Thursday, January 12, 2012

5+02 Thursday Tips: Avoiding Hidden Wedding Costs*

It's all those pricey extras that slide in under the radar. We've got some insider secrets for avoiding those little-known financial pitfalls and sticking to your wedding budget.

1. Postage Stamps
Why it's hidden: Stationers don't advertise the shipping costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler (read: cheaper) invites.
The cost: Oversized, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often run you as much as $2 each to mail.
How to avoid it: Skip the fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, which can bulk up quickly and cost a lot more than you bargained for. 

Photo by Lang Thomas Photography

2. Wedding Dress Alterations
Why it's hidden: Wedding dresses are pretty pricey and stores don't want to scare away clients by listing alterations as part of the total cost.
The cost: A simple hem can be less than $100, but completely rebuilding a bodice or moving zippers can send the price soaring. 
How to avoid it: Ask about what the store charges for every alteration you may need before you purchase the gown. If it's too much, don't be afraid to take your dress to a less expensive seamstress to have alterations done.

Phtoto by Todd Pellowe
3. Photo/Video Overtime
Why it's hidden: Your wedding photographer and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, they'll charge per hour.
The cost: Starting at $250 per hour
How to avoid it: When planning the day, factor in extra time for getting dressed and taking photos. You'll get a realistic sense of how long everything should take. Refer to this itinerary when booking your photo/video vendors.  

Photo by Todd Pellowe
4. Welcome-Bag Delivery
Why it's hidden: Most hotels don't factor in a welcome-bag delivery fee when you block rooms. And they may fail to mention the rate unless you ask -- they'll just add it to your final bill. Inquire within; they may even charge you a fee for holding the welcome bags if you drop them off before the guests arrive!
The cost: Up to $7 per bag
How to avoid it: During the booking process, ask about the hotel's policy on receiving and delivering welcome bags to guests' rooms. It may be free or cheaper if they hand the bags out at the counter as guests check in. If you don't want the extra charge, you can distribute them at the rehearsal dinner.

5. Taxes
Why it's hidden: Even though these aren't exactly hidden -- we all know that there are taxes on almost everything -- most couples don't think about how much they'll end up owing during the planning process.
The cost: This will depend on the total amount of money you're spending as well as the location of the event (taxes vary in different areas).
How to avoid it: There's no getting around paying taxes, but paying the entire bill in one lump sum can help lower the overall price, especially in the winter when vendors have fewer weddings to cover their bills.
6. Cake-Cutting Fee
Why it's hidden: If you use the cake provided by your reception site, the charge is typically wrapped into the cost. Going with an outside baker can jack up the price. Why? Because your venue's workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes. This means more work for their staff!
The cost: From $2 to $5 per guest
How to avoid it: Go with the site's cake baker. Don't worry: They'll likely be able to work with your vision. If you're set on a particular cake baker, then call your venue and find out what the fee is before you sign a contract.

Photo by Adam Dehaven Photography
7. Gratuities
Why it's hidden: Many couples often think that the "service charge" is a tip for the event staff when it's actually an additional fee that the catering halls charge. For what? To cover their own cost for hiring servers.
The cost: Typically 15 to 20 percent of the event's total food and drink fee
How to avoid it: Once you get the proposed fee, add the service charge percentage so it's already accounted for before the event. The last thing you want is to get hit with an unexpectedly huge bill that just about breaks the bank.

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