Reduce the cost and stress of planning your wedding

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Better Business Bureau said couples arranging their wedding can use several strategies to ease the costs and stress of one of the most important days in their lives.

There are many elements involved, including the venue, wedding apparel, photographer/videographer, florist, caterer, limousine, music and more. BBB receives complaints about vendors who are late for the event or don’t show up at all, in addition to contractual disputes such as unexpected charges on the final bill. Many of these problems can be avoided by checking vendors’ marketplace records, or selecting them from Better Business Bureau’s Accredited Businesses Directory at bbb.org.

“There are many variables when you plan a wedding, but there is always room to adjust the costs if they swell beyond your budget,” said Connecticut Better Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. “It is just as important to protect yourselves from losing your deposits or having that magical day spoiled by a lack of planning or problems with a service provider.”

The typical cost of a wedding runs from $19,000 to more than $33,000. One estimate pegs the average cost at more than $26,000. Still, couples on a tight budget can put together a wedding day for $10,000 or less.

The earlier you start, the better the chance you will have of reserving the wedding venue and other vendors on your preferred date. Some couples begin planning more than a year in advance.

It is difficult to negotiate a discount during the peak wedding season, but couples can control many of the costs, such as opting for a three-course meal rather than five courses.

Connecticut BBB has a checklist to protect your wedding investments:

Ask about extra fees – Find out how much will it cost per hour, if you need the DJ, photographer, limousine or other provider to stay longer than stipulated in the contract.

Read the contracts carefully – Understanding your contract prevents unwanted surprises on your bills. All verbal promises should be in writing on the estimate and contract.

Consider wedding insurance – Wedding insurance can get back your deposits in the event of cancellation due to poor weather, injuries or sickness that prevents key participants from attending and that lost or damaged photographs that require additional outlays to reshoot. Insurance can also cover you if you are forced to relocate at the last minute in case of a problem at the venue.

Check into hiring a wedding planner – Most couples want to do certain tasks themselves, but there are many players in the event and they all need coordination. Wedding planners are familiar with this sort of contract and can review them to look after your best interests.
For more information on being a smart consumer, visit bbb.org