How to avoid 5 common wedding rip-offs

Your wedding day is only going to happen once — at least that is the plan — so the instinct can be to ignore the costs and try to make everything just perfect. Indeed, the average 2017 wedding in the U.S. cost $33,391, according to The Knot website.

While stretching the budget might make sense for such a special occasion, you don’t want to get scammed in the process. To avoid such a sad fate, watch out for these five rip-offs:

1. Counterfeit dresses

Discovering that a dress is a counterfeit is sure to ruin a bride’s big day. One common scam involves a dress — particularly one ordered online — being passed off as a high-quality designer product. Instead, what arrives is a knock-off made from inferior materials and construction.

So, look at the label. There are federal requirements about what needs to appear on a label. Check out the FTC website for more information.

Also, consider buying at a brick-and-mortar shop, and be sure of the return policy before you order. Use a credit card so you will have some recourse if the shop is shady.

Speaking of wedding attire, you don’t have to pay full price. Check out: “Pay Less for the Perfect Wedding Dress.”

2. Vanishing vendors

People sometimes pose as DJs, photographers, florists — pretty much any of the outside contractors you might employ — then take your deposit and vanish. Make sure you check everyone out. Websites like The Knot, Weddingwire and the Better Business Bureau can help you with reviews for vendors in your area.

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Also, don’t forget word of mouth. If you loved the flowers at a friend’s wedding, ask her about the florist and if there were any behind-the-scenes problems. Also, ask your venue if it has a list of reputable vendors that often do business with the venue.

RELATED: Avoid these high-paying jobs with the worst divorce rates:

3. Bridal show shenanigans

Bridal shows can be overwhelming thanks to the variety of different products and services available. Be wary of signing up for giveaways. That honeymoon hotel stay might not include taxes, let alone the airfare to get you there and back.

Remember, once you hand over your name address and phone number, it might be fair game to be sold and resold to other people and businesses. Always read the fine print, understand the privacy policy and be careful about which businesses and people you share your information with.

4. Gift theft

Hopefully, you don’t have to worry about friends and family walking off with a gift. However, there will be a lot of other people around at the wedding and reception. Some venues — hotels, for instance — will have plenty of people unrelated to the wedding coming and going throughout the day. Avoid losses by placing the gift table far from the doors, and deputize a family member to keep an eye on it.

If you’re attending a wedding, check out: “31 Inspired Wedding Gifts That Keep on Giving.”

5. Home burglary

Placing a wedding announcement in your local newspaper is a rite of passage. It’s also a good way to broadcast you won’t be home that day. And if you include the dates of your honeymoon, you’ve given burglars a nice big window of opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to share the news of your big day, but make sure neighbors will keep an eye on your place for any signs of trouble. And before the honeymoon, remember to do all the usual things when taking a long trip, such as stopping the mail, newspaper and other deliveries. Also, let your credit card companies know when and where you’ll be traveling so your purchases from out-of-the-way places don’t prompt your lenders to shut down your cards.

Do you have any wedding day advice or cautionary tales to share? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.