For some, Valentine’s Day is more than flowers and chocolate. For approximately 10 million people it means a ring and a life changing question. Wedding season is right around the corner and in 2019, more than 150,000 couples turned to Better Business Bureau for inquiries regarding their wedding day. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) reminds consumers that doing thorough research before choosing a wedding vendor can save stress, worry, and money.
Last year, 1,173 consumers filed complaints with BBB regarding wedding vendors. Complainants tell BBB they ordered products like wedding dresses and wedding favors with the expectation that the products would arrive in time for the wedding, but found there were delays in delivery, without an acceptable refund or other recourse.
“Choosing the right wedding vendors can play a pivotal role in the success of your big day,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “Likewise, choosing a poorly run or dishonest business can ruin your big day.”
BBB proposes that newlyweds consider the following when planning for their special day:
■ Research the vendors. Before you fall in love with any vendor, check its availability for your wedding date. Go to bbb.org to read verified Customer Reviews and complaint history. Ask the business ahead of time what their plan is for delivering their product on time and get three bids before saying “yes.”
■ Double check prices and unexpected fees. Some caterers, hotels or reception venues charge extra for “plate splitting,” “cake-cutting” or “corkage” fees, especially if you bring in a cake or alcohol purchased from another source. Ask if any fees apply beyond the cost per person, gratuities or room rental, if applicable.
■ Dresses that don’t measure up. Brides have complained to BBB about bridal shops ordering the wrong sizes and colors of gowns as well as dresses that arrive too late for timely alterations. Make sure your order specifies new merchandise, sized to fit you and your bridesmaids. Call the shop to remind the staff of your schedule if you don’t hear by the promised time.
■ Wedding transportation problems. Common complaints about limousine service include poor customer service and rigid cancellation policies. Get everything in writing and never pay the entire amount in advance.
■ Musician switch. Never rely solely on a website, demo tape or phone conversation when hiring a band or other music service. Find out where you can hear the musicians play before you hire them. Ask who will actually perform at the reception and get a written commitment from the band or musician, including the amount of time they will play and costs for additional time.
■ Photographer issues. Common complaints about the photographer include not showing up for the wedding and failing to deliver pictures until months after the wedding. Find out when and how pictures will be delivered, if there’s an option to receive images on a flashdrive, length of time available to choose the desired photos and who will own the rights to share, distribute and print the images.
■ Floral changes. Fresh flowers are a perishable commodity and the final bouquet or arrangements may need to change depending on what’s available on the wedding day. Make sure you spell out a minimum size or number of stems in each bouquet. Ask how the florist will handle any last-minute substitutions and charges especially if the value of the flowers actually used is different from the agreed-upon amount.
■ Bridal gown preservation. Some bridal shops and other businesses sell bridal gown preservation packages including cleaning and a storage box. Many of these packages are no more than regular dry-cleaning and a cardboard box that may not be acid-free.
■ Consider purchasing wedding insurance. Wedding insurance can cover a range of prospective problems including vendor no-shows, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, travel delays and more. Many policies start at $200 and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.