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BBB Trends: If you are taking those steps toward ‘I Do,’ have a plan and don’t fall for high-pressure sales

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

At least 40 percent of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day and one of the first stops for many newly-engaged couples may be a bridal expo. A wedding is one of the most expensive, one-day investments a couple will make, so making a split-second choice might end in unnecessary extra costs.

On average, couples will spend approximately $27,000 for the perfect clothes, food, and venue for their wedding. Before visiting a show full of vendors attempting to sway that money their way, sit down with your partner and make a list of items you would like for your wedding. Then, go to the show with an idea-focused mindset so that you don’t make any important decisions impulsively.

When you arrive, take your time at the different booths and watch for strange or senseless fees. Some caterers, hotels, or reception venues may try to charge unsuspecting couples for invented fees like plate splitting, cake cutting, or bottle corking – especially if the couple purchases food, cake, or liquor from another source.

For transportation to and from your ceremony, compare car rentals or limousine companies and research the services they offer. Ask how they handle pricing or satisfaction issues, and see if there are any charges for last-minute wedding day adjustments. It might be a good idea to have a rough schedule from the time of the ceremony to the reception. This may help in comparing estimates between services and deciding on which one to go with.

Set up an appointment with any prospective bands or DJs you find in order to hear them play; they’ll sound much different in person than they will at the expo or on a CD. Make sure the person you interview is the person who will be performing at the wedding, and draft a detailed written contract outlining anything you agree on in your meeting. Discuss the type of playlist you want with your partner and ask the person if they have the mix of genres you’re looking for.

The greatest way to remember the best day of your life is with beautiful photos, so it’s important to make the right decision when choosing a photographer. BBB often hears complaints from newlyweds about photographers who didn’t show up or photos that didn’t arrive until months after the wedding. Before choosing a photographer, ask to see proofs of their work, find out when and how the pictures will be delivered, and determine whether or not you’ll receive the digital files of the images.

Falling for the high-pressure sales pitches and limited time offers at the expo can push a budget higher than planned, so it’s best to sit back and take some time. After you return from the bridal show, relax and decompress, sift through the materials, and check out the Business Profile of any vendors you’re considering at bbb.org.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for Better Business Bureau in Cincinnati. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. She can be reached at 513-421-3015.

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