Wedding-related scams come in many forms, and all have the potential to separate newlyweds from their money, potentially ruining what is often the biggest day of their lives. To ensure your wedding planning process is hiccup-free, watch out for these three scams.
1. Gem Scams
Choosing an engagement ring or wedding ring is difficult enough without the prospect of getting ripped off with a dubious diamond. Ring shoppers frequently get drawn into buying a phony ring, or a ring that isn’t as valuable as advertised. Major price markups, sketchy diamonds, and deals that seem too good to be true are common occurrences for ring shoppers.
Avoid such scams by bringing in a professional ring appraiser to evaluate the quality of a diamond. If that’s not possible, ask the dealer if any non-certified diamonds are on display. If so, either avoid them or ask for a steep discount, as they’re not the quality certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA is deemed by industry experts to be the top gemstone rating agency in the world. Having a GIA-approved certificate for a ring means it underwent rigorous inspection, and is graded by professional gemologists.
Additionally, if you’re buying a ring online, check customer reviews to see if the gem in question may be less than advertised.
2. Unscrupulous Wedding Planners
No-show or “low-show” wedding planners can ruin the bride and groom’s big day—and their bank account—by not following through on promised services or providing low-quality services. As with any wedding vendor, make sure your wedding planner is fully vetted and is given a solid rating by the Better Business Bureau.
You can also check out forums on sites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Weddingbee for ratings, information on working with wedding planners, vendors and other tips.
Also, ask for references from your potential wedding planner (if they don’t provide any, keep looking) and be wary of any wedding planner who asks for a hefty deposit for services (more than 50% of the total cost is excessive). Insist on a signed contract and include a provision for a “60-day prior” meeting to make sure wedding-related services are on schedule and within your budget.
3. Wedding Vendor Scams
Another area where fraudulent activity occurs can be with specific wedding vendors, like a photographer/videographer, caterer, entertainer, and/or floral specialist. The last thing a bride and groom need is a no-show photographer or band, or a low-quality floral arrangement or catering experience. As with a wedding planner, vet any wedding vendor, ask for references, have a contract, and don’t put too much money down front before hiring them.
Get ahead of any potential problems by asking trusted friends or relatives for recommendations and hire local, rather than out of town, to reduce the risk of problems.
Newlyweds have every right to use any legitimate means possible to cut the best deal they can when planning for their wedding day. Just know that wedding scam artists are out there, so the best strategy to take is to vet anyone you’re hiring, carefully scrutinize the legitimacy of online deals, and be cautious when making payments to wedding vendors. Don’t let your emotions lead you into a bad situation because you fall in love with something promised to you. Proceed cautiously and carefully, and you’ll up the odds of your wedding experience being a positive one—free of fraudsters and full of joy for the future. Read more about other common scams here.
Learn more on staying protected at Experian.
Brian O’Connell is a former Wall Street bond trader and the author of two best-selling books; “The 401k Millionaire” and “CNBC’s Creating Wealth”, he has 20 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, technology, political and career management sectors.
For those still worried about being scammed–don't let a wedding-related scam ruin your big-day.