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Don’t Get Jilted Before You Get to the Altar

Tips on planning a wedding you love

Folks. Valentine’s Day is come and gone and remember February, is National Marriage Month (Who knew that was a thing?). Love is in the air and for the lovebirds hoping for a 2020 wedding, it’s time to get planning.

But with recent headlines about the chain of NOAH’s event centers abruptly closing around the nation and costing couples thousands of dollars (and heartache you can’t put a price tag on), wedding planning can feel downright scary. You need to choose the right vendor for so many details – like clothes, invitations, flowers, photography, reception hall, catering, music, travel packages, etc. Yikes! And the last thing you want is to end up like the jilted NOAH’s couples, crying on the local news because you have no where to get married. 

Before you let NOAH’s ruin the season of love, we’ve put together some tips to help plan and execute your wedding (with as few tears as possible).

  1. Decide what style of wedding you want (for example, big or small, formal or informal, winter or summer) and begin planning as far ahead as possible. A big wedding can take months to plan. Many books, magazines and websites offer ideas as well as checklists and timetables to keep you organized. Get Googlin’!
  • Research businesses you are considering working with. Always start at bbb.org when you’re researching a vendor. We’ll give you the good, bad, and otherwise on a company. As a nonprofit organization, we serve as a marketplace watchdog, evaluating businesses so you can shop with confidence.

Make sure you’re also getting referrals by talking to other couples about their experiences. Since most services and merchandise must be purchased or ordered months in advance, you want to deal with well-established and financially stable businesses (that will still be around when your wedding day approaches). Don’t just hire the least expensive company. Wedding vendors often know the reputations of other vendors and can offer great referrals. For example, if you find a perfect photographer to work with, they can likely recommend a great baker for your cake or boutique for you dress. Take those recommendations and cross reference them with reviews and complaints at bbb.org.

  • Review samples of the service provider’s work before booking. For example, attend performances of the band or DJ at another event. Check vendors’ social media accounts to see recent wedding photos and videos. Sample menu items (if possible) and check out display flower arrangements (or photo portfolios). Like scouring reviews and asking for referrals? Checking vendors’ work is one more safeguard to ensure you don’t encounter any unwanted surprised on your special day. 
  • Find out what the company’s return policy is and ask for it in writing. If you end up with 200 lanterns you never used, can you return them? If you didn’t eat with those tiny cocktail forks, can you get a refund?
  • If a deposit is required, find out in advance whether any portion of your deposit is refundable and under what terms. Be sure to get these terms and conditions in writing. Remember, to put down ONLY as much as you can afford to lose. If the NOAH’s victims are any indication, many couples overextend themselves financially to plan a wedding. Instead of blissful butterflies, spending too much can panic and frustration. 
  • Obtain a written contract for everything. The various contracts should identify exactly what is included and not included in the price. For example, will the caterer or reception hall provide dinnerware, linens, chairs, and tables? Does the price of the photos include engagement pictures, an album, or online gallery? Does the contract from the florist include delivery and set up times? Be particularly clear about the policies and penalties for cancelling or changing your plans. Also, find out if the business might make substitutions for what you requested (and if those will cost you extra).
  • Finally, confirm all services one or two weeks prior to the event. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises on your wedding day.

This season of love ensure those adoring feelings last all the way to your wedding day (and beyond). Plan ahead. Get everything in writing. And start with a business you can trust.   

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Written by Hannah Stiff

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