1. “We could go out of business before your big day"--Wedding spending fell 32% during the recession. After recovering, spending is now flattening out. In 2012, the average wedding cost $25,656, an increase of just $25 over 2011. That's causing some vendors to close up shop—without event telling their clients! IBusinesses don’t have to announce they’re having financial trouble, so it’s up to the couples to protect themselves. When possible, they should put deposits on a credit card. The Fair Credit Billing Act offers a refund if services or items paid for aren’t delivered.
2. “Inspiration boards? More like unrealistic-expectation boards”--Couples say planning websites and online inspiration boards have put on more pressure for making their day special. Pinterest.com had more than 30 million unique visitors in March. Two of the 10 most popular boards are wedding-related, with Wedding Gifts (No. 9) and DIY Your Wedding (No. 10). Weddings also represent 4.9% of popular pins, which mostly feature photos that set the bars very high. Part of the problem is that “handmade” favors and decorations that show up on inspiration boards are crafted by a team of wedding stylists, not the bride. Inspiration boards can help kickstart ideas, but brides and grooms should focus on a few big elements, like picking a talented photographer, or finding a gorgeous venue that doesn’t need much decoration. They should also avoid dealing with little details for every part of the celebration.
3. “We’ll punish you for those heightened expectations.”—More vendors are charging for high expectations. Prices have a 20% to 25% “marriage markup”compared with the cost to rent the same space for a Sweet 16 or to buy floral centerpieces for an anniversary party. The industry has helped create a "bridezilla" character, they encourage that behavior and then charge you for it. The markups and fees mean it's important for couples to compare costs at different vendors.
4. “Tax and tip not included.”--Service charges can be confusing. They are usually automatically added to vendors’ contracts, but they're not usually a gratuity. It’s on the couple to ask or they'll have to risk a last-minute scramble for cash to tip the banquet manager, servers and bartenders.
5. “The ballroom you chose only permits ‘approved vendors’ — that cost more.”--Arrangements between wedding vendors can push costs higher by not letting couples negotiate. Couples need to ask planners and venues about their pricing and how they source the vendors they work with.
6. “Hope you’re running on schedule. We’ve overbooked.”--Brides and grooms might think theirs is the only wedding on that day, but that might not be the case. Other problems that can happen: You might not get the quality expected if a florist throws together the centerpieces or a cake baker hands off decorating to an assistant. With venues, schedules can also be tight. If a hotel has other events, your vendors might not be allowed to arrive beforehand to set up. And if there’s another wedding at the church, there might not be much time to delay the ceremony if guests are delayed by traffic. Not holding on to a schedule could lead to overtime fees or less time spent celebrating. Ask how many weddings a vendor takes on per day or weekend.
7. “This award isn’t exactly an Oscar.”--Couples searching for a great venue or cake baker might be surprised to find they have some award-winning candidates to choose from. WeddingWire.com has “Bride’s Choice Awards,” The Knot.com has “Best of Weddings,” and local chambers of commerce and bridal vendor guides also hand out awards. But winners aren’t always the best. What you don’t know is that vendors can sometimes buy those awards. The entrants might be limited to advertising vendors or through “editor’s picks” instead of votes from brides and grooms. Even if the vote is based just on couples’ votes and reviews, there are fake ratings. At TheKnot.com, awards go to vendors that have regularly received positive reviews from real brides.
8. “Do sweat the small stuff — or at least the price tag on the small stuff.”--Too much attention to detail can break the budget. Couples spend an average of $322 on table centerpieces, $294 on reception decorations, $206 on favors and $70 on escort place cards. The best thing to do is to simplify and focus on the big picture.
9. “We’re eying your bling.”--A flashy engagement ring can lead to a bigger wedding bill. Vendors create proposals based on what they think you need. They judge you by your ability to pay and sometimes lead you toward more expensive things. Vendors can also get a sense of your finances from the church or reception site you’ve picked.
10. “Every artist was first an amateur, and many still are."--There’s a good chance that some of the vendors couples come across haven’t worked many weddings or have little or no professional experience. Review each vendor’s resume, look for details about years in the field, training completed and professional associations joined. Ask for recently married couples as references and meet the vendors face to face before you sign any contracts.