Did you see footage from an appalling wedding video the other night on the news or read about it in the papers? Mark and Sylvia Day in Wakefield forked out nearly £1500 for a professional photographer to take snaps and video their big day, only to receive blurred pictures and an amateurish video in which you can barely see the bride and the cameraman swears after dropping the camera on the floor. The couple sued and received compensation.
We’re off to a wedding this weekend and, while the Days’ experience is a horror story, talking to other friends who got hitched recently, I’m suspicious that some service providers view a wedding as an opportunity to line their pockets. As soon as you put ‘wedding’ in front of any services you require, many brides say, expect the price to triple.
With the average wedding costing around £17,000, here are some hidden wedding charges you might not expect to find on your bill:
Corkage costs. You might think you can save money by providing your own cheap booze – I even suggested to somebody recently that they make their own homebrew – but many venues charge for corkage. Sometimes the cost can be up to £11 a bottle. Not all venues charge ], though, so check before you book. Check whether quoted prices include VAT or if there are further extra service charges to be added to your bill. Query too whether you’ll be tied into the venue’s caterers and entertainers. If you provide your own entertainer, the venue may demand that they have public liability insurance.
Wedding dresses. I’ve just been reading comments from some brides on a forum bragging about getting their gowns for only £900! I’m horrified that this is perceived to be a bargain, but of course designer gowns can cost thousands of pounds. If that isn’t enough, you may have to book an appointment just to try on these frocks and if you’re a no show, many outlets charge a cancellation fee of up to £50. Watch out for other charges too, such as fitting fees (if your wedding is a year ahead, you may need several fittings), dress storage and delivery fees. Make sure your upfront quote covers all of them.
Hair-raising charges. A hairdresser charged a friend of mine £60 to do a ‘hair rehearsal’ a few months before her wedding and demanded that the bridesmaids show up and pay £40 for theirs too, despite the fact some of them lived hundreds of miles away! Other friends were charged £80 and were unhappy with the results. Why not get a friend to do your hair instead?
Some moneysaving suggestions from frugal brides I’ve spoken to:
Make a realistic budget and stick to it. Research all the options early on and decide what you can afford and what aspects of the wedding you want to spend your money on. Will anybody care if there is no chocolate fountain or your dress isn’t Gucci? Do you need a coach and white horses to take you to the ceremony or will a taxi suffice? Check out specialist charity shops such as Oxfam’s online bridal dress shop and outlets which lists frocks donated by designer outlets, many for under £100. Shop around and visit as many venues as possible.
Have a buffet or BBQ. Traditional sit-down meals tend to be more expensive per head than a buffet, which has the added bonus of getting guests up out of their seats and talking to other people. Why not investigate some unusual options, such as a BBQ or hog roast? Does it have to be in a special venue? Why not consider a local restaurant, village hall, cosy pub function room or even a friend’s home? Bear in mind, though, that if you want to hire a marquee for a back garden, the costs could run into thousands of pounds as you’ll need lighting, flooring etc.
Do your own photography. Do you need 5,000 photos in an album costing £2,600? With digital cameras widespread nowadays, couldn’t you get a friend to take some snaps? Make sure they download the photos onto a laptop and back them up in case something goes wrong.
Consider wedding insurance. Friends of ours were horrified when a company providing the wedding list gifts went bust days before the wedding, and I’ve heard of other people who got the venue ready in advance, only to have it broken into. It may be worth considering wedding insurance, but check what it will cover. Your existing home contents coverage may provide cover for wedding gifts etc. Plus, if you pay for items costing £100 to £30,000 by credit card you can already claim the money back from the retailer or card company if there is a problem.
Did you have a frugal wedding? How did you save on costs? Have you come across any other shocking wedding expenses? Leave a message and let me know.
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