Sunday, March 1, 2015

Five Hidden Wedding Costs

It was two days before the wedding. Pete was out with his friends who were already in town and I was sitting on the floor in the guest bedroom, putting together our thank you gifts for the bridal party. In the middle of stuffing gift bags, I got a text from our photographer with the balance. It included tax.

I wrote back, "Sounds great" or something similar, but in fact, it wasn't great. I don't know why it didn't cross my mind, but I didn't consider that we would have to pay tax. We had the money so it was fine, but two days before your wedding, you don't often have money to spare.

To help you plan ahead, I put together a list of five hidden wedding costs. Keep this list handy so you're not caught off guard when you're at the end of planning.


Five Hidden Wedding Costs

1. The priest (and other church personnel).
A week before my cousin's March wedding, it snowed. I was sitting in my grandma's room and it was really cold. "Text Erica and tell her to give the church a bigger donation so they will turn the heat on for her wedding," my grandma said. I did just that and my cousin replied saying she had already paid them quite a bit.

Paid? I wondered. Turns out, yes, you have to pay the church. That makes sense. Even if you attend church each week and give a weekly donation, you don't get to get married there for free. You pay the church. My cousin let me know you also pay the organist and the soloist (if you have music during your ceremony), the alter boy, and the liturgical assistant.

What I didn't know, though, was there is a "suggested gift" you give to the priest. And that suggested gift ... it's not really suggested. The day of the rehearsal dinner, the liturgical assistant came up to me to ask for the priest's gift. Good thing I brought it with me just in case.

2. Vendor meals.
I was talking to my friend Nicole before our wedding and told her we were planning on  having a band instead of a DJ. "You know you have to feed them, right?" Nope. I didn't know. You actually pay for a meal for every vendor who will be at your wedding. It's not completely mandatory, but it is customary. So your band or DJ, photographer(s), videographer(s) ... they all need to eat. We were lucky that our venue only charged us half price for vendors.

When you choose your band, remember that a nine-piece will cost more (for meals) than a three-piece. And when you give your head count to your venue, give your total guests (including you and your fiance) and then a separate count of vendors.

3. Service charges and tax.
The first venue we sat down at went over charges with us. As I was looking at the price sheet, I noticed a 21% service charge would be applied, plus 7% tax. This charge appeared all over. So in addition to calculating the price per plate and setting our budget accordingly, we also had to tack on nearly 30%. If you forget about this cost (or don't know it exists until your final bill), you'll have serious shock at the final price.

4. Alterations.
It's not that people forget about this. I don't think anyone actually thinks that you buy a dress and alterations are free. But I also don't think anyone knows the cost of alterations until they actually have to pay for them. To get a bridesmaid dress altered, I was told it would be $60 to move the hemline 1-inch. I figured the bride wouldn't be coming out with a ruler to measure, so I saved the $60. I did pay the $15 to put a bone in (it's basically a little strip of plastic down the front of your dress that you stuff in your bra so your boobs don't fall out when you lean over).

For my wedding dress, I was really lucky. Every dress shop told me I was "made for a wedding dress" meaning that my frame fit perfectly into a size, so the alterations on my dress were very minimal. I didn't need it hemmed at all and I didn't need it taken in either. I had cups put in to help me fill out the top, I had a belt sewn in, I had a bustle built. It only set me back $75, which was amazing, but the seamstress I used was incredible and runs a small shop in town. I know of dress shops that do alterations in house -- and charge 10% of the cost of the dress to do it if you pay on the day of order. If you wait until after, those shops will charge you per item (as most do) and it can cost you around 20% of your dress' price.

5. Delivery charges.
We used a preferred vendor for our cake and tied it into our wedding package. That means the company delivered our cake for free. They also didn't charge us for our tasting or cake stand. Our florist, however, charged us delivery for the flowers it dropped off at the church plus the petals and bucket it allegedly dropped at the venue. You know what? I never saw those petals and the bucket never appeared. I'm guessing they were dropped off and never made it to the ballroom, which is fine but we did pay for them to get there.

But keep these in mind when you're hiring vendors. If you want your florist to bring flowers to you and your bridesmaids at home, your fiance at a hotel, and your venue, that's three deliveries and three delivery charges. Try to consolidate drop offs and you can save a little bit of cash.

BRIDAL BABBLE: What hidden wedding costs did you not know about until you were planning?

1 comment:

  1. Great post.. another fee no one thinks about is tables and chairs for their venue... yes they may state they have them but are they the tables and chairs you want. The same thing with linens... one venue i worked with told the bride (who was an out of town bride) they did indeed have linens and the linens didn't come down to the floor.. they just covered the table top.