Angie's List: Wedding Planning

Summer is almost over, but the wedding season will be in full swing throughout the fall. And if you're planning a spring wedding, don't delay. It's important to start planning early, and avoid common pitfalls so your wedding day will be one to remember forever.

When it comes to weddings, three common villains routinely top the list of complaints.

"When it came to tuxedo rental shops and bridal shops it came to orders not coming in on time, problems with alterations and general customer service,” explains Angie Hicks founder of Angie’s List. “When we looked at the reviews for wedding planners it came down to things not being completed according to the contract as well as missed deadlines."

So look for experience. Look for someone with experience in providing services for numerous weddings. Is the company helpful and professional?

Check review sites such as Angie's List and ask for recommendations from family and friends.

Weddings can be costly. It's important to develop a budget before you talk with vendors.

"The average wedding these days is over $20,000 so being sure that you are taking your time and documenting well all the services you are hiring is very important,” says Angie. “So make your down payment as required as according to your contract, but don't pay everything upfront and pay with a credit card and stretch the rest of the payments out as services are rendered."

And get everything in writing, even the small details.

"Your wedding document everything get contracts that are very detailed explicitly saying when things are going to be performed, what you are going to pay,” explains Angie. “Document phone calls and that will be your best line of defense if something happens to go wrong."

The wedding dress will be the bride's biggest decision.

"When a bride goes into to try on wedding gowns couple pieces of advice first of all if you can avoid bringing a lot of people with you,” says Bridal Shop Manager Tracy Moore. “It's best to start out small. Sometimes that is impossible everyone wants to come in with you, but if you can limit it to just two or three really close family and friends I think that is best."

And it's not a decision to be made in haste.

"To ensure that you have a positive experience I would allow yourself plenty of time,” says Moore. “Plenty of time for ordering your dress, plenty of time for alterations we are all human everyone makes mistakes. The more time you allow yourself and us, the more time we have to correct any problems that might occur."

Remember, before you sign anything, ask and make sure you understand deposits, fees, terms, conditions, store policies, the whole ball of wax.

Common complaints with bridal shops/tuxedo rental:
• Issues with ordering
• Poor customer service
• Problems with alterations/measurements

Common complaints with wedding planners:
• Contract disputes - agreed upon services were not honored
• Planner was unresponsive
• Deadlines were not met

Angie's List talked to highly-rated wedding professionals who say managing expectations and a little pre-planning will help you as the big day approaches.

Angie's List Tips: How to get quality wedding service
• Work with a reliable company: Look for someone with experience in providing services for numerous weddings. Is the company helpful and professional? Check review sites such as Angie's List and ask for recommendations from family and friends.
• Develop a budget: Weddings can be costly. It's important to develop a budget before you talk with vendors. A good reputable company will map out a plan to meet your price point. In addition, you'll get better customer service if you are upfront about your budget, rather than wasting time trying on dresses or visiting venues you can't possibly afford.
• Read the fine print: Before you sign anything, ask and make sure you understand deposits, fees, terms, conditions, store policies, etc.
• Do not pay in full: Put down the minimum deposit on a credit card and stretch out the rest of the payments until your order is complete. Pay with a credit card, so you can file a claim dispute if necessary.
• Document everything: Your best defense in case something goes wrong is documentation. From phone calls to emails - keep a record of who you talked to and when.
• Don't delay: Don't wait until the last minute to hire vendors. Once you have researched and found reputable companies to work with, make and effort to communicate them about your plans. The best professionals typically book up far in advance.


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