Every bride and groom wants their wedding to be perfect. Although weddings are highly emotional events, they typically involve numerous business transactions including wedding clothes, invitations, flowers, photography, reception hall, catering, music, transportation, and travel packages. Since the average wedding can be quite costly, the Better Business Bureau advises engaged couples and their families to make wise consumer decisions when planning a wedding, as at other times. The following suggestions can prevent problems before, after, or during your wedding:
Decide what style of wedding you want (for example, big or small, formal or informal, winter or summer) and begin planning as far ahead as possible. A big wedding can take months to plan. Many books and magazines are available that offer ideas as well as checklists and timetables.
Research businesses you are considering working with. Call the Better Business Bureau for a reliability report on the company and talk to other couples to learn about their experiences. Since many services and merchandise must be purchased or ordered months in advance, you want to deal with well-established and financially stable businesses that will still be around when your wedding day approaches. Don't just hire the least expensive company.
Review samples of the service provider's work before booking. For example, attend performances of the band or DJ at another event. Look at photo albums or videotapes done for other couples. Get descriptions of or try to sample menu items and check out samples of flower arrangements.
Find out what the company's return policy is and ask for it in writing. If there are extra items unused at the wedding can you return them for a refund?
If a deposit is required, find out in advance whether or not any portion of a deposit is refundable and under what terms. Be sure to get these terms and conditions in writing. Remember, to put down ONLY as much as you can afford to lose.
Obtain a written contract for everything. The various contracts should identify exactly what is included and not included in the price. For example, will the caterer or reception hall provide dinnerware, linens, chairs, and tables? Does the price of the photos include engagement pictures, an album, or proofs? Are the names of band members and song lists included in the entertainment contract? Does the contract from the florist include delivery and set up times? Be particularly clear about the policies and penalties for cancelling or changing your plans. Also, find out if the business might make substitutions for what you requested.
Finally, confirm all services one or two weeks prior to the event. You don't want any unpleasant surprises on your wedding day.