If you’ve recently said yes — or heard it uttered while sweating on one knee — congratulations!
But once you’re done basking in the glow of the 800 likes you got on your rock’s Instagram pic, it’s time to start getting serious.
You’ve got a big event to plan.
Where there are big events, people spend big money. And where people spend big money, scammers take advantage of opportunity.
Ah, the algebra of paranoia.
Watch Out for Wedding Scams
We’re not suggesting there’s a conspiracy theory around your upcoming wedding, but be vigilant.
Real couples have fallen victim to matrimonial manipulations before you. In fact, wedding scams were on SiteJabber’s list of the top consumer complaints in 2015.
But we’ve got your back.
Here are 10 of the most common wedding scams to watch out while planning your big day.
1. Dreadful Diamonds
If you’ve yet to pop the question, be especially careful when purchasing stones from afar.
It’s hard to judge the quality of a diamond — or the honesty and professionalism of its seller — when you only see it on a screen.
If you found a deal that’s too good to be true, it just might be. Check out consumer reviews to ensure the seller is the real deal.
And don’t spend a penny until you read our ultimate guide to how to buy an engagement ring!
2. Deficient Dresses
For lots of brides, the dress is a crystallization of the day itself. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime garment representing how beautiful she’ll feel, how happy she’ll be and how long she’ll remember her special day.
For these reasons, it would be an especially nasty thing to have ruined by a scammer.
If your dream dress is important to you, beware online knockoffs at deep discounts. They may show up at your door only to be a poor, shoddily made approximation of the picture.
Worse yet, you may never get your money back when you inevitably return it.
3. Poor Planners
If this whole wedding-planning thing has your head spinning, you’re not alone.
If you can afford it and want to avoid the headache entirely, hiring a wedding planner might be a good option. But like any other service professional, the market’s got its superstars — and those who aren’t so great.
In this couple’s experience, the planner simply never made a limo reservation. That’s just one of a plethora of big problems you don’t want to face at a very critical time.
Make sure the person making the phone calls for you… will make the phone calls.
4. Phony Photographers
You probably hope you’ll remember every single instant of your wedding day for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, though, our human memories are imperfect. Besides, you can’t be everywhere at once. There might be stuff going on across the room you won’t even know about unless someone takes a photo of it.
What if those photos are of poor quality? Worse yet: what if those photos never get into your hands?
That makes your wedding photographer a very important person.
One way to make sure you have a good one: ask to see three or four full wedding portfolios from potential photogs.
“Don’t be fooled by a photographer who only shows you a shot here or there from several different weddings,” says wedding planner Sarah Chancey.
“You want to know your photographer will do an incredible job from start to finish.”
5. Crappy Cakes
Wedding cakes are one of the reasons I’ll never actually get around to opening the bakery I pipe-dream about: Look how pretty they are!
I was one of those people who could barely color inside the lines, let alone craft flowers out of fondant.
But again, if you’re going to spend $1,000 on what amounts to flour and butter, make sure you do your research. Otherwise, the finished product might surprise you. In a bad way.
It’s funny online, but not on your wedding table.
6. Finicky Fine Print
You’re probably going to sign a bunch of contracts over the next few months.
We know it can be time-consuming and boring to read the fine print. But there are some pretty crazy terms out there — some it’s in your best interest not to accept.
For instance, this hotel charges couples a $500 fine if a party member leaves a negative review of their establishment online.
So, it bears repeating: Read the fine print.
7. Odious Officiants
Yep, this really happened.
Make sure your officiant’s the real deal, so your wedding is binding legally as well as emotionally.
8. Contemptible Crashers
You remember the movie.
Before you dismiss it as harmless fun — the more the merrier, everything’s already paid for, right? — keep in mind you don’t know anything about these people.
They might ruin the party, offend your guests, bomb your photos…
9. Rotten Robbery
… or even steal your wedding gifts while you’re not watching.
Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t limited to strangers who make their way into your reception. Even folks you know might be tempted by the glittering pile of booty your guests brought.
And don’t forget about the stuff you’ve already got.
Home burglars are often on the lookout for public wedding announcements — so they can target the house you’ll leave empty while you’re honeymooning, according to CNBC.
10. Petty Price-Gouging
What amounts to an industry-wide scam is actually considered totally acceptable.
Everything will be more expensive if you say you’re getting married. You might pay double for the exact same hairdo or bouquet if it’s officially wedding-related.
Depending on how you feel about it, consider “scamming” those vendors right back and keeping mum. It’s a rip-off to upcharge just for adding “wedding” to the product description, after all!
Don’t Overspend on Your Special Day
In our opinion, if you spend the American average of $26,000 — or even the more typical $10,000 — for a single day’s party, you’re scamming yourself.
Bonus: A lot of these cost-savers avoid the above vendors entirely, bringing your chances of falling victim to a scam… to zero.
Your Turn: Have you ever been the victim of a wedding scam? Let us know in the comments.
Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes other stuff, like wine reviews and poems.