By Ryan Rink CFP®, ChFC®, CLTC®
Planning and Prioritizing Wedding Expenses
Are you or someone you know getting married in the near future? This is one of the most exciting times of life, and also tends to be one of the biggest expenses. Wanting the big, beautiful wedding often comes with a price tag, and there are unexpected costs that most don’t think of until they are deep into planning. I got married a little over a month ago and wanted to share some of the items that caught me by surprise, so you can share with others as they begin planning their own wedding.
Extra Costs for Items at the Venue
When you are first shopping out venues, many will list out the flat rental fee, but it’s important to find out what is included in that fee. It will often not include food and drink packages, which can vary drastically. Does the fee include tables and chairs? How about setup and cleanup? How many bartenders? One of the issues we encountered was the actual time we could get into the venue to set up tables. They didn’t allow us to come in early unless we paid an extra $100/hour. Another big item to keep in mind is table settings. This can add up quickly, depending on how you’d like everything to look. If you have a wedding of 200-300 people, you’re going to have at least 20 tables, so you’ll need to buy 20 of everything.
Tips: Make sure to request a sheet/list of what is all included, so you know what extra costs you will be responsible for. Buying a wedding planning book or binder is a great idea. You can purchase these for around $25 and they will list a majority of items you need to consider, and give you questions to ask your venue contact. When you purchase items for table settings, don’t go overboard. Most people won’t even know the difference. Also, there are plenty of used options available instead of buying everything brand new. There are Facebook groups and events held locally for ‘wedding fairs.’ Keep your eye out for these and you can save a lot of money!
Gifts for Wedding Party/Parents
It’s very common to buy gifts for your bridal party, as well as your parents. Lately, bridal parties have grown in size, with some having as many as ten people stand up on each side! When the groom/bride asks their friend or family member to stand up in the wedding, they also tend to present gifts. It’s customary to give gifts on the day-of the wedding to each bridal party member as well. To put this into perspective, let’s say the bride and groom decide to have eight people stand up on each side. If they spend $25/person on each bridal party member for gifts when asking each individual, that will cost them a total of $400. But that number doesn’t include the day-of gifts. Let’s assume they spend another $25/person for gifts on the day-of as well…that’s another $400. Add in the parents and they’re close to $1,000!
Tip: There’s not a whole lot that can be done, other than having a smaller wedding party. However, it’s important to be aware of this expense, as it is very real. One suggestion relates to the gifts for parents on the day of the wedding. Instead of buying them gifts, my wife and I decided to handwrite each of our parents’ letters. They loved this so much, as it was something more personal and meaningful.
You’ve booked and paid for your vendors (DJ, dessert, photo booth, shuttle, etc.). You’re all set, right? Not necessarily. Even though you’ve paid their service fee, most of the time this doesn’t include a tip. It’s important to set aside some funds to tip your different vendors throughout the night. When you start adding up 10-20% for each vendor, it doesn’t take long for this number to reach $500 or more!
Tips: You want to give a tip to your vendors, especially when they provide good service. What I suggest is assigning a minimum dollar amount to each vendor you’d like to tip, then increase the amount if you are happy with the service they provided throughout the night. For example, at my wedding we did an ice cream sandwich bar. My wife and I originally planned on tipping 10% but were so pleased with the service and compliments from our guests that we decided to tip 20%.
Weddings can be very exciting, but also come at a cost. One of the best things you can do is set a budget early and talk through the financials. Wedding planning can be complicated, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your Shakespeare Advisor for assistance.