It’s hard to believe that wedding scams are a thing. Unfortunately there are people and businesses looking to take advantage of vulnerable couples. There are different types of scams for different services. One example is online bridal shops selling counterfeit designer dresses. Other examples are wedding invitation scams, wedding planner scams, wedding photographer scams, etc. I will focus primarily on my area of expertise, videography. Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life. The last thing you want is to lose your money or to not receive your wedding video.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Avoid classified ads. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Thumbtack, and others are havens for scammers. I’m sure there are legitimate businesses who put up listings on those sites. However, there are enough unscrupulous people that it’s best to avoid them to minimize your risk. Craigslist Scam Ruins Couple’s Wedding Plans
REGIONAL & NATIONAL AGENCIES
There are many wedding agencies that operate regionally and nationally that proliferate sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot. They book hundreds of weddings each weekend and send out independent contractors, many of whom are brand new to the industry. Again, I filmed some weddings for a few of them as I was coming up.
A couple books the company without knowing who will actually film their wedding. They might not even learn who it is until the week of the event. Oftentimes the company scrambles to find a videographer to fill in days before the wedding. They’ll put up ads on Craigslist and other job sites to find someone. The couple also doesn’t know who is editing their film. The editor may even be located in another country to save the company on costs.
Coincidentally, Wedding Wire and The Knot, which merged in 2018 to form WeddingPro, got busted recently for scamming couples and advertisers.
I have first-hand experience in this matter. Prior to launching Luxe Filmography I worked as a contract videographer for a handful of wedding agencies. Two of them ended up being scam artists that ripped off hundreds of couples, videographers, and photographers. Read about them here:
Petit Four Films
Petit Four Films announces bankruptcy, leaving couples without wedding videographers
5 Star Production
Bride and Gloom: Wedding photography company vanishes after couples paid hundreds
5 Star Production was a mess. Someone close to the owner warned me that the company was about to vanish. I warned everyone I could. Here’s a Reddit thread detailing the situation:
A more egregious example of a company taking advantage is Copper Stallion Media. The owner refused to refund a grieving fiancé. His soon-to-be bride’s life was taken by a car accident. The resultant investigation uncovered the sheer depravity and corruption of the owner. He set up numerous wedding video businesses (and other businesses), scammed the customers, shut down the businesses, and started new ones. Read about it here: Wedding Company Denies Refund to Widowed Fiance.
Here are more cases of fraud:
- Lawsuit filed against venue owner for canceling weddings, pocketing money
- Wisconsin Wedding Videographer Doesn’t Show Up to Wedding
- N.J. Wedding Photographer Accused Of Scamming Dozens Of Couples
- Wedding Pictures Become Nightmare for Bride
FAKED SOCIAL PROOF
Sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot (WeddingPro) hand out awards for essentially just being a paid member. This is why you see many vendors display their “Best of Weddings” and “Couples’ Choice Awards” badges on their social media accounts. Some awards are obtained through vote stuffing. Various local magazines will award businesses with Best (niche) in (city). A business owner can just vote for themselves multiple times a day and win. I did this in 2021 and won 2nd place in Orlando Magazine’s Best of Wedding Awards – Best Videographer. I didn’t even have anyone else vote for me. If I cast a few more for myself I could have taken 1st place.
The focus of these awards is to get convinced to purchase expensive trophies and plaques to display in your office. I often get random emails from sites saying I won best videographer/business in Orlando and ask me to purchase some advertising package.
Reviews can be dubious, and often are. I saw a wedding video agency in Miami Florida open up shop, and in a couple of months already had well over 100 reviews. The reviews were very generic. Most likely the vendor paid a company on Fiverr or elsewhere to leave multiple phony positive reviews. Be wary of any company that acquires reviews quickly and in high numbers. Millions of those 5-star online reviews are fake; Here’s how to spot them
There are many instances where new companies with no portfolio will steal videos. They take them from other wedding filmmakers and present them as their own. They do this to impress potential couples into booking with them. The quality of their actual work is revealed when the couple receives their video. This is if they even get their video. In the worst case they don’t even show up to your wedding.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I don’t mean to discourage you by showing how easy it is for a wedding scammer to dupe potential customers. I just want you to be on alert as you search for a wedding videographer. Here are some tips that should help you weed out the riff raff:
- Get a contract in writing and review it before signing
- Pay with a credit card instead of a check or Venmo/Cash App
- Stay away from classified ads and regional/national agencies
- Ask your other vendors about them and check references
- Meet in person or on a video chat to establish trust
- Avoid vendors with free email addresses from gmail, yahoo, aol, etc
Armed with this information, you are better equipped to avoid wedding scams. Be sure to read my guide on Questions to Ask a Wedding Videographer. Stay safe out there!
MORE AWESOME BLOG POSTS!