What to Know
A wedding expert says 60 to 65 percent of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, making this wedding planning season.
The expert said the internet can offer a good starting point for ideas, but it's best to talk to someone in person before booking or buying.
Using a credit card and hiring a wedding planner could help save money in the long run, the expert said.
For many couples in North Texas, wedding planning season has officially started.
"About 60 to 65 percent of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine's, so this is the time of year when it's all coming together," celebrity wedding expert Donnie Brown said.
NBC 5 Responds caught up with Brown at the Dallas Bridal Show, where many brides-to-be get inspired.
But in the age of social media, many people take the do-it-yourself approach.
Brown advised to be careful, because pictures online can sometimes be deceiving.
"There's the millennials and they're shopping on Instagram. They're shopping on Pinterest. There's really no way of knowing the reputable companies versus the not-so-reputable companies," he said. "I have seen websites with pictures of my work on them."
Brown said to use social media as a starting point, but when it's time to book, put on your investigative hat and know who you're dealing with.
"Talk to other brides, look at reviews and make sure you know what it's going to taste like on your wedding day," Brown said. "Ask the bride, 'How did your cake taste.'"
Brown said some companies will bake the cake a week or two in advance.
"Have you ever had two-week-old cake? Kind of stale," he said. "Personally, I would rather forego a little beauty to get a lot more flavor."
"A bad caterer is not going to produce a good tasting. They're just not good," Brown said.
He said he believed it's important to have someone at the tasting with a culinary background. Have the best cook in the family sit down and try the food too -- their pallet may be more advanced.
"I'll sit in the tasting and I will critique every single thing on the menu. It's not personal to the chef. The chef wants you happy," he explained.
When it comes to the venue, Brown said a contract is a must.
Expect to put down a deposit to lock in a date. This protects not only the consumer, but the company as well.
"You're buying their date. Let's say you cancel your wedding two months out. They're never going to re-book that date. Think about how many clients have tried to book that date, but couldn't because you had it reserved," Brown explained.
Credit Card Is Key
Try to book or buy everything for a wedding, from the dress to the flowers, with a credit card.
And Brown said don't worry about racking up credit card debt.
"Don't rack up debt! Just pay at the end of the months. Plus, most credit cards these days have points miles. Get some benefit from this. This is one of the biggest expenses of your entire life," he said.
Brown said if a venue or caterer refuses to accept a credit card, that could be a red flag.
He said the majority of businesses out there are in it for the right reasons, and with a little extra homework on the consumer's end, everything should be smooth sailing.
Brown advised to consider hiring a wedding planner. It could save money in the long run.
He explained that he gets big discounts for brides all the time, because he has a lot of connections in North Texas and knows how to negotiate.