It's always a gamble to put a down payment on services not yet rendered, but since most vendors require substantial deposits to secure their talents, there's not much choice in the matter. Avoid scam artists or less than stellar workmanship by thoroughly researching musicians, florists, caterers, photographers, DJs and the like before cutting a check. Trustworthy vendors will happily supply a legitimate, diverse list of satisfied clients. Savvy brides should run for the hills from anyone who balks at providing this standard information. Ideally, the bride or groom will be able to visit the wedding site ahead of time to meet with vendors in person. If this isn't feasible for financial or other reasons, the wedding venue coordinator or a destination wedding consultant should be able to deliver a list of qualified vendors.