on word-of-mouth. We've been taught for a long time this is the best way to ensure a good experience with a business or company. Unfortunately, it's not the best approach in hiring your wedding vendors.
Let me explain.
Word-of-mouth can be great for ensure a business is reliable and trustworthy. That's why references is part of this list. If you're really uncomfortable, I would recommend asking vendors for references so you can speak to an actual client.
Remember, it's vital to hire wedding vendors that have great personalities that harmonize well with your personality. It's also great to hire wedding vendors that have flexible personalities and value the importance of understanding your vision.
You may have a friend that was married last year and adored her DJ. They formed a great connection and there was a clear understanding of the overall vision for her wedding. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean you will have the same experience. You may find their personality is annoying and you aren't able to form that same connection. Your experiences will be completely different.
[DISCOVER: 9 TIPS FOR CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER]
4. Business Cards
Your vendor's business card may seem like a small detail, but there are many subtleties that can give you insight into their business.
Let's take a look at some of the details to consider.
They Don't Use Business Cards
If a vendor tells you they don't use business cards, this is a red flag. Businesses can buy 100 quality business cards for as little as $50-$60. If you can't afford business cards, you probably shouldn't be in business. Many vendors may try to use the "I just ran out" or "my new design is being made up" excuse.
Cheap Business Cards
Sometimes small businesses use cheap business cards because they just aren't good designers or they don't understand the importance of a business card. Cheap business cards can be another red flag. Evaluate the card stock they're using. Is it thick and luxurious or does it feel like a piece of tissue paper? A business card is a direct reflection of your business. If nothing else, the choice of a business card may provide you with some insight as to how serious someone is about their business.
5. Lack of Location
A businesses location is a detail that can easily be overlooked. But, if you can't find where they are located, that's a huge cause for concern. Any wedding vendor's website should clearly and consistently list their location. Professional businesses will have it plastered everywhere because they want to be found.
Fraudulent vendors want to be found, but on their terms. If you can't determine the location of a business, an alarm should be sounding.
6. Business E-Mail Address
A subtle, but often overlooked, detail. A businesses e-mail address. Professional wedding vendors will typically have professional e-mail accounts. For example, my e-mail is:
Most fraudulent wedding vendors won't use a professional e-mail address because they cost money. Instead, they will use free e-mail services like "hotmail" or "yahoo."
If the vendor you're considering uses a free e-mail service, proceed with caution.
Price is a huge detail and it can tell you a lot about a businesses intention. But, in order to understand whether price is a red flag or not, you need to understand what's average.
The best way to determine the average cost of wedding details in your area is www.costofwedding.com. Simply enter your zip code and expected guest count, and they will show you what couples spent, on average, for each detail of their wedding. If you find the average cost of a DJ in your area is $1,800, but a vendor quotes you $600, move on. This is not a "good deal." It may not be fraudulent either, but it certainly tells you a lot about what to expect in regards to quality.
As you begin making your list of wedding vendors needed, keep these tips in mind. While non-professional email addresses and cheap business cards don't guarantee a wedding vendor is fraudulent, they are reasons for concern.
While you can't completely prevent yourself from falling victim to dishonest business practices, these tips address a lot of the common tactics used in these cases. The best advice anyone can give you is listen to your gut. Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong to you, step back and re-evaluate.
Have you had a negative experience with a wedding vendor or . know someone who did? Share your story with us!