Seven Tips for Planning Your Perfect Wedding

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rebecca Harpster
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

Weddings can be very expensive, so it’s understandable that couples want everything to go according to plan!

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy. Weddings have many moving parts: planners, venues, officiants, caterers, cakes, DJs, dresses and tuxedos, limos, photographers and more. No wonder they’re so expensive! Things can go wrong for a few reasons; honest mistakes are inevitable, but there are also dishonest individuals and businesses that will wreak havoc on your special day.

You can avoid the latter by always doing your research on to find a business you can trust, and considering the following advice:

  1. Exercise restraint at wedding expos. At a wedding expo, you might be presented with one-day deals or discounts for advance payment. Watch out for high pressure sales tactics, read all contracts carefully, and make sure to get three estimates for anything before signing on the dotted line. Keep a level head and don’t act on emotion!
  2. Find the perfect venue. The venue is usually the most expensive part of a wedding. Make sure to visit many locations and get multiple estimates so you can compare costs and amenities. Ask questions! Can you bring your own alcohol or caterer? What’s the parking situation? Who is responsible for flowers and decorations? Know if there are unexpected costs such as “plate-splitting”, “cake-cutting” or “corkage” fees. There may be fees beyond the cost-per-person, gratuities and room rental. If you’re hiring your own caterer, do your research at to find one you can trust. Read the contract very carefully before signing.
  3. Get down with a great DJ. In 2016, more than 150 complaints were filed with BBB nationwide about musicians and DJs. Complaints include being charged unexpected fees and late appearances. Ask for references from friends and family and do your research on; you shouldn’t just rely on a website, demo tape or phone conversation. Ask who will actually perform at the reception and get a written commitment from the band or musician, including the amount of time they will play and costs to extend the time the night of the event. Work with the DJ ahead of time on what songs you want them to play.
  4. Do your research when buying an outfit. Look up bridal shops at to see their rating, complaint history, and reviews from past customers. In 2016, consumers nationwide filed nearly 500 complaints about bridal shops. The leading causes of complaints were issues with repairs and alterations, refunds and exchanges, and guarantees. Make sure to give yourself enough time for the shop to order the gown and then alter it. Ask about any hidden fees. The same goes for grooms buying or renting a tuxedo.
  5. Ride in style. Consumers nationwide filed more than 600 complaints with BBB on limousine service businesses in 2016. The leading cause for complaints was poor service, and many consumers complained that limos showed up late or not at all. You should have a written contract that includes the hours of service, required fees including gratuities, maximum capacity allowed and amenities of the vehicle. The service should also be licensed and insured – you can check that they have the required TCP license at
  6. Be careful when choosing a photographer. Your wedding only happens once, and you want to make sure you’ll get the pictures so that you can preserve the memory. Many couples have complained of photographers and videographers that never deliver photos or hold them hostage for extra money. Consumers nationwide filed more than 850 complaints on photographers and videographers with BBB in 2016. The most common cause for complaint was receiving the pictures months after the event – or sometimes never! Consumers also complained about late photographers and poor quality photos. Get everything in writing: time, price, timetable for getting the pictures and whether they’ll be edited. Read the fine print and make sure there aren’t any hidden fees.
  7. Consider insurance. In case something goes wrong, wedding insurance can save you thousands of dollars. It’s also wise to pay with a credit card, as they offer more protections than debit cards and cash. Before making any purchase, know the refund policy, ask about any extra fees, and read the contract carefully and keep a copy after signing. A wedding planner can help simplify many of the above steps, but they come with their own cost! Do your research on and talk to multiple planners before making a decision.

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting