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Keeping that "special day" special: Preventing wedding scams

As nearly anyone who's ever tied the knot in the U.S. can tell you, most weddings aren't cheap.

According to The Wedding Report website, the average cost of a wedding is now around $25,200 -- before the honeymoon expenses. Given those costs, you can purchase insurance against nuptial nightmares like bad weather, illness, gift theft or even a last-minute change of heart by one of the spouses-to-be.

Many of those policies also protect against a growing problem: wedding fraud.

Some of those scams involve bogus photographers and videographers who never deliver the paid-for pictures or videos and then refuse to issue refunds. Similar problems can arise with fake florists, reception musicians or DJs who don't live up to expectations or fail to show up altogether.

And then there are situations like the one facing Speshelle and Tony Garcia. The Pasadena, California, couple were married a decade ago in a courthouse wedding, but decided to treat themselves to a real ceremony this year. They worked with a wedding planner, Rosetta Smith-Cooper, who helped them arrange a beachfront vow-renewal ceremony.

"She was very attentive and, you know, communicated very well," Speshelle told CBS affiliate KCBS TV -- "emails, phone calls, text messages, everything."

But then Smith-Cooper disappeared with the $5,000 meant for the wedding's vendors.

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"Due to an ongoing health issue unfortunately, I will not be able to move forward with your wedding on Sunday, Sept. 28th," Smith-Cooper emailed Garcia on Monday. "As per our contract I will provide a full refund of monies paid to date. If you would like me to locate a wedding planner that can step in please indicate so."

But when Garcia tried to salvage the wedding by contacting the intended vendors, she found out that none of them had ever been paid by Smith-Cooper.

"I contacted the photographer, I contacted the officiant and I spoke to them and I said 'Please, would you do this regardless of whether we get paid or not'," caterer Christina Mastikian said.

Fortunately for the Garcias, their caterers agreed to do what they could to help the wedding ceremony go forward, free of charge.

The Better Business Bureau advises brides and grooms, along with friends and family involved in the wedding, to stay observant and selective when choosing wedding vendors and planners.

Among the BBB's tips is to research your vendors and compare prices, then get all the details in writing. Also stay on top of the vendors in the weeks leading up to the event to ensure they're on budget and on schedule -- and consider purchasing wedding insurance.

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