Angie's List: Plan ahead to keep your big day from becoming a big disappointment

Make smart decisions regarding wedding vendors

TAMPA - Planning a wedding is an exciting time, but it can also be very emotional and stressful. To help ease the stress, your best tool is making smart hiring decisions.

Angie List founder Angie Hicks said wedding categories are some of the most complained about on her consumer website. "In 2011 three wedding categories actually made a repeat appearance in the top ten most complained about categories; they were bridal shops, tuxedo rental shops and wedding planners. When it came to tuxedo rental shops and bridal shops it came to orders not coming in on time, problems with alterations and general customer service. When we looked at the reviews for wedding planners it came down to things not being completed according to the contract as well as missed deadlines."

Angie's List talked to highly-rated wedding professionals who say managing expectations and a little pre-planning will help you as the big day approaches. Here are Angie's List tips on how to get quality wedding service:

  • Work with a reliable company: Look for someone with experience in providing services for numerous weddings. Is the company helpful and professional? Check review sites such as Angie's List and ask for recommendations from family and friends.
  • Develop a budget: Weddings can be costly. It's important to develop a budget before you talk with vendors. A good reputable company will map out a plan to meet your price point. In addition, you'll get better customer service if you are upfront about your budget, rather than wasting time trying on dresses or visiting venues you can't possibly afford.
  • Read the fine print: Before you sign anything, ask and make sure you understand deposits, fees, terms, conditions, store policies, etc.
  • Do not pay in full: Put down the minimum deposit on a credit card and stretch out the rest of the payments until your order is complete. Pay with a credit card, so you can file a claim dispute if necessary.
  • Document everything: Your best defense in case something goes wrong is documentation. From phone calls to emails – keep a record of who you talked to and when.
  • Don't delay: Don't wait until the last minute to hire vendors. Once you have researched and found reputable companies to work with, make and effort to communicate them about your plans. The best professionals typically book up far in advance. 
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