What to watch out for when planning a wedding

By Anthony GiorgianniConsumer Reports

If there's one thing June is known for it's weddings, a time for great happiness and joy—unless something goes wrong. Imagine that just before the big day, you find that the bridal shop has gone belly-up, leaving you and your bridesmaids without your wedding dresses, or the photographer you hired has absconded with your deposit. We've seen such disappointments occur time and again.

Earlier this month, for example, the Pennsylvania attorney general announced a series of settlements, including one with a wedding photographer who was accused of accepting payments and then either failing to show up at weddings or failing to provide consumers with their albums or photographs. Also this month, the Florida attorney general filed a lawsuit against the operator of a wedding venue that suddenly shut down after taking $22,600 in deposits from at least eight consumers. And in time for the wedding season, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York warned consumers to take precautions when booking caterers, musicians, and other wedding products and services.

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Is wedding insurance the answer? Read 'Should You Buy Wedding Insurance?' And if you know someone who is tying the knot, check out our report 'Wedding Gifts From Our Tests That Stand The Test Of Time' and the 'Consumer Reports' Guide To Wedding Gift Registries.'

What to do

  • Try to use a known provider of wedding-related goods and services. Get recommendations from friends and relatives, if possible.
  • Check out the company. Obtain at least three references. Look for a report at the Better Business Bureau, and use a Web search with the company or individual's name and such terms as "reviews" and "complaints."
  • Read contracts thoroughly before signing. Be sure any times and dates are included and are correct. Find out what the cancellation policy is. You never know who might get cold feet.
  • When leaving a deposit or making a payment, use a credit card instead of cash, check, or debit card. That way, if there are any shenanigans or a company disappears overnight, you can ask your card issuer for a chargeback. Never pay in full ahead of time.
  • As an extra precaution, double check with the providers a few days before the wedding that everything is ready to go and that there are no complications. Verify dates and times.
  • If you think you've been scammed or otherwise victimized, file a complaint with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.

Anthony Giorgianni

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