Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The not-so-hidden costs of weddings

Lately, I keep hearing about hidden costs railroading wedding budgets. There are no hidden costs when you're working with a professional wedding planner. When we do your budget, we lay out all of the costs, so you know exactly what you may be spending in the end. However, there are a few items in the budget that always seem to elicit a "really?" from my clients, so I guess these can be considered "hidden costs," since they will impact your bottom line if you don't plan for them. The first is the marriage license. In the DC metro area, a license will cost you anywhere from $35-$75 depending on where you get married.

Second, bridal gown alterations. Yes, some bridal shops will offer free alterations, but many do not, so plan to add at least an extra $300 to the price of the gown. Toss in another $200 for the foundations - bustier or a good bra (and I'm not talking Victoria's Secret) and hosiery - add another 25% of the retail price just in case you get behind the ball and need to have your gown rushed.

Finally, tips. Let's be clear - a tip is not a gratuity - a gratuity is added automatically into the food & beverage price, and can range from 15-20 percent. It will be written into your contract and is non-negotiable. A tip, on the other hand, is a voluntary gift given to hotel or catering staff and other vendors for excellent service. Many hotels and caterers have changed the word "gratuity" to "service charge" to lessen confusion and banish all thoughts of it being optional. However, do not feel pressured to tip people for doing their jobs. Tip them for service that is above and beyond the call of duty.

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