Getting married? Beware of hidden wedding expenses

BY DANIELLE BRAFF
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TNS

Your wedding day is approaching, and you’ve budgeted for the dress, venue, music, invites and photographer. But there are plenty of hidden wedding expenses that can pop up as late as the big day.

Major mass-market retailers sell bridal gowns that do not cost a fortune. Michelle Garcia wears a dress from The Limited.
(KIRK MCKOY/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS)

We spoke with wedding experts who exposed those tricky little costs, so you’ll have a beautiful walk down the aisle without financial fears tying you down.

Tipping
Why it’s hidden: You paid for your vendors months in advance, but nothing in the fine print told you about a tip. While a tip isn’t mandatory, it’s expected for good service, said Alison Phillips, president of Engaging Events by Ali.

The cost: If your wedding planner did a great job, you could tip 10 to 20 percent of the fee, or up to $500 at the end of the wedding. You could also tip your wedding ceremony officiant up to $100 if he went above and beyond. If your ceremony musicians did a fantastic job, you could give them $15-$20 per musician. Also optional is a tip for the band or DJ, which could be up to $25 per musician or $50-$150 for the DJ.

While those tips are optional, the tip for hair and makeup is expected, and it should be about 20 percent. The person who delivers the wedding cake and flowers should also be tipped $5-$10 per person.

Overtime
Why it’s hidden: Many couples decide to extend the wedding, but they’ll incur overtime charges from everyone working on the wedding: the venue, the music, the photographer, video, bar, transportation and more, said Cristina Verger, of Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production in New York.

The cost: It could be thousands of dollars for just 30 minutes or an hour of overtime.

“This is a very important item that should be well thought out on the onset of the planning,” Verger said. “If the couple feels that they would like their wedding night to last longer than the allotted time, it is best to buy overtime at the beginning of the planning stage, as it is often more negotiable.”

Fancy hard liquor
Why it’s hidden: You paid for a hard liquor package, or perhaps you decided to pay per consumption. But if the more-expensive alcohol is on display, your guests could choose a drink you didn’t plan for.

“You want to make sure the venue has removed any hard liquor you don’t want that resentful cousin or fun-loving friend with costly tastes to see, and run the risk of them ordering a 50-year-old scotch and you footing the bill,” said Ashley Douglas, owner and creative director of Ashley Douglass Events in New York. “It happens.”

The cost: Depending on how many people are ordering that top-shelf liquor beyond your package, it could be thousands.

Postage
Why it’s hidden: There are entire magazine spreads dedicated to invitation designs and save-the-dates. And let’s not forget about your thank-you notes. But did you consider postage?

The cost: The price of a first class letter is now 49 cents. Multiply that by the number of guests you have and the number of announcements and letters you plan on sending them, and this cost could add up quickly.

“Mailing the save-the-dates and invitations can cost a few hundred dollars,” said Camille McLamb, founder of Camille Victoria Weddings in Illinois.

Taxes
Why it’s hidden: Typically, you calculate the numbers for the big ticket items like the venue, caterer, dress, photographer and music … and you’re golden. But most people forget about the taxes, which can be a significant portion of the bill, depending on where you live, said Anja Winikka, director of education and industry for The Knot.

The cost: Tax and gratuity can add upward of 30 percent, which will throw many couples over budget, Winikka said.

Dress alteration
Why it’s hidden: You’ve budgeted for the gown, but you probably didn’t realize the hidden cost of the alterations, which is significantly higher than altering a regular dress, McLamb said.

Wedding gown alterations could include adding a different neckline, adding lace or beading, reshaping the silhouette or simply pulling in or taking out the dress — and tend to take two to three fittings over two to four weeks.

The cost: Between $300 and $500.

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