Prevent Wedding Vendors from Scamming You
I was meeting with a bride/groom this week and they wanted to hire me for a 2020 wedding, which was awesome. We went over the contract, figured out all the details of what they wanted, got the price locked down and they wanted to pay me in full, right on the spot.
I told them no!
When they asked me why, I told them right on the spot, “listen, you don’t really know me, nor I you, it’s not in your best interest to just fork out all that money to me on the spot. Sure, I’ve been in the business a long-time, 21 years, but never give a vendor the full amount until right before the wedding day…”
Well, that made them think for a minute, not that I’m a scammer or anything of that nature, but what I said was true, and handing over the entire amount to a wedding vendor, may be a great idea it’s not.
You Don’t Know Us and We Don’t Know You
Many times, over the years I’ve seen couples give full amounts of cash to vendors and they were either no shows or they didn’t produce what the contract stated in the end. Take for example a wedding videographer that was sued in Wisconsin for not delivering his films or images to the wedding photographer in Virginia who hasn’t been able to complete his wedding images and return them to couples, making up excuses all along the way, that was on the news this September, 2019.
Now, don’t get me wrong, most wedding vendors are not like this, in fact nearly 99.6% of all wedding vendors are great, faithful people.
But the truth of the matter is that we don’t really know each other that well other than what we show online, perhaps a meeting face-to-face or via phone.
What to Look for to Help Protect You
First, you need a contract, written and signed by both parties. Inside that contract there needs to be some basic stipulations about what happens if that vendor can’t make it for whatever reason. Now, that could come in various forms, for me as a filmmaker, I have two other part-time people that can take my place as needed as well as a third-party video company (not weddings) that can fill in at the last minute.
But even-so, there should be something in the contract about cancelling or having to reschedule the wedding and what is to happen.
Also, make sure that YOU have a copy of that binding contract. If something does go wrong with a vendor, you will have it to show in court.
In my 21 years of filming, I’ve only had two weddings that got rescheduled and both were due to snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I was able to accommodate both with the new dates, so I didn’t need anyone else to step in, but situations sometimes do happen and having a back-up plan is important for both parties.
Experience is a Good Key Indicator
What I mean by that is you want to look for someone that has good reviews from other vendors and from online sources. Sure, you might find an occasional bad review, but if it’s one in 10 and the reason was because of something the person ranted about, take it with a grain of salt.
Remember, you can never please 100% of the people in your life, 100% of the time.
Sparking of bad reviews, they happen to just about anyone, including the luxury wedding vendors. My buddy Ray Roman who is a nationally know wedding filmmaker, one of the to 10 in the world, had bad reviews in the past. I myself have had one bad review and I myself didn’t even film that wedding.
With that being said, look for patterns in reading reviews online, one bad in a mix of good ones isn’t a red flag but bad review after bad review will give you a tell-tell sign of what to expect with that person or company.
Both parties should be smart about setting up the contract and how everything is paid for when it comes to your wedding. After-all, you’re spending a lot of money for you event, the last thing you need is some fly-by-night wedding vendor to come, take your money and do a horrible job, let alone, stand you up at the wedding!
To recap, follow these guidelines when working with vendors:
· Have a signed contract by both parties
· Give no more than 50% at the signing, the remaining in payments or a couple weeks before the wedding
· Make sure the contract has good stipulations for both sides
· Retain a copy for your records
· Review the vendor both online and from other vendors if possible
· If they seem shady, reconsider signing with them. Well established vendors are better than brand new ones