Wedding season scams; Why your big day is someone else's easy target

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Wedding season scams; Why your big day is someone else's easy target

CREATED Feb. 22, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - For you and your future spouse, the day you say "I do" is supposed to be the most magical day of your lives.

But before you don the dress,  greet the guests, and cut the cake, beware.  
Experts say there is no shortage of sleezy vendors out there ready to cash in on your big day.
9OYS has three top tips to help you avoid wedding season scams.
Jackie Smith still remembers the first time she saw him.
"I was on my break in the back of the break room, and in walks Randy.  I said 'Oh! He must be the new guy!" she said.
That was seven years ago, when Smith and Randy Cox, then fresh-faced teens, worked together at a Tucson hardware store.
"From there we started a conversation and started finding things that we had in common," she said.
Those things included a love of sports and live concerts.
Fast forward to the present, the fresh-faced twenty-somethings are tying the knot. 
"We actually were in Vegas we went to Phantom of the Opera, went to a nice dinner, and then went back to the room and in front of a strip view, I got down and proposed to her," said Cox.
Almost immediately, they... okay, mainly Jackie... began planning their May wedding.
But for brides like Jackie, taking their wedding plans from paper to the altar isn't always so easy.
These days, you need the right photographer, the right caterer, the right venue... and experts say, therein lies the risk of planning weddings.
"Kind of, anything can happen," said Sharon Merchant.
The Tucson-based wedding planner and owner of Arizona Event Management says the variety of vendor-horror stories is astounding.
"I do get a handful of them," she said.  "Even up to drunk vendors on the day of."
Other big blunders include photographers who only snap a few photos, or DJs who put on a lack-luster show, despite bigger and better promises.
"A lot of times in fact, it can be, like a bride will just hire their friend because their friend wants to break into the market or something and get the experience," she said.  "Since their friends, then maybe they're also a wedding guest.  So I usually see the problem with that."
And these tales of wedded bliss missed make for frequent complaints at the Better Business Bureau.
"Something went wrong.  They weren't able to get their dress," said spokesman Nick LaFleur.  "Maybe a vendor took a bunch of money and didn't show up for the wedding."
Lafleur gave us some easy steps to help couples avoid getting swept off their feet by slick vendors.
"Number one is make sure you read the fine print in all your contracts, all the terms and conditions," he said.
And if a clause seems questionable, question it.
Contracts can be changed, he says, and you should be comfortable.
"Another thing we recommend is pay with a credit card as well, if possible," said LaFleur.  "A lot of times, credit cards have built in protections.  They have insurance built into them so if something does go horribly wrong, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company."
Lafleur's final tip?
Do some digging.
Websites like 'the Knot', 'Wedding Wire' and '' offer vendor reviews, free of charge.
It's all advice Smith and Cox learned the hard way.
You see, this is actually their second attempt at strolling down the aisle.
Personal issues forced them to postpone their wedding once before.
As a result, they lost out on more than $1,000 in deposits.
"I guess you could say in that sense we are a little bit wiser," said Smith.
This time around, they are crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i', negotiating their way to wedded bliss, so that afterward, they can focus on the important things as Mr. and Mrs.
"You know never having to yell at the other one for watching football on a Sunday or never disagreeing over a concert that we both want to see because we both like a lot of the same bands," said Smith.  "It's quite easy to rely on him as a friend and as a future husband."
For help planning your wedding, check the sites mentioned above.
You can also contact Sharon Merchant, via her website, or check out the Tucson Bridal Event.
It's will be held Sunday, March 3rd at the Raddison Suites located at 6555 East Speedway.