How to make sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch (but still get married)

Q: My daughter just got engaged and we are starting to plan her dream wedding. I want her big day to have no hiccups. What can I do to ensure everything goes smoothly?

A: Here are some tips on how to avoid common wedding problems:

Blair Looney

Research businesses – Read past customer reviews on, and verify their length of business. Make sure to check the business’ availability, ask what their plan is for delivering their product on time, and if they offer any guarantees – and NEVER pay the entire fee up front.

Unexpected fees – Some venues may charge extra for “plate splitting,” “cake-cutting” or “corkage” fees, especially if you bring in cake or liquor purchased from another source. Ask whether any fees apply beyond the cost per person, gratuities or room rental, if applicable.

Dresses – When ordering wedding and bridesmaid dresses, make sure your order specifies the sizing and dress colors, and the estimated delivery date, to ensure you have enough time to make any necessary alterations.

Photographers – When meeting with the photographer, verify when and how the pictures will be delivered, whether you’ll have the option of getting the images on a CD/DVD or on their website, how much time you will have to choose your images, if family members will have access to the images, and the price.

Musician or DJ – Couples shouldn’t rely on a website, demo tape or phone conversation when hiring a live band or DJ. Meet with the band or DJ prior to go over song lists, and find out where you can hear the musicians play before hiring them. Ask who will actually perform at the reception, and get a written commitment from the band or DJ, including the amount of time they will play and cost to extend the time the night of the event.

Floral – Make sure the florist knows the minimum amount of flowers/stems necessary in each bouquet arrangement, and ask the florist how they will handle any last-minute substitutions and charges, especially if the flowers used are different from what you had agreed upon.

Get everything in writing – Get all promises in writing, including specific dates, products, prices, name brands, etc. Make sure all oral agreements are included in the written contract, and the cancellation policy, including penalties.

Pay with a credit card – Avoid paying in cash. Some venues may only accept checks, but if possible, try and use your credit card as they have more protection in the event of a problem.

Follow up – Confirm all services two weeks prior to the event, and verify all of the details that were agreed upon.

Tell us about your experience by submitting a BBB customer review at

I hope her big day goes off with(out) a hitch!

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, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or