Friday, March 5, 2010

What We Can Learn from the Boston Bridal Show Scam

In the last few days there has been a lot of talk about the bridal expo in Boston that turned out to be a giant scam. Thousands of people were conned out of money by someone who chose to take advantage of them at a time when “starry eyes are accompanied by open wallets,” as AOL News put it, AKA: during an engagement.

The majority of victims, bridal couples, did not lose an overwhelming sum of money, but the real disappointment for them is the rude-awakening amongst their giddy wedding planning dreams. When most people think of wedding planning they envision flowers and cakes and tastings and dances, and not con artists and scammers. The reality, however, is that these people are out there and waiting to take advantage of the clouded mind.

Whether or not you were a victim of the Boston bridal show scam, there is a lesson to be learned to prevent something similar from ever happening to you or ever happening again. You can have that dream wedding planning experience with just a few precautionary steps:

Avoid making deposits online without direct contact with a vendor, or confirmation from a source you trust. For example, in the case of the expo, the venue was provided, so it would be an excellent idea to call the venue to confirm that a bridal event is, in fact, happening. Do this before you sign up for the event, and especially before you make any sort of monetary commitment.

Get it in writing. Bridal shows are not the only place where potential scams lie. As disheartening as it is, you never know who you can trust when it comes to vendors for your wedding following through on what they promise. In order to avoid any confusion or miscommunication, and to assure that you receive what you bargained for, make up a contract that very specifically states what you will receive and for how much money. Both you and the vendor should sign it, and make copies!

Something’s not quite right. We all know that feeling, that nagging sensation that there’s something fishy going on. Your instincts are often right, so trust them! If you feel that you’re being “taken to the bank” by a dress shop or you feel uneasy at all, there are other dress shops! Go with your gut and that alone will often avoid a disappointing outcome.

Comparison shop. “Wow, that’s A LOT to pay for a photographer! Florist! DJ! Limo!” Well, in fact, maybe it is WAY too much to pay them, but if you don’t comparison shop to understand what prices are reasonable, that wannabe Paul Oakenfold might seriously rip you off. Always shop around so that you can go into negotiations with a clear understanding of what is fair to both parties.

Hire a wedding planner! If all of this seems overwhelming to you, that’s understandable. You have a lot on your plate. That’s where a wedding planner can come in tremendously handy. It is the wedding planner’s job, in most cases, to handle all of the contract work, scheduling and details with vendors, so you can make all the fun decisions and leave the nitty-gritty up to him or her!

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