A wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a couple's life. But sometimes, it turns into a nightmare because of creative and sometimes elaborate scams that can strip brides of thousands of dollars.

Crooks are capitalizing on brides' emotions during the wedding planning process. And the scams range from fake vendors, to no shows. But, you can protect yourself.

For over 28 years, Bonnie Jackson, owner of Patina, a bridal and formal boutique in Roanoke has been helping to make brides beautiful on their big day. She's heard it all, but recently she's been hearing about one of the many bridal scams gaining popularity.

"Our customers come in and tell us horror stories about getting a dress that they thought was one thing and it came in and it was nothing like that," Jackson told Your Hometown News Leader.

The bait and switch tactic is just one of the scams soon to be brides face. In other, more serious cases, brides actually lose money to non-existent businesses or businesses they already paid close their doors. Wedding planners say brides beware and do your homework, lots of it.

"You could spend hundreds of hours looking for the right vendor for you," Michele Robb, a local wedding planner told WDBJ7. "That's one thing that having a wedding planner, because of course we don't have to do that research because we know them from our experience but if you're going to do it yourself, you have to put in a lot of hours."

The number one rule, according to events coordinator Stephanie Dasch, is knowing your vendors and read the fine print.

"Working with a professional is always going to be helpful. So, somebody that actually knows the person as an individual, looking at the details of the contract." "Step back, read the details, line by line and make sure that both of you are on the same page," said Dasch.

Brides can also take advantage of testimonials, ratings and personal referrals. A wedding is an investment, and the more research and leg-work you put in now, the more likely, your special day will picture perfect.