Hidden Costs: What You Need to Know

How to read the fine print on everything from flowers to food and much more.

From the moment your beau slips that dazzling ring on your finger, your brain goes into wedding-planning overdrive. But even the most detail-oriented, budget-conscious bride can be caught off guard by unanticipated expenses. Here's how to avoid them.

hidden costs venues and contracts
Venues & Contracts

“You must be aware of the financial pros and cons of each venue if you don’t want to be hit with unexpected expenses,” says Dale Flam, an event planner with The Zanadu Group in Hollywood, Florida. “If you want a wedding outdoors, for example, you’ll need to obtain a number of pricey permits for your open-air event, and you’ll have to make sure that everything from city regulations to fire regulations are strictly adhered to. You’ll also have to rent tents in case of rain or inclement weather.” Flam adds that every rental item placed in the tent is also your responsibility, including electricity generators, air conditioning or heating, the sound system and tableware.

As for indoor venues, JoAnn Gregoli, the owner of Elegant Occasions event planning in New York City, says, “Ask the vendor for the price per person, all inclusive, so that you know the fee for food and beverages, plus tax and service charges. When reviewing the contract, look out for the words ‘additional costs may be incurred’ and ‘plus the cost of setup and delivery.’ ” Ask what these costs are—they can increase the price per person by 30 percent, adds Flam, depending on your state’s sales tax. 

Certain venue prices depend heavily on what time of year and where in the country you decide to get married. “If a majority of weddings take place between May and December where you live, you could save money across the board by getting married in a quieter month,” says Flam. “The same applies to the day of the week or the time of day you choose. Reception halls charge the highest fees for Saturday night weddings. You might want to consider a Sunday brunch or luncheon, or a Friday night celebration.”

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Photo by Emily Anglr