Weddings are supposed to be happy events. However, if you do
not plan carefully, your happy event can become a catastrophe.
Some keys to help avoid wedding catastrophes are:
everything in writing.
what happens if you cancel.
The most common complaint from consumers getting married is
that they do not receive their gowns on time or as ordered.
Choose a bridal shop that has a good reputation. While
shopping, be alert to problems other bridal parties may be expressing.
Plan to order your bridal gown nine to twelve months before
the wedding. Extra time may be required if alterations are necessary or the
manufacturer sends the wrong size or wrong dress.
Bridesmaid dresses should be ordered a minimum of three
months before the wedding.
Before you place an order, be sure to ask about refunds,
exchanges, and credit policies. You should always get these policies in
Many shops require a nonrefund-able 50% deposit and do not
allow cancellations or exchanges. Since most dresses are special orders or
altered, the shop may not be able to find another bride interested in that
exact style and size. Most shops cannot afford to bear the expense if the
wedding plans change.
Formalwear companies encourage couples to make arrangements
two to three months early so the wedding party can be fitted at their leisure.
Most shops recommend that fitting be completed at least four weeks before the
wedding to ensure availability.
The shop may be able to correct ill-fitting attire if tried
on several days in advance of the wedding.
There is risk dealing with unknown wedding photographers or
individual photographers because they can go out of business very quickly.
Consider if the photographer is part of a company or firm.
If they are, the company may guarantee their reliability or the quality of
their work. However, make sure the photographer you like is the person from the
company that will be taking the photos on your wedding day.
Ask how long they have been in business. Ask to see sample
photos. Ask for references and the names and telephone numbers of recent
customers. Call these customers and ask if the photographer fulfilled all the
terms of the contract and took all of the promised photos. Was the photographer
polite and courteous?
Some photographers ask for more money or may not take the
photos you requested. To help avoid problems like this:
photographer how long they will work. Some will not stay for the reception unless
you ask and you may have to pay an additional fee.
the photographer you want is named in the contract. Sometimes the photographer
turns out to be an inexperienced assistant you have not checked out.
you will get ownership of the negatives and proofs.
your friends can take photos. Some contracts do not allow anyone but the
photographer to take photos.
the photo delivery date is included in the contract.
clear of contracts that require you to commit to anything, such as the purchase
of a photo album, if the final cost is not disclosed.
photographers have a standard contract, allowing for little negotiation. If you
are asked to pay before the photos are delivered, think it over. Suggest paying
a third down when signing the contract, another third shortly before the
wedding, and the final third when the photos are delivered.
business asks you to post-date your check, circle the date in red ink, and
write “do not pay until date shown” on the back of the check.
When setting up arrangements with the printer try to make
arrangements so you can proofread the documents before they are printed. By
proofreading, you decrease the chance of errors.
Make sure the contract specifies the exact date the
invitations will be finished. Also, include in the contract who will be
responsible for mistakes made by you or the company.
You will want to have the invitations completed well in
advance of when you plan to mail them in case something goes wrong with
Look at samples before finalizing floral arrangements. Ask
to see more than one option within your price range.
Do not be pressured into spending more than you would like.
Remember that even little changes to your order can cause additional charges.
If the flower is out of season it may also cost more.
Make sure your florist contract includes specific delivery
times and locations. If the flowers are being used both at the ceremony and the
reception, be sure the contract specifies who is responsible for transporting
Check with the florist to see what will happen if the
flowers you choose are not available. Ask what kind of flowers would replace
them and if it would cost you extra money.
Ask friends and family for references on caterers or ask the
company if you can come to one of their events to observe them at work. Many
caterers will set up a time for you to do a tasting when you are trying to make
your food decisions.
Make sure the contract includes information on food preparation
and service, prices, any beverages that are included, service charge or
gratuity details, cancellation and refund policies, and plans in case of bad
Ask your caterer, who is responsible if dishes or other
items from the caterer get broken, and ask to this included in your contract.
Honeymoon travel tips
Planning the perfect honeymoon can be stressful. A few ideas
to ease the stress:
lists to help you pack wisely. Remember to pack less common items such as extra
memory cards for your camera, batteries, and important phone numbers. Making a
list will help ensure you do not forget anything.
making reservations, tell them you are coming for your honeymoon. Many places
will provide extra little perks at no cost if they know it is your honeymoon.
having troubles with your name change. Changing your name can take weeks. Make
all honeymoon reservations for the bride using her maiden name. This will avoid
trouble at airport security with identification matching the flight reservation
money than you think you will need. Activities, drinks, food, and tips can end
up being more than you planned. Many honeymooners choose an all-inclusive
resort. If you do this, make sure you know what exactly is included in the
using a travel agent. They can make all of the arrangements. Many travel agents
know where to go depending on what you want out of your honeymoon. Also, if you
run into problems along the way, you have someone to call.
traveling overseas, be sure to have your passport and up-to-date vaccinations.
Passports can take time to get and you are charged extra fees if it needs to be
rushed. Make sure your passport is not expired. Vaccinations are required to
travel to some countries. Know if you need any vaccinations and if you do, make
sure you have had them.
are on a budget, consider a mini honeymoon. Doing a small weekend getaway until
you have the money to afford something more extravagant is a good way to de-stress
while still being money savvy.
With the rising cost of weddings, you may want to consider
getting wedding insurance.
Wedding insurance can cover a variety of items. Be sure to
read your policy to know exactly what is covered and what could be added on to
better fit your wedding.
Typical wedding insurance policies cover bad weather,
illness or injury, a missing officiant, missing vendors, and the location for
the ceremony and/or reception. Some locations may have their own insurance policies
in case of damage to the site or electrical problems.
Riders can be added to policies for military service to
cover gowns and tuxedos, gifts, and/or honeymoon. If you are hosting the
ceremony or reception, consider liability insurance.
Wedding insurance will not cover cancellation due to cold
feet or because of something you knew when taking out the policy.
General booking tips
Here are some general booking tips for planning a wedding:
recommendations from family and friends.
names and telephone numbers of recent customers to see if they were satisfied.
Ask for a
sample contract and read it over carefully.
all costs and delivery dates are specified in the contract.
sign a blank contract.
as little money as possible.
pay by credit card. If something goes wrong, you can turn to your credit card
company for potential help.
signing a contract, stay in touch with the vendor to make sure they are still
in business and prepared for your event.
Research bridal shops, reception halls, caterers, jewelers,
florist, photographers, limousine services, bakers, stationary, and
entertainment needs prior to booking. Ask the companies for references you can
contact. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the Bureau of Consumer
Protection for complaints about the company before choosing to use their