According to Forbes, the average cost of a wedding in 2024 is $33,000.  Whether you’re having a lavish 5-figure wedding or an intimate elopement, bad actors want to cash in on this and they’re ready to help you part with your money.

Here are a few strategies that can help you navigate this new world of wedding planning and (hopefully) prevent you from being scammed. Established businesses who value their reputation will be able to meet all the below strategies.

Keep in mind two things:

  • There are honest people who may not meet the criteria below, and they are normally new in business.  Ask if they can comply with the top three; if they cannot, keep looking.
  • If a price or deal sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t a good deal.

INSURED
If it’s a legit business, they will have liability insurance to perform its advertised services.  Ask for a Certificate of Insurance or a copy of their declarations page from the policy.  Make sure the policy dates are current!  For added protection, ask that it be sent to you from their insurance agent.  We have known people who took out a policy to show proof of insurance, and then cancelled it.  If you’re still unsure, talk to their insurance agent.

REGISTERED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE / DEPT OF REGULATORY AFFAIRS
Some services, such as hair/makeup, bartending, etc. are required to have industry related registrations or licensing with the state. In Colorado, that’s called the Department of Regulatory Affairs and they have a great look-up feature on their website.  All businesses should be registered with their Secretary of State and they also have a great business lookup feature on their website. You’re looking for current (not expired) registrations.

CONTRACT
Does the vendor provide a contract (and I don’t mean an email confirming the details of your conversation)?  The contract should indicate all terms of agreement including – and especially – cancellation by either party, dates, payment, and any guarantees.  Make sure rules are included if the vendor fails to deliver according to the terms of the contract.

REVIEWS
CHECK THEIR REVIEWS… especially the low rated reviews!  How long ago were the bad reviews? What was the vendors response? From a vendor’s perspective, reviews are a two edged sword: we love them, but it’s almost impossible to remove reviews we don’t like. While bad reviews aren’t always a telltale sign, the vendor’s response to them is.

GET RECOMMENDATIONS
Ask friends, family, and in wedding planning groups such as those on Facebook, for their recommendations and always ask for specifics.  Why are they recommending them is a good place to start.

You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to do all of this!”  You can alway hire a virtual assistant to spend 1-2 hours researching your vendors.  A $50 investment of time could save you thousands in the long run.

By Denise O’Malley, Business Manager / Officiant