How to avoid unexpected wedding venue costs

Renting the venue seems like a one-and-done expense, but in reality unexpected costs pop up frequently. Unless you’ve specified beyond a doubt in your rental contract that truly every expense is included, be prepared to face a few extra fees as you approach your wedding day. Some of the more commonly-encountered surprises are listed below.

Bar Setup Costs

The bar is just a bunch of bottles with a person to pour them, right? Wrong. Temporary bars actually take quite a bit of time to create. Depending on the size of your bar, you may need to pay the crew for over an hour of setup time to arrange the displays and get everything ready for serving.

If you’re renting glassware for your guests (which is common; even if you have enough mismatched glasses and mugs on your own, many bartenders insist on working with a standard set), plan on the setup cost coming to at least a few dollars per guest. That price doesn’t include alcohol, either. Your bar costs much more than the sum of its bottles.

Cleaning Deposits and Fees

You may have the utmost confidence that your wedding guests can hold their food plates steady and not spill balsamic-reduction sauce on the white carpets, but are you ready to stake your wallet on it? Never spend your cleaning deposit because you assume you’ll get it back at the end of the wedding. All it takes is the flower girl leaving icing smears on the white curtains in her own attempt to play “bride” for the day, and you’ll find yourself massively over-budget.

Ask your venue whether there are any steps they suggest you take in order to keep the place looking flawless. Some venues suggest that parties serve only white wine to reduce the risk of stains, for example. If there are especially fragile areas of the venue, you can ask to have them roped off for your event.

Party Rentals

You may be saving a lot of money by using your great uncle’s old barn as a venue, but that means the cost of decorating it and filling it with amenities falls to you. With a banquet hall or hotel venue you may be compromising with less personal space and higher rental cost, but you’ll be assured that everything from dessert spoons to chair covers comes included with your rental package.

If you’re serving dinner (or even cake) outside of an all-included package, your guests need plates, napkins, forks, and other niceties. Check with rental companies about package rates. Disposable options aren’t cheap, either; by the time you factor in all of your guests, the costs add up to a lot for something you’re just going to throw away at the end of the day.

The best way to save money on party rentals is to borrow from your friends’ collections and scour relatives’ attics ahead of time to accumulate a mismatched, charming set of personalized items.

Party rentals include the obvious items, like tents, tables, and chairs, but they also include items like dance floors. If you’re hosting a wedding on a lawn or other picturesque outdoor location, give thought to how guests will dance without sinking into the sod.

Don’t forget details like a flat, dry area and table for the DJ or band to set up equipment, as well as extension cords and generators if your location is far from a power source. Don’t forget serving rentals, either; you’ll need to keep your food the right temperature with chafing dishes and coolers. Ask your caterers, DJs, and other vendors what rental items they don’t supply on their own.

It’s not enough to rent the items you’ll need for your wedding. You have to return them, too. Budget enough money to cover your deposit in case valuable rentals get broken or go missing. Some companies charge extra for cleaning the supplies, too, so make sure you understand the fine print of your rental agreement. If you’re using your own or borrowed supplies, don’t forget to budget in cleaning costs for yourself.

Read Contracts Carefully

Avoid surprise fees by reading your rental agreements very carefully before signing. Since most couples getting married don’t have much experience planning a wedding, it can be hard to know exactly what questions to ask and what fine print to examine. By educating yourself about some of the more common financial surprises, you can come prepared to sign only the contracts that work for you.