It’s wedding season and wedding planning is in full swing for couples seeking to tie the knot over the next few months. Speaking of wedding planning, I just read a timely article about wedding scams that are making the rounds. As someone who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, I have heard of some of these scams, and never heard of others. So I thought I’d write a quick post about what to look out for and how to avoid becoming a victim, whether you’re a wedding vendor or a bride.
One of the newest scams targeting wedding vendors and event planners is referred to as “accidental overpayment.” This is when a supposed bride or groom contacts a vendor purporting to throw an extravagant wedding and tricks the vendor into sending money from a bad check she deposits.
Here’s how this scam works: a bride and groom contacts a vendor about providing services for their wedding and sends a check for more than what is required. They then claim the overpayment was an accident and ask the vendor to deposit the check, and then ask for the vendor to “refund” them for the overpayment. However, instead of sending the refund directly to the couple, they ask the vendor to send the refund to another business that is supposedly working with the couple. That payment goes through, but the original check bounces and the vendor is out that money.
The key to this scam is that it’s done entirely through email. The vendor never actually meets the bride or groom. Some simple ways for vendors to protect themselves from this kind of scam are to 1. Actually meet the bride and groom in person, 2. Make sure they have been referred by someone the vendor knows, and 3. Do not refund any money to either the bride or the groom and especially not to an unrelated third party until the original check clears and the money is in the vendor’s bank account.
Here are some other scams that target brides and grooms:
Faux Wedding Gowns
Shopping online can save brides money as items sometimes can be found for less from online vendors. However, it’s easy to pass off fake designer gowns for the real thing when the bride is not able to see the actual dress. If the price you find online sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To avoid buying a fake designer gown, it’s best to shop at a reputable store or if purchasing online, buy only from reputable sellers or through trustworthy payment portals such as PayPal.
Photographers who scam wedding couples will have top-notch websites and will happily book the event for them, but when push comes to shove, will avoid meeting the couple in person. They will sometimes even demand payment in full before the wedding takes place. Then, having been paid in full, they don’t show up. The best way to avoid this kind of scam is to get a referral for a photographer from someone you know and who has either worked with the photographer before or knows the photographer personally. Also, do not pay the photographer in full until after the event, and after the photographer has provided the full services promised.
Believe it or not, there are thieves out there who crash weddings simply to steal a couple’s wedding gifts. There are a few ways to avoid this problem, especially if the wedding is being held in a hotel or other venue that is open to the public. First, make sure the gift table is not accessible to uninvited guests. Second, hire someone to stand guard at the gift table during the cocktail hour, then collect the gifts and place them in a secure location until someone from the wedding party can take responsibility for them after the event.
It’s unfortunate that there are people out there looking to scam couples on the happiest day of their lives, but with a few precautions, and some common sense, brides and grooms (and vendors) can avoid these scams.