Do your research when planning your wedding to avoid problems on big day

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QUINCY — Couples who got engaged during the holidays are likely to spend spring in a whirlwind of wedding planning, attending wedding expos, bridal shows and consultations. The last thing anyone needs during this stressful wedding planning process is to deal with a business that can’t deliver on its promises.

BBB often receives complaints about wedding-related businesses of all kinds, including supplies and services, cakes, venues, caterers, florists, limo services, DJs, consultants and photographers and videographers.

Many complaints about wedding vendors involve delays in providing the agreed-upon service or product. BBB recently issued a warning on a Springfield-region bouquet preservation business that, according to customers, failed to deliver a quality product on time, and in some cases failed to return bouquets to their owners.

Other consumers have complained about unexpected fees, no-shows, poor communication or difficulty obtaining a refund.

As wedding season ramps up, BBB advises newly engaged couples to research businesses carefully before deciding to work with them.

Avoid these common wedding planning pitfalls:

  • 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 liquor purchased from another source. Ask vendors whether any fees apply.
  • 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. Give the shop your schedule in advance.
  • Musician switch. Don’t rely on a website, demo tape or phone conversation when hiring a band, musician or DJ. Make sure you hear the musicians play before you hire them and get a written commitment for the service.
  • Photographer issues. Consumers often complain about months-long delays in receiving their wedding photos or videos. Find out when and how the pictures will be delivered, how much time you will have to choose your favorites and whether other members of your family or wedding party will have access to them.
  • Floral changes. Fresh flowers are a perishable commodity, and the final arrangements may change depending on what’s available on your wedding day. Confirm a minimum size or number of stems in each bouquet or arrangement. Ask the florist how they handle last-minute substitutions and charges.

Find trusted wedding vendors:

  • Research businesses before hiring them. Search for wedding businesses at BBB.org to see reviews, ratings and complaints. Check how long the business has been in operation and how they addressed any past customer complaints. You can also see whether a business is BBB Accredited, meaning they are committed to BBB’s Standards of Trust and follow ethical business practices.
  • Get it in writing. Get written contracts for all services and read them carefully before signing. The contract should outline what services the business will provide, their plan for delivering the services on time, any guarantees, cancellation policies and refund policies.
  • Don’t pay the entire fee in advance. Most wedding vendors require a deposit, which is often nonrefundable. However, consumers who pay in full up front for a service that is not delivered to their satisfaction report difficulties in getting a refund. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute charges if needed.

Follow up.

  • Contact the vendor to confirm all services one or two weeks prior to the event. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises on your wedding day.

Check out BBB’s Wedding HQ for more tips.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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