When “Free” Isn’t Really “Free”

You didn’t forget to set your clocks forward, did you? If not, good for you! If so, do it now! Seriously, stop reading and go change them. Good now? Okay.

Today’s post is to regale a story that happened over the last week that I’ve been waiting to tell, as well as some more pictures from dress shopping.

First let’s back up to two weeks ago, where this story actually starts. As you might recall, I attended a second bridal show with a colleague and had a great time trying food and seeing wonderful sample displays. I also, of course, entered as many drawings as possible because hey – if I can win something as opposed to planning and paying for it myself, then I’m up for it. Or so I thought.

Throughout the following week, I received calls and emails from various vendors whose drawings I had entered, all saying the same thing, “we’d love it if you came and visited/met with/toured/sampled some time soon and we’re also offering X discount for everyone who talked with us at the show!” After the first show, I got a ton of these calls and emails so I got used to ignoring them unless I wanted to research further. To my surprise, I got a voice mail Friday night (March 1) where a vendor literally said, “okay, I’ll just come out and say it – you were drawn for a free rental of our venue and I’d like to talk to you about it.” Seems like if that was what you wanted to talk to me about, you might have said that the first time you called? But moving on…

I called the woman, who seemed very nice and explained to me all the venue had to offer. In all honesty, it’s beautiful and though the rooms are a tad on the small side, it would make our wedding wonderful. And hey – the whole rental was free! She also mentioned that I would receive $500 off a caterer, $500 off a photographer, and $200 off a wedding coordinator. This was wonderful and, quite frankly, something you always hope for but never expect to happen when you enter those drawings. I was told I had to have a licensed caterer, but I figured I could make it work. The only apparent catch at the offset was that I needed to decide over the weekend because according to the venue owner, the show wanted to announce the winners soon and they were pressuring her to select a winner. But she couldn’t give them a winner until the winner said yes, so the heat was on.

I then entered a weekend of hurried researching – what would food cost? How could we get everyone there? Would the rooms work? I decided that with some reworking of the budget, I could afford more for catering and it was doable to have a venue 20 miles from home (even though I don’t own a car). I started getting my hopes up and began thinking I would really be getting married in the locations I saw in the photos.

At some point, I realized that I needed to see some sort of sample contract so I knew what details I was getting into. I noticed in the contract that I was required to have a licensed wedding coordinator, so I emailed the owner to ask about that. It was her reply that unraveled all of my hopes. Not only did she tell me that yes, I was required to have a licensed coordinator, but she also told me that if I accepted the offer of a free venue rental, I was also required to accept the caterer in the package (I had their food at the show – not good at all, and even with the discount, WAY out of my budget), the photographer in the package (great photos, but not in my budget), and the coordinator (of which I was not going to use in any way because of my FSIL and two coworkers who want to help me day-of). That’s a pretty big catch that she seemed to “forget” when she first told me about the drawing. I realized, sadly, that this would not happen and I had to decline. I cried, I sulked, I was upset – then I got over it. I should’ve realized it was too good to be true, but with most wedding things, they prey on your emotions and dreams to get you to commit before you’re ready.

The last piece of this story is just crap sprinkles on a poop cupcake. If you remember back to the beginning of this ordeal, I was told I had to decide over the weekend (by noon on Sunday) if I wanted to accept the offer or not. This was because the show needed to announce the winners since “the community wants to know” (as if they’re debutantes being displayed at a ball!) and she wanted time to get another winner if I declined. Well, I declined Sunday morning and received an email on Friday from the show announcing the winners of various big drawings at the show. Guess which drawing wasn’t announced in the email? That’s right. Mine. So now I’m left with two opinions:

  1. The venue didn’t actually need to tell the show who the winner was at a certain time, they just wanted a quick decision (this is a tactic many venues will employ to pressure you into deciding).
  2. They did need to notify the show, but didn’t take it that seriously (as evident by waiting five days to give me the reason for calling and the announcement not being included in the email), which would also mean they run a poor ship.

Either way, this is all to tell you that free doesn’t always mean free. It usually means catches, contracts, and extra money you hadn’t planned on. I’m not saying that free drawings always turn out poorly. Sometimes they’re just perfect and fit right into your plans. But other times they don’t – so save yourself the emotional roller coaster and like always, keep logical, keep sane, and keep grounded. It’s the only way you’ll make it out alive!

Alright – different topic – more dress shopping! Yesterday I went to another David’s Bridal (in Tulsa, this time) with my FSIL and FMIL to try on more dress types and of course, my favorite, so they could see it in person. Below are some photos of the “nos.” You’ll see my favorite sash of all time making a special appearance.

This actually wasn’t a bad dress, but in person it seemed like the horizontal lines were not doing any favors for me
This dress was absolutely beautiful, but it’s difficult for me to do straps. It is a very sweet and romantic flowy thing, though!
I loved the lace on this – flowery without being too much so – but A-lines don’t give my body anything, so it’s another no.