Free Wedding Planning Tips For Brides on a Budget
and Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What time of day should I have my reception if my budget is extremely limited?
A: Mid-afternoon. Your guests have
already eaten lunch and will not require an extensive menu. Therefore, light hors d'oeuvres (finger foods) or a
dessert reception will be more than adequate.
Q: Where can I find a complete,
easy-to-use wedding planning budget spreadsheet?
Click here for your FREE copy.
Q: What percent
of your total wedding budget can you anticipate spending on your wedding reception?
35% - 50%
How can I conquer that costly liquor, beer and wine tab?
A: Serve an alcoholic & non-alcoholic punch in lieu of a bar.
Q: Is there a formula to calculate
how many guests will actually attend the reception?
take the total number of people you have invited and multiply that number by .66 and multiply that number by 1.15. Example:
300 invited x .66 = 198 x 1.15 = 228 people expected.
Q: How much should we pay our minister?
Consider this: Your minister is likely spending his time with your premarital counseling, the rehearsal
and the ceremony. $100.00 is an adequate sum. Of course, you may want to exceed this amount but consider the $100.00
is a fair price to pay for a wedding cake?
A: $3.00 per slice is the national
average fair market value for a basic wedding cake.
vendor is going to be the most vital asset at my wedding?
photographer. Think about it: At the end of the day, your food will be eaten - your flowers will be
thrown away - your decorations will most likely be tossed out and your guests will be thinking about the next wedding they're
going to attend. But, your pictures are going to last a lifetime. It's essential that you hire a professional
photographer in order to pass along treasured memories to future generations.
is something that is commonly overlooked just prior to the bride walking down the aisle?
A: Have a drinking straw and bottle of water handy.
Chances are your mouth will become extremely dry at the last minute and you'll need something to drink. Using a
straw will prevent you from ruining that perfect lipstick application.
we have a receiving line?
A: Your guests will probably
thank you in advance for NOT having one. It takes forever for 50+ guests to muddle through a receiving
line. There will be plenty of time during the reception for them to approach you to offer their best wishes and
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Wedding Budget: 10 Hidden Wedding Costs
It's all those pricey extras that slide in under the radar.
We've asked the experts to clue us in on their insider secrets for avoiding those little-known financial pitfalls and
sticking to your wedding budget.
1. Wedding Band EquipmentWhy it's hidden The cost of the wedding band includes fees for the musicians'
time and the minimum amount of equipment needed. If your reception space is extra-large, then additional speakers and microphones
could possibly be required to project the best sound quality.
The cost Anywhere from several hundred
to several thousand dollars
How to avoid it Before booking your wedding band or DJ, you need to clearly explain the layout of the space
(or have them check it out, if they're willing) so the vendors know exactly what they're working with. If they want
to add in extra equipment, you should have them explain why it's necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay
for anything else.
2. Postage StampsWhy 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.
3. Wedding Dress AlterationsWhy 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.
4. Photo/Video OvertimeWhy
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
5. Welcome-Bag DeliveryWhy 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
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.
6. Rental TransportWhy it's hidden You'd assume that the rental companies
would include these extra fees in the per-item costs (do they honestly think you're going to fit 150 chiavari chairs in
your own car?), but surprisingly, they don't.
The cost From $50 up to more than $500
to avoid it Ask the rental company what their shipping and packaging fees are up front -- if the cost is too high
for your budget, shop around a bit. You just might find that you'll actually save some money by renting items from a more
expensive company that includes delivery costs at no extra charge.
7. TaxesWhy 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.
8. Cake-Cutting FeeWhy
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
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.
9. Coat CheckWhy it's hidden When you book your venue in the summer,
it's easy to forget just how cold it'll be in winter months like December.
The cost The damage
starts at around $200.
How to avoid it Union rules may dictate the number of people who are required
to work the coat check (and the amount they get paid). Have a good approximation of your total guest count when you book the
10. GratuitiesWhy 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
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.