You spent a year planning your big day and thousands of dollars along the way. Your flowers were beautiful, the food exquisite, and your Wedding day could not have been better. What was most important is that your elderly grandfather was there to be a part of the memories. Unfortunately, while you loved the photographer, you never bothered to ask for any type of business information when contracting them. Now you realize the “great deal” you received was because they were not licensed or insured, and you never received your photos of your special day.
This may sound like a one of those extremely rare occurrences but it can happen all too often, and even just once can be devastating as you can never recreate that moment in time. In the past twelve years I have heard too many stories like these. Unlicensed venues close days before Weddings and couples lose up to $20,000 in deposits. Wedding dresses and keepsakes are lost by preservation companies and sometimes the person contracted does not even show up. While legitimate businesses may sometimes run into trouble, they are usually responsible enough to have a back-up plan. The chances are greater when the person you are paying is not invested in running their business.
The Wedding Industry, as a whole, is not regulated. Just because a wedding business is on a preferred list does not guarantee they meet these requirements. Unlike other professions that require licensing and insurance, many people can practice a trade without investing in the paperwork to protect themselves, personality property, or your guests. Individual states will also vary as to the requirements and there are often some loopholes which many people will take advantage of.
Some couples have questioned when a venue shows diligence in confirming wedding professionals are licensed and insured. Outside of the Wedding industry, you would never go to a doctor who wasn’t licensed to practice medicine, dine in a restaurant without a health permit or liquor license, or hire a lawyer who was not licensed to practice law. Why would you spend money for one of the most important days of your life with someone who does not even take the time to invest in their business?
There are a few basics of why your wedding professionals should be licensed and insured. Anyone who is taking responsibility for the safety of you, your guests, or your property needs to be insured. Why? Life happens. People may get hurt and damage may occur to the venue or personal property. If you hire someone who is not licensed and insured you may also have no way for recourse. Furthermore, anyone who is business savvy and cares about themselves as well as their clients should do this without question.
Here are a few tips to help protect yourself and save a lot of headaches.
Ask to see a copy of their business license. Each state is different as to how they arrange and issue licenses but they should have a printed copy. Some cities may also require an additional license. All of this should be current. You can also check online with many states to confirm if they have the proper paperwork. A business license demonstrates that your potential wedding professional is committed to their business as well as you, the client.
Make sure your officiant is licensed to perform the ceremony. In Las Vegas, the Clark County Clerk’s Office is very diligent in monitoring this to make sure that couples are protected. You would not want to find out years later that the person who performed the ceremony was not licensed and never filed the paperwork.
Ask to see a copy of their insurance policy. This can be a little awkward to ask, but any wedding professional should be ready and willing to provide this information. Again, this is an investment in themselves and covering you for any potential personal injury or loss.
Check with the local Better Business Bureau. Remember, you can’t file a complaint if they do not have a business.
Ask for references from other businesses and clients. In the age of technology, reviews are readily available. With a newer business this may be more challenging but you should also see if this person has worked with other professionals. While this does not address the issue of business license and insurance, a good reputation is usually attained by someone who makes sure they have covered all bases.
Once you have reviewed this information for your wedding professionals, it is also suggested you look into wedding insurance. Just as with auto insurance, travel insurance, and the plethora of other types of insurance policies, wedding and event insurance covers you for a variety of worse case scenarios . It normally costs less than $200.00 and can definitely come in handy for a variety of things that can happen. For more information on wedding insurance, visit the knot.com for information on Wedding Insurance 101.