How To Avoid Hidden Fees While Planning Your Wedding

“Wait, you’re charging how much to deliver it?” When Caroline and I were planning our wedding, we worked with a lot of vendors I already knew and trusted, but with those that I’d never worked with, I was especially careful to watch out for hidden fees.

The Fear of Hidden Fees

The possibility of hidden fees should scare you. They can wreak havoc with your wedding budget. While most wedding vendors will be straightforward with you about the fees associated with hiring them, there are several questions – and one piece of homework – that will help you root them out if they do pop up!

Questions to Ask

You should ask your potential vendors lots of questions when it comes to the point where you’re looking at a contract and discussing their fees. Here are several that will help you find out if there’s anything lurking in the shadows that might be a concern.

1. Is there a service charge?

This is mostly in regards to venues, caterers, bar service. Ask if the fee they are giving you per person includes a service fee that goes towards paying the staff (wait staff, bartenders, etc.). This is not a ‘tip’ but the fee for the servers. Your ‘per plate’ fee might be $95, but the venue will tack on a $25 per plate ‘service fee’ – so that brings the actual cost up to $120 per person.

2. Is there a charge for delivery and/or setup?

Florists, tent rentals, bakers, and the like sometimes will charge you for delivering their wares AND/OR for setting it up when they get there. Make sure to ask if delivery/setup is included in the quote they are giving you!

A good friend of mine ended up with an additional $2000 fee from the tent rental company he hired because he didn’t realize they were going to charge him an additional $1000 to deliver the tent plus an extra $1000 to set the tent up!!!

3. Is there a travel fee?

If a vendor is not located near where your wedding (or the reception) is taking place, they may charge a fee to travel to that location. Be sure to tell them ALL of the locations associated with the wedding that they will be dealing with to make sure you get an accurate quote up front. If you don’t tell them the reception is 75 miles away from where the ceremony is taking place, you can’t be upset when they tell you there’s a fee for them to travel that far.

For example, I include any locations within a 50 mile radius of New York City without a travel fee. Outside of that, I charge a small fee for mileage/tolls/gas. Every vendor is different so be sure to ask!!

4. How much is overtime, and when do we start getting charged for it?

Perhaps the most frightening proposition to any wedding budget – OVERTIME!!! Simply looking at what other wedding vendors charged for overtime while I was planning my own wedding made me reevaluate the way I do business entirely.

All of my standard packages include full day coverage without any time limits or overtime fees. Even my a-la-carte hourly packages include a 15-30 minute grace period where we can get in any last minute photos before I leave. I don’t want you to stress about overtime!!!

Make sure you know when potential vendors will start charging overtime. Is it immediately when the time is up or is there a short grace period? Do they charge overtime by the hour (as in an hourly minimum to start) or will they charge for smaller blocks of time?

5. Your final piece of homework

Read any contract FULLY before you sign it. Look for clauses that result in additional fees. If you have a question about the clause, ask!! Get that response in writing. Most vendors will be very transparent about what their fees are, but some less scrupulous vendors will use deliberately confusing language so that you don’t know you’ll end up paying extra money!

In Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Good vendors will be more than happy to answer them. If a vendor is evasive about certain fees or won’t give you a straight answer, that’s a red flag!

Be sure to share this post with anyone you know who is planning a wedding – and if you have any questions about what certain wedding related fees might be, drop them in the comment section. I will do my best to answer them.


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