Making Sure Your Wedding
Service Providers are Legit
(04/11/2019) | Categories:
| Wedding Planning |
While you only need
one type of
wedding service provider (a celebrant) to make your
, to pull off a great wedding
requires a team of other providers
, each with
their own specialty.
Thanks to Australia's very strict laws around who can
marry you, it is easy to check whether your celebrant is
Checking out your other service providers to make sure
they are legit is a bit more complicated, but definitely
worth the effort if you want to not only avoid
disappointment on your wedding day, but ensure that they
are going to meet your expectations.
To protect yourself, and your precious wedding
budget requires doing your research and asking yourself
a few questions.
It seems that stories about wedding businesses that were
not legit pop up in the media with monotonous
regularity. Vendors who didn't show on the day, who
completely disappeared and were not contactable, or
whose performance was significantly below par feature in
I haven't been able to find anything equivalent for
Australia, but a recent report by Barclays Bank in the
UK should be enough of a heads-up!
- In the UK, one in six
(17 per cent) of those married in 2018 were victims
of a wedding scam
- Of those one in ten (11
per cent) were forced to cancel their wedding at the
last minute after realising they had fallen victim
to an elaborate scam
- Nearly one in six (15
per cent) fell victim on their actual wedding day.
- ‘Phantom’ photographers,
florists and wedding planners are the most common
- Shopping for discounts
and time saving deals has provided a lucrative
opportunity for scammers to exploit
- Falling victim not only
ruined their wedding day, but many couples shared
that it sparked a row with their partner.
Even if not a scam, finding out too late that your
chosen wedding service vendor is just not up to the job
is not something anyone would wish on you.
Is the business licenced or
Unlike the well-regulated trades, apart from food
businesses and those selling/service liquor, most small
businesses in the wedding service industry are not
regulated and therefore are not required to be licenced.
And sole trader businesses, partnerships, and trusts,
are only required to register a business name if not
trading under their own name. And it is not
mandatory to register an Australian Business Number.
Likewise, anyone can register a .com
domain name. But to register a .com.au or a
domain name requires proof of the
- com.au is intended for Australian
businesses, companies and incorporated bodies. Most
Australian businesses use this type of domain.
- net.au is intended for commercial
entities, such as companies (registered with
Australian Securities Investments Commission (ASIC)
and businesses (registered with state governments).
It is most often used by companies with an
information technology (IT) focus
So, basically, anyone can set themselves up as a sole
trader, set up a Facebook page, or even a .com website,
and go. However, if the business has some or all of the
following, it is a reasonable indication of a business
- An ABN (should be published on everything to do
with the business)
- A registered Domain Name (preferably a .com.au or
- A registered Business Name
- A Business Licence
Is the business insured
Any business operating in the wedding industry sphere
should, at minimum, have Public Liability Insurance.
Where you are dealing with a professional (your
celebrant), that person should also have Professional
What's the difference?
liability insurance can cover compensation
claims for injury or damaged to property caused
to a third party in connection to your business. For
example, if a customer slips and trips while on your
indemnity insurance can cover compensation
claims associated with providing
advice or recommendations to clients. For example,
if that advice has caused a loss.
Are Reviews and
Where possible, look for independent reviews and
recommendations. Look for consistency over a period of
time. And look for specific mentions of things that are
important to you.
Does the business have a portfolio?
Wedding Service Businesses who deal in visuals - decor,
styling, hair and makeup, etc should have be able to
show you photos that clearly display their work. Look
for breadth as well as depth as an indicator of
experience and of how flexible they are with different
Photographers and videographers should be able to show
you examples of how they have shot an entire event, not
just selected shots.
While cake makers and caterers should be able to show
you photographs that give you an overview of whatthey
produce looks like, nothing beats a taste test!
And where privacy of clients is an issue, such as with
celebrants, nothing beats a good look at their blog, and
a great discussion that explores breadth, depth, and
variety of the ceremonies they have officiated.
What about Professional Memberships
Most Wedding Service Business types have a relevant
professional association. Some of those associations
have strict membership requirements. Some may also
accredit members. For example, an Accredited
Professional Photographer is a photographer who doesn't
just claim to be a "professional" but earns that
title by successfully completing the rigorous AIPP
The wedding industry has a low barrier to entry. So you
can set up as a hobbyist in the blink of an eye. Legit
wedding service vendors are likely to hold professional
accreditations and memberships in industry-specific
associations. Belonging to an Association is an
indicator of commitment to and investment in the
industry, so membership is a good sign, but may
not necessarily be an indicator that a specific vendor
will meet your individual requirements, so it is best
not to rely on professional membership as a stand-alone
measure of quality.
And what about those "10 best xxxxx in zzzzz"? Take them
with a pinch of salt. Generally these are lists drawn up
by specific directories for which the business has paid
a significant annual advertising fee. That's not
to say they aren't great. But equally so, someone who
hasn't paid to be featured on that directory isn't
necessarily not as great!
Is it all too good to be true?
There's a lot of truth in the saying "If
it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"
. This particularly applies to price.
Fraudsters, or those with little experience wanting to
build a portfolio, will often lure people in with
heavily discounted prices. While price may pique your
interest, do your due diligence and check out everything
Does this person walk the walk as well as
they talk the talk?
With so many businesses advertising online, and the rise
in wedding-industry-focused coaching business, it is
quite easy to talk the talk convincingly. Only a
conversation in which the person you are talking to
responds to your wants, needs, and ideas, how they
answer your questions, and what evidence they can
provide of knowledge, skills, and creativity, will allow
you to gauge whether they can walk the walk as well as
they talk the talk.
Will this person/business work
well with the rest of the team?
Planning a wedding is not a solo enterprise. It is a
So it is important that your various
vendors work together as a team to achieve the best
outcomes. However, that doesn't mean that you need proof
that they've worked together before, or even that the
one business refers the others. But you do need to be
confident that each of your vendors is considerate of
others, has an eye on the bigger picture, and is
flexible. One very important question to ascertain is
whether the person you talk to is the person who will
actually do the job, and if not, what quality control
processes are in place.
What is my Gut Feeling?
Your gut (intuition) picks up signals that your
conscious brain may miss. So trust negative feelings
above all else, even if everything else seems to
But on, the other hand, don't let
liking the person over-ride other considerations.
Get Everything in Writing
Regardless of everything above, your best protection
is a proper contract that covers everything in