Wedding Vendors: 3 Wedding Vendor Scams To Avoid

07/25/2012 12:04 pm ET

It's supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, so the last thing you want to think about is getting ripped off by a down and dirty wedding vendor. But it does happen... so today, we share three prevalent scams crooked vendors pull on nearlyweds:

1. The Anti-Planner: You hire a wedding planner to help lighten your load, and he or she books all the biggie vendors (with your approval of course) so you don't have to. When the big day arrives, the limo is late (or so you think), so your groom and his groomsmen find another way to the ceremony. But at the ceremony venue, the photographer and videographer are MIA, and now there is serious cause for concern. It turns out, the planner never hired the limo, photographer, or videographer as promised. He or she took your money and left you in the lurch. This happened to one Kansas City couple, and you can read the full story here.

2. The No Show Photographer (and the case of the disappearing photos): You find an amazing wedding photographer, and can't wait to see how he or she captures your big day. The photog insists on a hefty deposit or the full amount up front (and seems to have a valid reason for requesting this), but when it's time for the 'getting ready' shots on your wedding day, your photographer is nowhere to be found. You call and call, text and email frantically, but to no avail. The photographer took your money and ran like the wind. Another scam scenario is when the photographer does show up, takes photos (and your money), but goes undercover when it's time to deliver the wedding pictures. This scam is potentially worse, because you don't have the opportunity to find a stand-in photographer to take the shady vendor’s place.

3. Online Wedding Dress Nightmares: Hundreds of brides are conned by online bridal boutiques each year, and while you can save a ton of money ordering your wedding dress online, it's a scary world and you must tread cautiously! In one scam, the bride purchases a dress and when it's delivered to her door, it looks worse than a poor man's version of the dream dress they were promised. As one nearlywed put it- "It was a mish mash of unglued lace, a floppy corset with missing supports and a rusty pin left in the fabric." Obviously, the bride sends the bogus dress back for a full refund, but weeks (then months) pass, and the refund never arrives. In other instances, the wedding dress is never even delivered in the first place, and the money spent is gone for good.

Yikes! Terrifying, right? But no need to worry, because if you’re wondering how you can avoid these scams, the three tips below will keep you in the clear:

1. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So, if someone promises you the $1,500 designer dress of your dreams for $400, think long and hard before saying "I Do." Otherwise, you may end up with no dress at all.

2. Do your research, read any and all fine print, and ask questions if something doesn't sound right. Use recently wed friends as resources and sounding boards, and when in doubt, go with your gut!

3. For extra peace of mind, consider purchasing wedding insurance. It protects you and your soon-to-be against vendors who fail to deliver, and costs just $150-$400 (a drop in the bucket, considering the average cost of a wedding in the US is ~$29,000).

Have you had an encounter with a shady wedding vendor? Any red flags brides and grooms should be looking for?

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