Fight Hidden Costs

2012-08-23T00:00:00Z 2012-08-23T18:39:09Z Fight Hidden CostsBy Jessica Pennington, Owner and Lead Planner, Stella Event Design nwitimes.com

We all know that wedding costs can add up quickly. Between the catering, beverage service, linen rentals and bridal party gifts, you can charge up a big bill—and if you’re not prepared for it, the total costs could come as quite a shock!

While it’s great to know the total amount you have to spend, if you don’t sit down and break it into a detailed budget, you’ll be on track to overspend! One of the first things I do with my clients is make a detailed budget, breaking the overall budget into manageable cost centers such as food and beverages, ceremony costs, and floral and decor, so that couples can see where they will be spending their money. Sit down with your fiancé and come up with a detailed list of wedding-related expenses from the big-ticket items like your venue and photography to smaller items (that quickly add up) such as your shoes and accessories, bridal party gifts and toasting flutes.

Make sure you don’t forget to budget in sufficient funds to cover tips, gratuity and other miscellaneous charges. If your caterer charges 20 percent gratuity (which isn’t out of the norm) plus state sales tax, you can be looking at several thousand dollars—so budget that amount in, and don’t let it come as a surprise on the final bill! Below is a tipping cheat sheet to help determine how much to tip some of your most common vendors:

Limousine/Shuttle Drivers: 10-15 percent of the bill, given at the end of the evening.

Valet Parking Attendants: $.50 to $1.00 per car. Prearrange this amount with the supervisor, based on an estimate of how many cars will be arriving. A sign should be posted to guests that the gratuity has been taken care of.

Waitstaff: 15 percent of the total catering bill should be given to your banquet captain to be split amongst servers. This is often included in your contract, so be sure to check that you haven’t already paid gratuity with your final bill!

Bartenders: 10 percent of your total liquor bill. Make sure that a tip hasn’t been added to your contract already. If you provided your own alcohol and hired private bartenders, then 15-20 percent of their total fee should be tipped to the head bartender to be split.

DJ: If your DJ owns the company, then the tip is optional, but if the DJ is an employee, an appropriate amount to tip is $50-100.

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