Weddings are a highly emotional, high-stake, super-sensitive, family-oriented gathering. I know surely two days into your planning, you will discover that fact. Unfortunately, the unscrupulous are privy to this information, as well. What does that mean for you and me? Together, we have to sort through the shady vendors and clauses and come out unscathed for your beautiful wedding. But let’s say you don’t have the assistance of a wedding consultant (gasp!). Here are some sure fire indicators that you can be “had”, and how to avoid them.

You beg or whine. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! We’ve seen them on Bridezillas and other reality shows. The brides that lose all sense of sanity, decorum and tact. You may as well have a red dot on your head. Begging and whining may have worked with your parents, and may even win an argument with the future husband, but this is business.

While it is okay to feel this way, do your best not to show it. If your reception site is not available on the day you want, either change your date or venue. If your florist has strict policies against using certain pieces in his arrangements, find a new florist or compromise on new arrangements. We all know the saying, “Good things come to those who wait”. If a vendor says to you, “This is a popular date or month”, more likely than not, they are telling you the truth.

However, resist the temptation to sign a contract immediately to secure your dream site or band. Unless you have done your research, are knowledgeable on comparable pricing and are satisfied with the level of service you will receive, think it over. Talk it out with your fiance, mother or wedding planner. Do you get a good and secure feeling when dealing with the vendor? Can you see yourself being satisfied with their service or product? If so, sign on! If not, ignore the pushy sales tactics and ask other questions until you can make a sound decision.

Remember, reading is fundamental!! It’s not only fundamental in this business, it is mandatory! Contracts are staples in this industry, in place to protect you and the vendor. It, in essence, says, “I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do, and you are going to do what you say you are going to do”. You are bound to the contract just as much as the vendor. If you do not understand or agree with something, speak up before you sign.

Payment schedules, services, overtime fees, cancellation/refund policies should be spelled out and explained to you prior to your endorsement. You risk breaching your contract, losing money and a service if you do not adhere. It is too late to ask questions or refuse to pay after the contract has been finalized.

Moreover, pay attention to all of the clauses. Do they sound fair? Does your contract have an escalation clause? Some vendors, mainly reception sites, have clauses which say if you book your event far enough ahead you agree to pay their future prices instead of the prices available at the signing of the contract. How do they obtain these figures? Most vendors consult the CPI, Consumer’s Price Index, to see what inflation rates will be in the next few months or years.

If you are argumentative, immature and ungrateful (formally known as a Bridezilla) refrain from temper tantrums. As much as it means to you, your wedding is not the only wedding happening. Your vendors have other clients, too! Vendors belong to a tight wedding network. You don’t want the photographer you’ve been drooling over to turn your business away because he has heard about your unpredictable and rude behavior.

If you ask for a proposal from a vendor within your price range and, instead, you get something that equals the national deficit: Houston, we have a problem! You want to work with a vendor who not only possesses creative genius, but is also willing to work within your budget. If your vendor refuses to meet you at your level or makes you feel inferior for even asking, thank them for their time and exit stage left.

Remember, this is your wedding, and you hold the checkbook. While they have the professional experience to meet your needs, you know your financial limits. Don’t sign a contract without a clue as to how you will pay for your service or product. Who wants to start a marriage in debt? When you cave easily, you leave yourself open for future pressure tactics and manipulation. This may be the only wedding you will ever plan, so be smart! Don’t get scammed!

These examples are not to say that all vendors are bad, or vendors who do use these tactics are shady. The key is to get you in tune with the cues that could leave you open for misinterpretation. Surround yourself with great vendors and do your research. Ask someone to look over your contracts. Your wedding planner will be able to decipher which clauses will protect you and which could be to your detriment. Always take someone with you on vendor visits: your wedding planner, your mother, your maid of honor, etc. They may catch a detail that you may have missed, which might be crucial to your decision-making process. All in all, enjoy yourself! Planning your wedding should be fun and stress-free!

by Terrica Skaggs

Image by In-Vision Studio