Sunday, May 6, 2007

So Your Vendors Didn't Perform...What To Do Now?

They are many brides' greatest nightmares...the DJ shows up intoxicated; the videographer fails to show up at all; the photographer ruins virtually all of the wedding pictures; the cake at the reception is the exact opposite of the one that had been ordered...and so on. Let's face it: weddings can be grand affairs, with months of planning and little lee-way for things to go wrong. Of course, something is always bound to go wrong: it's nearly inevitable.

Yet there is a difference between commonplace errors and blatantly unprofessional misconduct. While certain mistakes may be excusable, or even inevitable, other errors stem from wrongdoing and negligence on the part of wedding vendors. If your wedding was marred by grave mistakes that you believe could have been avoided, don't think you have lost the battle. The most important thing to recognize is your right to take action after the event has taken place.

Of course, it can be difficult to tell whether an error was an honest mistake or the product of unprofessionalism. In order to differentiate between the two, consider the following questions:

** Could the mistake have been avoided?

Example: Your photographer could have avoided leaving her camera at home, but may not have been able to avoide purchasing bad film.

** Would other vendors in the same field/profession have done things differently?

Example: If your DJ came dressed in a clown's suit despite his contract stating he would wear a tuxedo, chances are not many DJ's would dare to do the same. Performing a job in a manner that deviates from methods commonly employed by professionals in the same field can be an indicator of negligence.

** Was the mistake a significant one?

Example: One missing rose on your cake may not even be noticeable to anyone but you, but an announcement like "Our Sympathy For Your Husband's Passing" on the top tier may indeed cause irreparable damage at your reception.

** Did the vendor attempt to rectify his/her mistake?

Example: After recognizing that your wedding video was ruined, did your videographer offer to try and recreate some of the scenes (or give you a full refund,) or did he hang up on you?

After carefully examining the situation, you will be able to determine whether you wish to act upon the mistake or simply let it slide. And if you do wish to go after a vendor who acted in bad faith, please know that you have many options. Consider the following:

** Report the business to the Better Business Bureau.

** If the vendor is a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, contact them and report that vendor.

** The vendor may belong to other professional organizations--you may choose to ask these orgazizations to reprimand the vendor.

** If the negligent performance was in breach of a contract, file a suit in Small Claims Court.

** Hire an attorney to recover actual costs of damages and/or punitive damages.

** Send a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper--there's nothing like unfavorable advertising to stop businesses from acting in bad faith.

Budget Wedding: How to cut back!

Lucky and rare are the bride and groom who have no money concerns when it comes to planning a wedding. But no one wants to forever regret a decision made to save a few bucks. Obviously, everyone has their own priorities, but here are a few suggestions on where to skimp and where not to:

Two years from now, what will you have? Typically the rings, the photos, and the bridal dress. Don't skimp in these areas--choose wisely.

Get rings that you like a lot. Don't overspend, but don't skimp. The rings should be comfortable, both physically and mentally. You'll be spending more time with the ring than with your spouse!

The photos will be your main method of remembering the day. They will be shown to everyone you care about. Don't get an amateur. A pro is worth the money. Make sure you like the personality of the pro you choose. Ask to talk to a reference or two. The reference should be more than happy--they should be excited about their pictures. If not, choose someone else.

The dress will be what everyone looks at all day. Obviously, the bride should love it, but ideally, the bridesmaids should, too. Let them help choose it.

Next most important is the cake. Don't skimp here. Good taste and tastes good.

Look to cut the budget in other areas: Flowers, reception, catering, limo, DJ, invitations, honeymoon. Here are some hints:

--Consider buying flowers from a large grocery store. Many have florists who are inexpensive. They could do the table flowers, corsages, etc., leaving the bridal bouquet to the full-service florist.

--If you buy a few extra flowers (see above) and a few other decorations, you can "upgrade" a "second-class" hall to a first class one, saving money on your reception.

--Consider providing some of your own food and having the caterer serve it. Most caterers will do this and it will save you money.

--Do you really need a limo? Maybe you know someone who has a snazzy car who wouldn't mind being your chauffeur.

--You only really need a DJ when you think people will be dancing. Play a tape of background music during dinner. Dancers do need a DJ, however.

--Consider homemade invitations. They are usually more meaningful to those who get them. Art store staff people can help you make them look great.

--Your honeymoon can help balance your budget if you plan TWO honeymoons: A short one now and a longer one later after you save up some more money!