A reader: My daughter is getting married next June and I am helping her plan her wedding with a budget in mind that I thought was a generous one. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I got married in Las Vegas 30 years ago and really had no idea dresses, cakes and receptions, etc. could cost so much. I didn’t think photographers cost much and now I am discovering that they can be very expensive. I want my daughter to have the wedding of her dreams but everything is so expensive. There are no do-overs with this. I need to make sure I am hiring professionals that won’t botch the job and give me a fair price. How do I know that we will be happy with the end result?
Action Line: Congratulations on your upcoming event! Weddings, simple or fancy, always seem to cost more than we think they will. At the same time, it’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and your daughter will want it to be perfect. You are wise to be getting started now. Even though it’s a year away, the time will be upon you before you know it.
The first thing to do is to check the license of any company you do business with BEFORE you sign anything or pay for anything. Some industries are not required to have any competency licensing, so you can turn to bbb.org to see if the company you are interested in has a BBB Business Review.
If you’ve never planned a wedding, you may want to consult with a wedding planner. They can make sure your interests are protected.
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Ask your married friends for referrals. You can be sure that they will remember both good and bad experiences. My sister’s wedding cake didn’t show up on time. None of her guests noticed, but it nearly ruined her special day.
Next, shop around. BBB recommends that you shop for three comparative bids for each item on your list, three photographers, three florists, etc. Go to their shops, look at their products. Ask to see portfolios. Ask for references. Don’t just ask for references, check them no matter if it’s a photographer or the caterer or the florist. Remember, consumers who don’t do their homework can be left standing at the altar without a photographer.
When you do hire a company, make sure you get everything in writing. Any agreement should have dates, start and finish times, any additional charges that may apply, penalties for cancellations, and descriptions of products or services expected.
Don’t just plan and then wait. Check with your vendors along the way to make sure everything is on schedule. This is especially important for things like the wedding gown.
And as always check with your BBB before you sign any contracts or pay any deposits.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.