/ Money

Who foots the bill when things go wrong on your big day?

Sad married couple

Getting hitched shouldn’t have hitches.  And yet nearly one in five people married in the last five years had a problem with at least one service. But how many of us make the effort to complain?

Just two weeks before Ed and Anne tied the knot their caterer left the country. They’d spent around £1,700 on a hog roast for their guests. The day was saved by a last minute caterer stepping in.

But they’re out of pocket (and currently fighting their case) as a result of their runaway caterer. Ed told us:

‘Initially the caterer seemed fine. He’d worked the venue before, we’d sampled his food, it all looked good.’

‘He started being awkward about the menu but nothing extraordinarily odd; just a lack of concrete details and an unwillingness to get in touch. Then 13 days before the wedding he emailed us to say his business had ‘gone bump’ and he had left the country.’

Wedding woes from poor service

The couple immediately got in touch to ask for a full refund but heard nothing. They contacted the police and trading standards, in addition to writing a formal complaint to the caterer. They’ve also started civil proceedings.

While the majority of people are satisfied with their weddings, nearly one in five people (17%) are dissatisfied with at least one service on their big day.

People are most likely to be dissatisfied with the photographer (9%), the entertainment (8%) and the transport (5%). Catering problems, as Ed and Anne’s example shows, and issues with the gift list provider came in joint fourth with 4% dissatisfied with service.

The uncut wedding video

We’ve heard complaints about drunken photographers, disappointing DJs, late transport and cold food as our video shows:

And while Ed and Anne acted on their poor service, the majority of people who are dissatisfied with a service don’t bother to complain. Our research showed just one in five complained directly to the service provider, while 44% did not do anything. Well, we’ve just published some new advice on how you can complain to help you resolve any hiccups you encounter on your big day.

Have you attended a wedding which could have done with a helping hand on the service front? Have you hired a photographer who wasn’t up to scratch? We’re keen to hear your views.


When this Conversation topic first appeared today there was the tantalising promise of an “embed video” which, due to a glitch in the hitch, wasn’t there. Thanks for fixing the pics – perhaps not what we were led to expect but amusing, and instructive for those about to splash their hard-earned on a stylish do. I think bad photography is the worst nightmare because the pictures cannot be taken again and they have to last a lifetime and get handed down to later generations. Poor catering is another big let-down because everyone has such high expectations of a fabulous banquet – especially if it’s done at an expensive hotel or catering establishment. And the more exotic the transport – especially if horses or vintage vehicles are involved – the greater the risk of something going wrong, so a back-up plan is essential. Unfortunately, spending a lot of money does not guarantee success, but it might narrow down the chances of a complete disaster. I suspect that the engagement of a wedding planner is worth while as their experience should help to avoid the worst pitfalls in selecting suppliers. I’ve never been to a wedding yet where everyone enjoyed the “entertainment”. So long as the Best Man makes a cracking speech and has the hall in stitches the rest of it will be alright and everybody will go home happy [except the happy couple perhaps].

Very well spotted John. Apologies for the tease earlier – we got over excited!

I’m mid wedding planning at the moment and agree with you regarding people’s expectations of the day. We’re having a low-key affair – in a village hall, with simple catering and relying on friends to get us to and from the venue – for that very reason.

My mum is also well known for being very comfortable telling a DJ to turn the music down, so I won’t be having a DJ at our wedding to avoid this embarrassment 😉

I hope everything goes well for you.

You might be thinking otherwise, but don’t forget – it’s your mother’s Big Day.

Does this count? I think I really only had 1 problem with the wedding which I didn’t notice for about 7 years. I married the wrong woman.

The day itself, the photographer was a relation (my sister), so that went fine. The reception and meal was in a local carvery ( we booked out the whole place for most of day), so the food was excellent.

So as I said , just turns out I picked the wrong bride.

Charlotte, I hope all goes well for you on the day.

Getting the outfits, flowers and photographer right are vital for a successful wedding and posterity. There is a permanent record of all three when you show your children and grandchildren the photos. If the food is a letdown, provided you do not get food poisoning, you will eventually forget about it. The same applies to the music. Perhaps having some easy listening, Rod Stuart, Phil Collins, Rolling Stones, Elton, Guns ‘ Roses type stuff, and of course Abba to get everyone dancing, for the first couple of hours. When the elders start leaving you can play whatever you wish for the remainder of the night.

What spoilt recent formal weddings I have attended was the length of time the photographer takes and the extremely lengthy speeches. The photos are no better than years ago but perhaps are more imaginative – should this take longer – and the speeches are just longer, not better or more sincere. Too much hanging around for the guests.

William, I’m sorry you married the wrong woman. I don’t think wedding insurance covers that, especially if you did not realise for seven years.

Thank you.

My sisters wedding had lifesize cutouts of ABBA, lots of ABBA music, and I think at least one telegram from them, probably Bennie, he’s good like that.

It’s nice to know that Abba appreciate their current fans.

Nothing like Abba to get everyone dancing. I think Rod Stuart comes next. All the well oiled old boys singing and moving to ‘Do you think I’m sexy’ and everyone singing either ‘Maggie May’ or ‘Sailing’. Terrific, can’t wait for the next wedding.

Insider tip – do not assume that a venue’s “Approved Supplier” list is any recommendation of quality or reliability. In many cases, for a supplier to get onto a venue’s list simply involves paying an annual fee, often through booking a stand at the venue’s wedding fair.

If it is a condition that you do use the venue’s approved suppliers, try to ensure that both the venue and the supplier are jointly and severally liable for compensation. Otherwise there is nothing in this cosy little arrangement for you. Walk away.