On the heels of Valentine’s Day, there are likely many new brides-to-be among us. According to diamond retailer James Allen, 43 percent of millennials consider Valentine’s Day as the best day to pop the question. Still basking in the glow of their new engagement, many couples are surprised that family and friends immediately expect them to have chosen a date for the wedding. The pressure is on to start planning the big day right away.
The quickly applied pressure to start planning isn’t the only eye opening moment for many couples. Over time, weddings have evolved from simply a ceremony of “I Do’s” to an elaborate event that most couples don’t fully realize until they are in the thick of it all. With more pressure and influences from society, many brides-to-be are looking to wow their guests, while also trying to stay within budget.
According to the latest Real Weddings Study conducted by the Knot, couples are spending more than ever on their big day, with the average wedding cost rising to over $35,000. From the venue, to the caterers, to the DJ, to the dress – the total adds up quickly! With so many different parts to plan and so little time to make it all happen, brides are taking their efforts online for more convenient methods of research, planning and communication.
The perks of being able to use today’s technology to plan a wedding are many, however there are three key trends that might affect the way brides-to-be plan and shop for their special day that could possibly put them at risk of being scammed.
Unique Guest Experiences
With endless wedding ideas available at the click of a mouse, couples are presented with more opportunities than ever to impress guests. Photo booths, hookah lounges, surprise musical numbers and more are on the rise—though this comes at an unprecedented cost. The Knot reports that cost per guest in 2016 was $265, compared to $194 in 2009.
Understanding the desire to create an unforgettable and unique experience, vendors often use giveaways as marketing tactics, prompting site visitors to enter their email for a chance to win free services or a free honeymoon. Unfortunately, this presents an opportunity to scammers looking to take advantage of couples looking for free perks. Posing as a legitimate vendor, cybercriminals could gain access to personal information such as credit card info, passwords, bank account numbers and more. Carelessly entering online giveaways could leave brides-to-be susceptible to online phishing scams.
Perfectly Personalized Weddings
There are millions of online inspiration boards dedicated to weddings, many of which feature links to site that offer do-it-yourself solutions for customized decor. More and more brides are opting to personalize their weddings, offering guests a peek into the couple’s unique love story. In addition to creative ideas for all the details, wedding-planning boards also offer tips on where to shop online to get the best discounts on craft and paper supplies. While well-intended, this can lead consumers to illegitimate sites that lure them in posing as well-known brands, infecting their computers with malware or tricking them into purchasing counterfeit goods. You think you’re getting that designer cake cutter set for half the price, only to realize it is counterfeit after you have already paid the price.
Smartphone-Powered Wedding Planning
Smartphones have enabled brides-to-be to accomplish so much from the palm of their hands. Wedding planning resources made for mobile are abundant, making it easy for bride or groom to quickly check out a vendor on a review site or easily browse social media sites for inspiration. In fact, 90 percent of couples report using their smartphone to help plan their wedding.
With increasing dependency on connected devices, many couples are unknowingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams. The most popular mobile wedding planning activity is browsing for the perfect wedding dress. Traditionally, most brides go to a boutique to try on dresses with family and loved ones, but with the overall cost of weddings increasing each year, today’s modern brides are going online to shop for their dream designer dress. While legitimate, brand name wedding dresses can be found online, brides-to-be need to be careful to avoid finding themselves at the mercy of brandjackers looking to sell counterfeit wedding and bridesmaids dresses.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid being scammed by online counterfeits before walking down the aisle:
- What is the reputation? Is the site or seller mentioned on any of the scam warning sites? Do a search for ‘vendor+scam’ and see what comes up.
- Check the site. Pay close attention to the website name in the address bar. Often fraudsters will purchase a misspelled “brandname.com” a technique known as “typosquatting,” to divert traffic to counterfeit e-commerce sites or even adult sites.
- If it’s too good to be true, that’s a red flag and consumers should be extra vigilant.
- Returns policy? Reputable sites spell that out for you up front.
Advances in technology and access to a number of wedding planning apps have allowed couples to be more hands-on and proactive in their wedding planning, but it is important to be aware of the risks involved. It is essential that couples stay vigilant when surfing the web for bargains, ideas or other wedding planning resources to avoid being scammed on their big day.