1. Wedding Band Equipment
Why 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.
Why 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.
Why 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.
Why 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 photo/video vendors.
Why 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 arrive!
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.
Why 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
How 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.
Why 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 Fee
Why 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 guest
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.
Why 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 coat checkers.
Why 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 hiring servers.
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.
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