When you dream of planning for your big day, the last thing on your mind is worrying about vendor fraud. You’d sooner prefer to think that everyone you hire has pure intentions and wants nothing but the best for you and your future spouse. While this is nearly always the case, it’s important to be mindful that unfortunately, there are those in the industry that do prey on hopeful, happy couples. It’s very sad to imagine that anyone could tarnish your wedding day, let alone have it be someone you invested your money and trust in.
What Does Vendor Fraud Look Like?
Vendor fraud isn’t always black and white. While it can be as obvious as someone stealing your money or flaking on attendance, there are sneaky ways that you can be swindled as well. Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events says, “Some of the red flags to look out for when choosing a vendor for your wedding are negative reviews, little to no online presence, and pricing that seems too good to be true. Having an online presence is a key component to a business' legitimacy these days. It may sound weird, but it's true. It's one of the first things that couples look for.”
Additionally, Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map warns couples to be wary of, “Anyone that asks you to pay 100% upfront or offers you a discount to do that. Consider asking the question of how many weddings they have booked for the next 18 months and compare that to other vendors in that category. If the number seems very low, that can be a red flag.”
How to Protect Yourself
So, when you can spot the warning signs of a bad vendor, how do you protect yourself? Heather Rouffe of Atlas Event Rental says, “Read the contract thoroughly and use reputable vendors. A red flag can be paying in full up-front. You want someone with legit policies in place! It’s also best to use a payment method like a credit card that can protect you in case of an issue.” You can find more advice on what to look for in a vendor contract here.
Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group notes that if you’re in too deep, “Document all of your conversations (even phone calls) with follow-up emails to ensure you have everything in writing and are on the same page throughout your planning process.” This way you have supporting evidence if something does go wrong, and all of your bases will be covered.
It should also be said that if you don’t click with those that you’ve hired to help you with your wedding, it’s time to look elsewhere. Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services says that this is especially noteworthy. “You want to make sure you get along with them on a personal level. They should be easy to converse with and have a similar style to you. And honestly just trust your gut! It’s kind of like dating — when you know, you know!”
Know the Signs of a Great Wedding Vendor
You should absolutely be on the look-out for things that seem suspicious, but think about the signs of a well-trusted vendor as well. Dennis continues that credible ones, “Maintain their website and listings, have a welcoming office space, professional references, and have a strong contract in place.”
According to Velez, genuine vendors will also have an impressive and up-to-date portfolio of their work, immediate (and constant) communication, as well as an active social media presence. The good ones won’t have anything to hide!
While vendor fraud is a very serious offense, there is thankfully an incredible industry on your side that can help you to weed out the sketchy contenders. Doing your research, reading the fine print, and arming yourself with a backup plan (or wedding insurance!) is exactly the course of action you should take when scouting out vendors to make your big day a success.