A couple’s wedding day is one of the most important and magical days of their lives…or so it should be. The disasters we see play out on reality shows like Bridezillas actually happen in real life to good, innocent people. In an effort to help future brides and grooms protect themselves from getting scammed from wedding vendors, some of our own clients have shared their horrifying stories from their own wedding days. Taking notes from these brides’ stories may help you to avoid a dilemma on your big day.
Alicia M. – Bridgewater, NJ
“I didn’t have the consumer knowledge and research skills I have now back when I was planning my wedding, not to mention the internet wasn’t available. When my husband and I got married in 1995, we hired a young and energetic DJ who had a nice office. Mistake number one: don’t be fooled by a nice office. Our DJ sounded very knowledgeable and business-like with a great deal of experience. Mistake number 2: we should have asked for the last 5 wedding events he’d DJ-ed, not just references, which could have been his relatives. Our DJ had no back-up plan when he lost his voice, and no back up DJ for a replacement. So we ended up having a DJ orchestrating our event with barely any voice. The equipment also was not what was promised. We chose, with a lot of care, our special wedding song entrance for our Bridal Party and for us to walk into the recpetion and the DJ played the wrong songs. Looking back I wish we would have had a stronger contract with guarantees as well as more research in what DJs should provide.”
Tracy G. – Belleville, NJ
“We are getting married August 9, 2014. We met our photographer at a bridal expo. We saw him at two different expos before choosing him. He was working with his wife and they both were extremely nice and friendly. We made an appointment to sit with him at his office in Little Falls. My fiancé and I loved his pictures and still thought they were good people. We really wanted Michael and his wife to shoot our wedding. We never saw any red flags. One day I was at work and my fiance texted me with a link for NorthJersey.com and he asked me if that was our photographer. There was an article stating that he has been arrested for fraud. He used to work in New York, but he got caught scamming people so he came to New Jersey and used a different last name. I was fuming! We actually found out so much information about this fraud because we went to the police station to file a complaint and the cop told us so much. Even that the guy’s son owned a collection agency in New York. How ironic, right? Well, we were told that we can’t file a complaint because he hasn’t done anything to us yet. He hadn’t not shown up to our wedding or owed us pictures. So I figured that we are out of luck with our money (initial deposit and second payment.) Now we had to find a different photographer even while on a budget in the first place. Advice to other couples getting married, use vendors that were recommended to you by people who have used them before!”
Hair Stylist Horror
Maria V.- Fair Lawn, NJ
“I hired a hair stylist to do mine and my bridesmaids’ hair for my wedding. My first red flag should’ve been the fact that she took forever to get back to me. The second red flag should’ve been the fact that while I was getting my hair trial she kept talking to her friend about the grand opening of her hair salon. This was a red flag because it was scheduled for the day before my wedding and I had a feeling that would be an issue. Fast tracking to the day of my wedding. The lead stylist and her team were supposed to arrive at 8am but instead arrived at 10am with half her team to do 13 girls’ hair, including mine. This caused me to be two hours late to my ceremony, which in turn caused my entire wedding day to be delayed. The time for our pictures was cut short, I missed my cocktail hour and surprise Mariachi band, and had to pay an additional $1,300 for the limo which waited longer than originally planned. My hair stylist was rude, inconsiderate and unapologetic.”
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Wondering how you can avoid being scammed on your big day? Here are professional tips to keep in mind when shopping for your wedding vendors:
1. Pick apart the vendor’s website. Check for unprofessional things like misspellings and poor site design. Any serious vendor invests well in their site—the primary representation of their business. Another crucial point is to check how long the site has been in existence. Very recent sites should raise a red flag. You can learn how to verify a site’s age here.
2. Check online reviews for the vendor. Granted, not every vendor will have 100% positive reviews, but use your judgment to see how far back the reviews go to help verify the credibility of the vendor. If possible, reach out personally to prior clients of theirs.
3. Look them up on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest or LinkedIn. It’s difficult to fake true followers and likes.
4. Ask the vendor if they’re willing to use a contract. Many couples overlook this, but it’s necessary to protect yourself legally. And any vendor who is serious about their business will want to be protected as well.
5. Ask them what kind of payment they accept. If it’s only cash, be sure to ask for a receipt. Vendors should be willing to accept check and credit cards—which can be disputed in case of fraud.
6. Compare prices. If a price is considerably lower than the competition, that should raise some issues. A good vendor will charge a fair price for their services.
7. Buy insurance! Although this doesn’t prevent a scam, it’s a good safety net to give yourself.
8. Don’t hesitate to contact the Better Business Bureau. Even if a company isn’t an outright scam, any shady practices should be reported.
Post by Izabella De Souza