Real Brides Tell All: The Most (Surprisingly) Pricey Part of My Wedding
BY CATEY HILL
You probably already know your wedding isn’t going to be cheap (the average wedding these days costs about $27,000, whew!). And I get it, you’re down to spend what you can on your big day – after all, you’re only getting married once! But that doesn’t mean you want to get blindsided by unexpected costs that you haven’t figured into your budget. So I asked a couple of brides what costs surprised them so you can be fully prepared when planning your big day.
1. Taxes and fees
When Orange County, California resident Kristin Leigh Metcalfe was planning her wedding last year, she was thrilled to find her dream venue and knew that, though it would cost a lot, she could save up for it. “I remember the day I realized I had saved up enough to pay the whole bill,” she says. “I was so thrilled.” She paid that bill, she thought, in full. But then she did a walk-through of the venue with the site coordinator a few weeks before the wedding, who told her that she still owed a final payment. Metcalfe was shocked. Turns out, buried in the fine print of her contract was the fact that she owed thousands more – it added up to more than 20% of the cost of the venue – in taxes, gratuity and fees. “I knew about taxes and fees but this seemed like so much.” Her advice: Read contracts – even the fine print – early on and “always account for a little extra.”
When 26-year-old Chelsea Bakewell, a blogger at The Pursuit of Chic, was planning her wedding, she too found the cost of venues to be high – but for a different reason. For her, it was because the price of an open bar was way too much. Her solution: “One way I kept the cost down was by only viewing venues that let me bring in my own alcohol,” she says. “That way, we’re only responsible for bartender and set-up charges beyond the alcohol that we supply. And we get to take home the unused alcohol.” Another way to save on the venue is to look for ones that let you bring in your own caterer, as a lot of venues have an “approved” list of caterers, many of which are pricey.
While the actual cost of Metcalfe’s invitations didn’t surprise her, she discovered that the “hidden” cost with invitations is when you don’t order enough. Like many brides, she ordered exactly the same number of invitations as number of guests at her wedding. But then she realized she needed a few more invitations. “When you run a small batch it costs a lot more per invitation,” she says. Metcalfe advises brides to order more invitations – probably about 25 or more – that you think you might need. “This way, you have plenty for keepsakes, too,” she adds.