DO YOUR RESEARCH
Just because a vendor has a pretty facebook page with 10,000 likes doesn't make them legitimate.
What is their business name and is it registered? I can call myself Paul's Perfect Pop-up Weddings but that doesn't mean a thing. I need to register that name as a business. You can easily check a business name registration here:
(that's not the official govt site but it's easier to navigate)
Do they have an ABN? Every legitimate business needs an ABN
Do they have a website? While it's not a requirement the vast majority of professional business people will invest in a website, it's like a business card on the internet. Check it out – is it up to date? Does it look modern or old? Do all the pages & links work? In other words is it maintained?
Social Media – that's the easy one, anyone can start a Facebook page or open a twitter or Instagram account, look for recent & regular posts and old ones as well - how long have the been in business? How many likes to they have? (you can have too many - some people actually buy likes to boost their page)
look for comments on their posts – you can always contact other brides that way to see that they think – if there are no comments – why not?
Reviews – do they have reviews on their Facebook page? If not why not? Do they have any google reviews? A simple name search should bring up plenty of links & references if they have been in business for a while. There can of course be fake Facebook & fake Google reviews but it's relatively easy to spot those.
Meet with the vendor - while the majority of my brides book me without meeting (I've been around a long time) if you're unsure ask to meet your vendor and have a good chat about what you want and what they offer.
Do they have a business bank account? Any money you pay should be to the business name or if you pay via Paypal, the business email.
Do they have a business email? Websites usually come with an email facility, so a hotmail or gmail account doesn't really look that good, does it?
Are they cheap? Every bride is working to a budget and saving money on one thing means more to spend somewhere else – but beware the low cost option, the vendor who will “beat any price” usually isn't around all that long and while you can find different pricing in every area - you get what you pay for. “my wedding video was pretty average but at least it was cheap” said no-one ever.
It was mentioned on the ACA program that you can check to see if there have been any other complaints against a vendor by calling fair trading, I'm not sure if that's the case but if you have concerns, it might not hurt to try.
None of these things will guarantee that your vendor won't do the wrong thing but they will at least minimise the possibility of picking a bad one.
Remember, the vast majority of business's out there are horrified by the actions of these con-artists – in all likelihood the vendors you have chosen or will choose are professional and will do a great job – but it doesn't hurt to check does it.