When you’re getting married, there are a ton of items to make sure you have on your budget spreadsheet. The Dress, tuxes, cake, decorations, flowers, invitations, postage…the list could literally go on for an entire post. When I got married this time around, there were a few things that took me off guard. I’m happy to share them with you in hopes that it will help your budgeting efforts before you get to the “Uh-oh!” moments.
1. Venue Fees
Venues charge fees. And then they charge fees. And then they charge some more fees. When you’re booking, don’t just look at the cost of food, drinks, and renting the room itself. Ask about silverware fees. Ask about cake cutting costs. Ask about drink charges that will be applied even if a guest only drinks water the entire night.
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to not use the valet and therefore avoid those fees. In most cases, the venue mandates you use this service. And don’t be shocked when you find out there’s a fee to set each plate for dinner. When you’re paying the bill at the end of the night, know that most places will already have a 18% gratuity worked into your final total. The wait staff at venues like this gets paid much, much more than your average waiter or waitress. That makes this the one time I’d advise not going above and beyond the gratuity already worked into your bill.
2. A Venue is Still Normally Cheaper Than DIY
After I found out about all those little fees, I ran my numbers again. While I wasn’t thrilled about the extra little charges, I was relieved to see that it was still cheaper to use the venue as opposed to doing it all ourselves. The fee to set the silverware at dinner was still cheaper than renting it, or even buying faux plasticware. Our decor budget was practically non-existent as the venue was already gorgeous without us having to become Martha Stewart. The food was expensive, but still ended up being cheaper than bringing in a caterer. (Plus it was heavenly delicious.)
The best part for me was that not only was it cheaper, but we also didn’t have to go through the stress of ironing table cloths or hauling in chairs and tables or running back and forth to the craft store to make things that would never look as cute as they did on Pinterest. The relief of that stress was amazing.
A hidden bonus was that because we booked our ceremony and reception at the same venue, we pretty much got a wedding planner for free. He was our contact at the venue, and made sure the timing of everything went perfectly. He made sure I stayed on top of everything he needed me to do, like pick out flowers and get a head count. I guess his cost was probably worked into the overall rental of the space, but I viewed it as a nice perk.
I had my dress budget all figured out. And I was thrilled when I came in under it. Then the alterations department gave me a quote, and it was more than 1.5 times the amount I spent on the dress itself. I chose to forgo the raising of the hem (the most expensive fix,) but a smarter option might be to make friends with a seamstress/tailor long before you say “Yes!” The kind of friend that you actually care about and hang out with, and would be willing to donate their crazy expensive work to your wedding when the time came.
If it’s too late to build up that kind of personal friendship, or you just feel dirty and manipulative about it, budget in at least $600 USD for the alterations. Preferably more. I’d rather have you over-prepared with money left over than standing there in the dressing room, already in love with the gown you’re wearing, with your jaw on the floor. Because that’s exactly what happened to me.
Budget for Red Meat.
Overall we stayed well within our wedding budget. There were those couple of times I wanted to cry. When I thought we’d have to go into debt to have this wedding, in which case I didn’t want to get married. (Yes, there were some melodramatic bride moments.) But we pulled it off. We ended up coming in well under budget. And my number one tip to help you do the same thing is this: budget like every single person is going to order steak. They won’t, of course, and then most of those little shockers will be absorbed by the price difference between a vegetarian meal and red meat.
To wrap up this post, I’d like to thank all the vegetarians out there. I, and my wedding budget, love you.