January 5, 2010
Got Engaged Over the Holidays?
Sensible tips for planning your wedding and not losing your money
HARTFORD, January 5 – The holiday season is prime time for many couples to become engaged to be married. And equally so, once the holidays are over, the month of January is prime season for bridal shows, so the Department of Consumer Protection is offering some advice for couples who are going to be planning and shopping for their wedding in the upcoming months.
“Starting this weekend, there are at least ten major bridal events scheduled in or around the state through March, so we want to offer a little advance advice,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. said. “No matter if it’s small or large, casual or fancy, your wedding is an event that’s going to involve some out-of-the-ordinary expenses and purchases, and you’ve got to be well prepared. My first piece of advice if you’re going to a bridal fair, is to bring a notebook but leave your checkbook home. Take the time you need to gather information on lots of venues, photographers, florists, dresses and caterers. Don’t make any hasty decisions.”
However, says Farrell, as you move further into the planning process, the single most important thing you must do is carefully read all contracts and be sure you understand them before you sign.
“What are the cancellation policies and deadlines? How much of your deposit is non-refundable? What is the exchange or refund policy on your wedding dress? What is included in the catering cost? How much will it cost for the band to play an extra hour? You’ll want to be sure you understand all of these possibilities and contingencies,” Farrell said. “Get every detail in writing and be sure both you and the business agree on all points before signing a contract. Include exact descriptions, and add your own statement that you will not pay for services and expect a complete refund on any deposits if the company does not deliver exactly as specified in the contract.”
When booking photography, video or DJ services, you may want a particular person assigned to your wedding because you have seen their work and really like it. Make sure this individual’s name is specified on the contract.
Specify in writing the photos that absolutely must be taken – for example, your great aunt or your twin nephews. You’ll also want to provide some overall direction, such as how many candid photos you prefer versus formal photos. Give your DJ a list of songs to play. Agree in writing to a timeframe in which you’ll receive and approve your proofs, and a price for a minimum number of prints you agree to purchase – aim low because you can always add more later.
After you’ve made all your choices based on careful attention to personal recommendations, price, quality, convenience and amenities, you’ll want your down-payments to be safe.
“Use a credit card for all deposit payments – where possible - and give the smallest possible deposit that you can,” Farrell said. “If something goes wrong, payments you made by a credit card can be disputed through the credit card company, but payments made by check or cash will be much harder to get back.”
It’s a good idea to book your wedding sooner rather than later, in order to get the widest choice. Also, if something does go wrong, you should have enough time to make alternate arrangements.
Once you have booked your hall, caterer, florist, photographer and other businesses, be sure to stay aware of how those specific businesses are doing.
“In good times and bad, there will always be companies that go out of business for a wide variety of reasons,” Farrell said. “If the caterer or photographer has a website or email newsletter, sign on and check that the information there is up-to-date. Take an occasional ride by the reception hall or the florist shop on a weekend to see that it’s thriving. Stay informed about the companies you’re doing business with.”