"Weddings are such a rip off!" How many times have you heard this one before? While it's true you'll probably pay more for your wedding than you would hosting a family reunion at the same venue, it's never okay for a wedding vendor to totally take advantage of you. From really doing your research to checking those contracts twice, here's not to not get completely "ripped off" during the wedding planning process.
Hire an experienced wedding planner.
According to Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner, your wedding planner is going to be your best resource for keeping you within budget. "We have access to venues and vendors galore and know exactly what the price ranges are for each category," she says. "We immediately know if you're overpaying or if you're getting good value for your money." A great planner can help you negotiate a great deal as well, and thanks to their long-term relationships with vendors and venues you'll likely get added value for the same exact dollar amount others would pay.
Be wary of all-inclusive packages.
While they're definitely appealing in terms of simplifying the decision process, all-inclusive packages leave little to no room for pricing negotiations and the fine print of actual expected cost is not always clear, often leading to spending more than you budgeted for, warns wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "They also often require use of an exclusive caterer or floral designer which may not be your preferred aesthetic." Bottom line: do your research and get a pro (like your planner) to review that contract.
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Always get a contract (and fully understand it before signing).
Make sure you get a contract that details exactly what you're getting, as well as the amount for the service and any payment plans, advises Samantha Gieseke, owner of Plan Our Day Houston. "Then read and review the entire contract to ensure you and the vendor are on the same page when it comes to payment, expectations, start and end times, delivery times (for photos) and the cancelation policy."
Do your homework.
Yes, it's typically true that you get what you pay for, however sometimes a vendor may charge more than the going rate, which doesn't automatically mean that they're better, cautions Samuels. "Research the vendor, through online reviews and/or verbal recommendations, looking at both the quality of their product or service while also taking into account the experience other brides and grooms have had in working with them." Does their brand match their price tag or is it a mismatch? Have they been doing this a long time or are they still wet behind the ears? If their experience level and the quality of what they offer seems inferior to their price tag, continue your comparison search to see if indeed they are charging a fair price, she recommends. "If, on the other hand, the price tag is commensurate with their experience and level of talent, you can rest assured that you're not getting ripped off."