Angie's List: Avoid wedding woes


If you've ever planned a wedding, you know how stressful and costly it can be.

To help ease the stress and save you some money, your best tool is hiring the right people to be a part of the big day.

"The average wedding these days is over $20,000 so being sure that you are taking your time and documenting well all the services you are hiring is very important," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List founder.

"Before you decide the details of the big day, decide your budget. Know that a good reputable company will map out a plan to meet your price point. Once you have your eye on a wedding service, read the fine print on all contracts before you sign anything. Also, never pay in full. Only put down the minimum deposit and keep every decision documented.

"Your wedding document; everything - get contracts that are very detailed explicitly saying when things are going to be performed, what you are going to pay. Document phone calls and that will be your best line of defense if something happens to go wrong," said Hicks.

Angie's List figured out that bridal shops and tuxedo rentals seem to the most frustrating for brides and grooms.

"When it came to tuxedo rental shops and bridal shops it came to orders not coming in on time, problems with alterations and general customer service," said Hicks.

Tracy Moore with Lucy's Bridal in Carmel says brides should do their homework before walking in to try on gowns.

"Shopping for wedding gowns can be very overwhelming so I like to have a bride narrow down her silhouettes first, which means the style of gown she is choosing. There are just about five or six actual silhouettes of gowns whether it is a ball gown or trumpet style," said Moore.

Remember, no one likes a "bridezilla"- so if you need help and can afford it, hire a wedding planner. Look for someone with experience and don't be shy to call the planner's references.

Bridal shops, tuxedo rental and wedding planners all made repeat appearances on Angie's Lists' "Most Complained about Categories" list for 2011.

Grades on Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, are based on overall experience, price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism.

Common complaints with bridal shops/tuxedo rental:

  • Issues with ordering
  • Poor customer service
  • Problems with alterations/measurements

Common complaints with wedding planners:

  • Contract disputes – agreed upon services were not honored
  • Planner was unresponsive
  • Deadlines were not met

Angie's List talked to highly-rated wedding professionals who say managing expectations and a little pre-planning will help you as the big day approaches.

Angie's List Tips: How to get quality wedding service

  • Work with a reliable company: Look for someone with experience in providing services for numerous weddings. Is the company helpful and professional? Check review sites such as Angie's List and ask for recommendations from family and friends.
  • Develop a budget: Weddings can be costly. It's important to develop a budget before you talk with vendors. A good reputable company will map out a plan to meet your price point. In addition, you'll get better customer service if you are up front about your budget, rather than wasting time trying on dresses or visiting venues you can't possibly afford.
  • Read the fine print: Before you sign anything, ask and make sure you understand deposits, fees, terms, conditions, store policies, etc.
  • Do not pay in full: Put down the minimum deposit on a credit card and stretch out the rest of the payments until your order is complete. Pay with a credit card, so you can file a claim dispute if necessary.
  • Document everything: Your best defense in case something goes wrong is documentation. From phone calls to emails – keep a record of who you talked to and when.
  • Don't delay: Don't wait until the last minute to hire vendors. Once you have researched and found reputable companies to work with, make and effort to communicate them about your plans. The best professionals typically book up far in advance.