Last week, I called one of my couples to confirm details for their upcoming wedding. I was shocked when I got off the phone with him. It was just 10 days before the wedding and it turns out that his "wedding planner" was unreachable. She just bailed...and she took all the money that she was given to pay off the vendors. On top of that, this planner never even booked the venue for them. Fortunately, Hawaii is really filled with kind and generous folks who pitched in and made things happen for this couple. Kudos to Lanikuhonua, who after hearing of their situation, made an exception to allow their wedding to take place on their property at the last minute.
So how does one avoid this situation? First of all, rest assured that this kind of behavior is not common. But there are some simple safeguards you can take.
1. Check for references: Ask reputable venues if they are familiar with a vendor. Venues are particularly concerned about vendors because they vendors who are well mannered, be respectful on property and carry business insurance.
2. Check their affiliations: Is this vendor a part of any professional organizations? The big ones in Hawaii would be NACE (www.nacehawaii.com), OWA (www.oahuweddingassociation.com), MPI (www.http://mpialohachapter.org)
3. Check with other vendors: Hawaii is a small place and words gets around pretty quickly. If a vendor is taking advantage of their clients, it won't be long until most wedding professionals find out about it. So ask your other vendors if they are worked with your chosen vendors.
4. Find out how long your vendor has been in business: There is nothing wrong with a startup. Every one has to start somewhere. And you may be tempted by a "good deal" with a vendor who is getting their feet wet. But when it comes to reputation and trust, time says it all. Any company that carries years of experience will meet all of the previous 3 criteria with ease. Trust the experts who are time tested. Let the startups prove themselves to their family and friends first.