The Hidden Costs of Marriage
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013
Photo by: Nathan Abplanalp Photography
Brittany Sajbel is an associate attorney in Concord. Her March wedding planning has hit quite a few bumps in the road, but she remains positive and sane with the help of her amazing fiance, Neil Love, and their two furbabies, Gemma Bean and Kitty Caroline. Contact Brittany here.
Yesterday marked the two-month countdown to my nuptials, and I couldnt be more excited. On March 23rd, I am marrying my absolute best friend, and I have no hesitations about that. However, wedding planning is kicking into high gear, and I find myself constantly surprised by some of the things that I am spending money on. More surprising is that I totally should have been prepared for them and just got caught off guard.One of the first big things to jump out at me along the way was the cost of attending a tasting, whether it be just for dessert or for the entire menu. While my venue only works with two select caterers, I found that the cost for a tasting was going to run between $40 and $60 per person. I was shocked at the price tag and asked the vendors point blank what they could do about it. The first caterer told me that she would lower the cost for each of us to meet the actual cost of the menu we had picked out. She also told us that she would reduce our total bill by the cost of the tasting if we booked with them. The second caterer was not only inflexible, but told us that tastings were done as a group on set days of the week. Given that we live six hours away from the venue, it was a no-brainer to go with caterer number one without even tasting caterer number two. Not only did we reduce the up-front cost of our tasting, but it was free in the long run. Why spend money on vendors that arent willing to work with you?Another sticker shock is postage. Never assume that youre going to mail out $100 invites for the number of invitations multiplied by the cost of a first-class stamp. We mailed out Save the Date postcards (or, STDs as my mother keeps awkwardly insisting on calling them), for $.32 each. We are about to send out our invitations at a cost of $.65 per card, rather than the $.45 we hoped. Thank goodness we did have all those $.45 stamps hanging around, though, because those all went onto the response cards to ensure that we would get them back in the tight time frame we have. Almost $175 later, Im sure glad that we got a hefty discount on our invites.Undergarments. Im wearing Spanxx under my dress and Im not afraid to admit it. My dress is sheer, its going to be breezy, and it might be a little bit cold. All reasons to throw on that firming, smoothing extra layer. However, quality comes at a cost, and my Spanxx ran a cool $96. Even if youre going to purchase special bridal undergarments, expect to shell out a pretty penny. I ended up budgeting it in with my wedding dress, which was interesting when I needed to explain it to my dad.Makeup and hair run-throughs. If youve never used a hairstylist or makeup artist before, this is an absolute must expense, but its a doozy. When I was creating my original estimates, I knew that having my hair done would be a significant cost. I did not think to double that amount to ensure that I was comfortable with the stylist and what shes doing to my head when I cant see her. Also, you have to make sure that theres no chance of an allergic reaction to any makeup that a technician might apply. I cant imagine the horror of saving myself $50-100 only to turn into a bright red and blotchy blob before the cake cutting. If at all possible, couple your run-throughs with portrait sessions, whether engagement or bridal. Attendant gifts, parent gifts, groom gifts, and welcome bags. As I get closer to the big day and look at the pile of paraphernalia I have accumulated, I realize what a significant amount of money I have spent on various items that I didnt exactly budget for. A $20 item here or there for an attendant, flower girl, guest, or parent starts to take its toll on the pocketbook. Having a very clear idea of how much to spend per person is something that must be done before you start to buy gifts and realize youve spent more on something for your parents than your eight attendants combined. It is extremely important to discuss expectations with your groom about the gifts that you will be giving to each other, to guests, and to attendants. Look for freebies at every turnif you buy beer steins for the guys, can the company do engraving for free? If youre giving relatives welcome bags, is there a travel center with free maps or local coupons? Do you get a discount for ordering favors in bulk?Services, gratuities, and tax. SERVICES, GRATUITIES, AND TAX! Make sure you know to a T what every bill you receive from each vendor includes. When I first booked my venue, I was horrified to see that the cost for each item had little asterisks next to it to indicate that a 19% gratuity would be added along with a 6% local sales tax. It was frustrating to first realize that, but I cant imagine my horror on the big day if I had to sign a check for hundreds more than I was expecting. Ask every single vendor what is included and get it in writing. This includes the unexpected, like a florist that might throw in a $100 delivery fee. Caterer one that I spoke about earlier? She came right out and said, Before you ask, youll see that we pay all of our servers a high hourly rate, so no one is expected to tip them and no gratuity will be added. It was refreshing to have that transparency, but you definitely cannot expect that from everyone.Welcoming events and busy time activities. Our wedding is a long trip for everyone that we have invited. Were getting married on the Georgia/Florida border, and we have exactly two guests that were invited from either of those states. That said, we wanted to make sure that we had activities planned and available for all of the out-of-towners that will be descending on our venue. None of these events or activities were budgeted for, but we made sure to find a way to include a Meet & Greet on Friday night, as well as various games and lawn activities before the wedding and during the cocktail hour and reception.While wedding planning and budgeting is never an easy task, I think it would have been a lot easier from the start if I had the foresight to really delve into the nitty gritty of the costs that would be incurred. For all of you girls and guys out there just starting the process, Google, ask around, and research to find out the ways that other couples-to-be have avoided budgetary pitfalls and surprises. Nothing will look better in your wedding day photos than the confidence of knowing what a beautiful job you have done on the way to building an amazing future.
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