Financial Matters Dreaming about the perfect wedding is one thing — actually paying for it is another. Establish a realistic budget up front, and you’ll be able to create an affordable fantasy.
ou are in love — it’s the real thing. Now that you’ve found your partner in life, you want to share your happiness with everyone. You want your wedding celebration to be the talk of the town — the biggest and best ever. Before your fantasies get ahead of your checkbook, ask yourself: who’s paying for this wedding, and how much can you afford to spend? Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid the majority of the wedding costs. Back in the old days, the groom assumed full financial responsibility for his bride after they rode off into the sunset. He didn’t have to chip in much for the wedding — he paid his share later. It’s a different story now. Both partners in a modern marriage tend to go back to work after the honeymoon, and these newlyweds have a bit more financial independence. It seems only natural for both families to contribute to the wedding celebration. Decide the kind of wedding you’d like. Discuss your plans with those contributing to the cost, and determine a budget. Make everyone’s financial limitations clear at this point — it will prevent hard feelings later. Nowadays, the average wedding costs around $27,000. Remember, there are always places you can cut costs to save money if you are wanting to spend less. As a rule, the more guests you invite and the more expensive the venues you choose, the more your costs will increase. Most brides also find that their costs go over their actual budget, so try to plan accordingly. The largest single expense you’re faced with is the reception. Festivities at private clubs and four-star restaurants are pricier than those held in the church fellowship hall. Check rates at several types of reception sites so that you can find one within your budget. Many facilities offer excellent package deals. You’ll find everything completely organized, from tea and sandwiches at the church to a formal
sit-down dinner complete with orchestra. Purchasing services separately is a lot of work! Many couples opt for at least a partial package — it saves time and energy. Costs for the reception room itself vary. Prices range from free to several hundred dollars per hour. Professional planners suggest the reception last from three to four-and-a-half hours. Any shorter, and people who have traveled from afar may feel cheated. Any longer, and guests tend to start leaving before it is over. Deciding whether or not to serve a meal depends on your finances and what is expected in your community. Many ethnic and religious cultures traditionally celebrate with a hearty meal. If many of your guests have traveled a long distance, it’s hospitable to feed them. If you plan your wedding during mealtimes, you are expected to provide sustenance. If this creates a fiscal panic, change your reception style, or invite fewer guests. One workable option — plan a large reception with light refreshments, then ask close family, friends and out-of-town guests to your parents’ house for a buffet dinner. Food and beverage costs vary greatly. Depending on whether you serve a buffet of hot appetizers, a complete buffet differ, or a multi-course seated dinner, prices can range from $10 to more than $100 per person. Caterers’ estimates usually include the cost of beverages, but do make sure. Some caterers include champagne, beer and wine, but charge extra for mixed drinks at an open bar. You may pay for drinks individually, or include the libations in the caterer’s package. Most professionals offer reasonable prices — they get it wholesale. With careful planning and a lot of investigating, you and your family can host the wedding you’ve always wanted — without ruining your budget. And you can go on dreaming about how special your wedding day will be. •
Tipping Tips • Caterer, hotel or club banquet manager, bridal consultant. 15 – 20% if not covered in fee. Reception hosts pay bill on receipt. Add any special tip to payment after reception. • Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, table servers. 15 – 20% of bill — given to the captain or maitre d’ of hotel to distribute to rest of staff. If included, reception hosts pay tips with bill. If not, right after the reception. • Powder room, coat room attendants in hotels or clubs. 50¢ – $1 per guest, or arrange a flat fee with hotel or club management. If a flat fee, reception hosts pay tips with bill. If not, right after the reception. • Florist, photographer, baker, musicians you hire, limousine driver. 15% for driver, others tipped only for extra special service, up to 15%. Ceremony hosts tip driver at reception site. Add other tips to bill payments. • Civil ceremony officials. Usually a flat fee. (Some judges cannot accept money; ask when you apply.) Groom gives fee to best man, who pays the official after ceremony. • Clergy members who perform the ceremony. Groom gives donation to best man who pays after ceremony. • Ceremony assistants. Sometimes covered by church fee — ask clergy member what’s customary. Ceremony hosts pay church fee when billed; separate fees and tips after service. • Custodians or kitchen help if reception is in church. Ask church secretary. Ceremony hosts pay when billed or after service.
Dallas & Ft. Worth, TX.