Everyone knows that weddings are expensive – depending on where you live the average cost might be 30, 40 or even $50,000 – and that’s just the average. While there are some enormous costs associated with the wedding – such as the catering for the reception – there are also many smaller costs that really add up. This is where it’s important to pay attention when searching for that perfect wedding venue. Some of the items below may be included in hotels or full-service special event venues, but others may not be included and might end up being an upgrade that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Here’s what you should look out for:
Furniture Rentals: Some venues include the cost of tables, chairs and linens in the overall rental fee, or it’s worked into the per person menu price. But always ask – it might not be included. When it is included in the price it’s usually only the on-site inventory, so if you have your heart set on square tables and the venue only has rounds, you’ll have to pay to rent new tables. Sometimes venues have strange items that are included – such as the chairs are complimentary but you have to rent tables, or vice versa. Linens might be included or they may need to be rented through your caterer.
Non-approved Vendors: Many venues have either exclusive or approved vendors. Exclusive means that you are required to use that vendor (such as the in-house caterer at a hotel). Approved vendors usually means that they have a list of vendors they are comfortable with and have worked with numerous times. The flexibility to use other vendors will vary from venue to venue; sometimes using a non-approved vendor means an “interview fee” that can be several hundred dollars.
Set Up & Clean Up: This rarely occurs at hotels and full-service special event venues, but other non-traditional venues like museums, galleries and parks may charge a set up fee and clean up to cover the cost of their staff’s time. Other times specific instances may require a cleanup charge – such as excessive mess. I’ve seen venues charge a clean up fee to pick up rose petals, for example.
Overtime Costs: Most event contracts have a fixed time frame. If your event runs longer you may have to pay overtime fees for the venue staff – this may also apply to other vendors, like your photographer or DJ.
Cake Fee: Some venues charge a per person cake cutting fee if you don’t use the preferred or in-house baker. It’s usually $1-5 per person.
Corkage Fee: Some venues allow you to bring your own alcohol, but may charge a fee to open and serve bottles of wine or champagne. If you have a particular vintage you want to serve, ask about these fees up front.
Lighting & Sound: If you want anything extra when it comes to lighting – such as uplighting or pin-spotting – you may have to pay extra or bring in a vendor. When it comes to sound, some venues will charge to patch into the house sound or for a microphone for the best man speech.
Those are just a few of the “hidden” fees that some venues charge. Every venue is different so it’s best to ask plenty of questions as you are going on site visits and make sure you work out any fees before signing a contract.