Wedding Industry Kickbacks & Hidden Fees Are Busting Your Budget!
56,000 couples will get married in Virginia each year, just one state! The average wedding budget is $29,000, this means the wedding industry in VA alone produces an estimated 1.6 billion dollars each year. With this much revenue exchanging hands, why is there little to no regulation in the wedding industry? It’s truly fascinating. There is no one regulating thousands of wedding vendors to make sure they are not committing frauds, scams or just claiming they are professionals when they have little to no ability to provide service at even a basic level. When planning a wedding a couple will likely invest the largest amount of money they have ever spent together as a couple. This is a huge investment that brides & grooms rarely realize how much they are risking. So, who is protecting the couples against this risk? Fair Practices Venues are changing the way the wedding industry works by refusing to accept kickbacks and refusing to refer vendors who put weddings at risk.
How are Fair Practices venues changing the wedding industry?
- No hidden fees – Fair Practices venues protect the couples wedding investment with honest and transparent fees. Why book a venue that is secretly forcing vendors to pay kickbacks in order to work there, when you can book a venue with an honest fee structure? Fair Practices venues respect the incredible value professional vendors provide to the overall success of the wedding. They know you can’t provide a excellent wedding experience without professional, qualified vendors. A venue that is hiding fees from clients is perpetrating the ultimate betrayal of trust. From the beginning they are duping clients into booking their venue based on false fees. Watch out for venues that force you to hire certain vendors or strongly encourages you to hire certain vendors by enforcing a fee if you don’t hire from that list. Many times those vendors have agreed to pay the venue 10% to 20% of their booking fees. Most wedding industry businesses can’t afford these fees so they either boost their contracted fees ONLY for couples who book that venue, or just raise their rates all together. Either way it’s costing the couple more money and could decrease the couples overall satisfaction in the wedding. Consider this, if a vendor is being referred because they are willing to pay kickbacks or bribes and this is securing their place on the referral list, are these vendors as likely to work hard to earn your business and perform their hearts out? No, the venue is selling you to whomever will pay, not to the business that is most qualified.
- Vendors Must Be Licensed & Insured – All vendors working at Fair Practices venues are required to have a business license (either a prof. license or state registration/tax id#) and liability insurance. This one small protective measure ensures that amateur, unqualified vendors are not able to take jobs away from qualified, professional wedding vendors. This policy reduces liability and risks to your venue, vendors and wedding guests. Small business owners may be required to have a state issued business license to have a business back account, to get their liability insurance and if they have over $10,000 per year in revenue. State policies vary and there are many ways to get around having a state issued business license or tax id/EIN number. We feel strongly that this is vital to helping us distinguish qualified, serious, accountable professionals from scammers and amateurs. Please make sure you ask your wedding vendors for their proof of insurance and tax id# before booking.
- Properly manage vendor relationships – On average a wedding venue will book 35 to 50 weddings each year. A typical wedding will require 10 vendors to provide essential services, creating about 350 to 500 wedding jobs each year. With this many jobs created there is a responsibility to make sure those jobs are going to qualified wedding industry professionals. Venues that do not have a management system in place with simple policies regarding the qualifications and expectations for vendors who work at their venue – are allowing scammers, amateurs and unqualified vendors to access those jobs. This puts professional wedding industry providers, proven businesses owners, capable and qualified businesses out of business. It also creates far more risk for the couples booking these carefree and careless venues. The venues that do not manage their vendor relationships are unnecessary risks. We understand that venue owners are busy and may not be able to manage their vendor relationships. VAWENetwork.com is has a database of wedding industry business background checks. One easy location to view the real work history of a wedding business before a venue refers them and before a couple hires them. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how your venue can tap into this vendor management system and reduce the liability unprofessional vendors are bringing to your venue.
- Referrals based on skill not kickbacks – Many venues have preferred vendor lists. The consumer assumes these lists are based on the ability of those vendors. Once a venue decides to charge the vendors kickbacks to work at the venue, many of the professionals refuse to participate and drop off the preferred vendor lists. Often less qualified vendors are added to the preferred vendor list based on their willingness to pay the fee not based on their ability, qualifications, professionalism or work history.
- They have honest and fair contracts and policies – Every weekend I have complaints from wedding vendors and couples who didn’t read the entire contract and found out the venue they booked has lots of exclusions or policies that restrict the couple and ensure loss of deposits or extra fees. Most venues have detailed contracts with policies that protect and safeguard weddings.
- Educating Couples – Fair Practices Venues take an active role in educating and guiding the couples, informing couples of wedding industry scams and how to avoid them. If a wedding venue does not have a system in place to educate couples they can refer the couple to Wedding In A Box, once couples are involved in our network we take time and effort to educate and guide the couples.
- Proper Zoning & Permits – there are many ways to risk the investment of engaged couples, one of the worst scenarios includes venues who are booking weddings even though they are not legally allowed to host events on their property. All venues should be able to show you their occupancy and special use permits. You can also call your local county to make sure your wedding venue has proper zoning.
- Cover Ups – Fair Practices venues work with hundreds of vendors each year. On the occasion that the venue owner learns of a vendor violating contracts, no showing a wedding, inappropriate, unprofessional or unsafe behavior the venue takes steps to document this and report the issues in the vendors business background check. Training and mentoring can be provided to the vendor for free through VAWEnetwork.com. But when a venue knows that a vendor is unsafe, unprofessional or breaking their contracted obligations and the venue covers up or ignores these violations they are allowing this vendor to continue the destructive behavior to unsuspecting clients. Reporting this allows us to be aware of vendors with a history of risky behavior and offer to help them develop better business skills.
A venue that is only concerned with booking a wedding and ignores the rest of the wedding process helps place the couples investment at risk. Please make sure you are working with Fair Practices wedding venue owners, as they are taking the extra effort to increase professional excellence at each wedding and reduce the hidden fees that bust our couples wedding budgets! Find venues and vendors who are transparent with their fees and policies, just visit our venue gallery to find an amazing selection of Fair Practices Venues. Or call Didi Russell, professional wedding nerd, I am happy to help you find Fair Practices venues and vendors in your area!
Enjoy you time as an engaged couple! It should be the most exciting, romantic time of your life.
Wedding Industry Kickbacks & Hidden Fees Are Busting Your Budget! – if you have feedback please post your comments below.