Aug 122015
 
Parents Paying for Wedding

Photo: Getty Images

Your parents (and maybe your fiancé's parents, too) have offered to pay for your wedding — you may be one of the luckiest couples out there today! Nowadays, most brides and grooms have to self-finance the bulk of their wedding expenses. But if you're letting somebody else pick up the tab for your big day, those parents probably assume that they will also have some say in the choices you make and how their money is spent. It's up to you to make sure you have a clear understanding of their expectations when you accept their generous offer.

It's not a good idea to have anyone other than you or your fiancé sign any of the contracts related to the wedding, unless it's at a private club where your parents are the members and they have to sign the contract. Even so, it's a good idea to set expectations about how much participation and influence they're going to have over your wedding festivities.

If you and your parents are all on the same page, planning a wedding together can be a lot of fun and a great bonding experience. However, if you're envisioning flower crowns and a sand blending ceremony and your mother has always imagined the church and you wearing her wedding gown, there may be some speed bumps ahead.

Have an open and honest conversation with your parents before you accept their offer to pay for your wedding. Explore the following questions together:

1. Find out what out what they have in mind from the beginning. Does your vision match their vision, and can you achieve a compromise?

See more: Can A Bride Expect Her Parents to Pay for Her Second Wedding

2. Do your parents want creative input or to just sign checks and show up as VIP guests on the wedding day?

3. How many of their own friends do your parents intend to invite, and how does this work into your guest list and budget plan? Can you reach a compromise that keeps everybody happy? Both sets of parents get to invite the same number of guests, theoretically.

If you can answer all of those questions in a positive way and feel like there is nothing you can't compromise about if there is a disagreement, you're going to have smooth sailing. Go into it knowing that they have a totally different vision of your wedding in their minds and you might just find out how stressful wedding planning can be.

Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.

Tipping 101: Exactly How Much Gratuity You Need to Give Your Vendors

 Budget, Etiquette, Planning Tips, Wedding Budget, Wedding Etiquette, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on Tipping 101: Exactly How Much Gratuity You Need to Give Your Vendors
Aug 072015
 
How to Break Up with a Wedding Vendor

Photo: Getty Images

Just as tipping is standard at a restaurant or hair salon, it's standard to give all your vendors gratuity on the wedding day. But before you start shelling out cash, it's important to determine exactly how much you should allot for each vendor, as the appropriate amount differs based on their expertise and service.

Keep in mind that some vendors may actually include gratuity in their overall cost, so don't forget to check your contracts to make sure the tip, a.k.a. "service charge," is not included in your bill. But for those who do get a gratuity, give them cash in sealed, labeled envelopes, and including a handwritten thank-you note is a nice touch. Here's what's customary for each of your vendors:

See More: Vendor Etiquette 101: Tipping, Feeding, and Dealing with Difficult Vendors

Officiant: $50 for a judge or clerk; a $100 donation to a clergy member's house of worship, as they generally don't accept tips
Band or DJ: $25 to $50 per person
Photographer or Videographer: $100 to $200 for the main shooter, unless he or she owns the business (then no tip is needed); $50 to $75 for second shooters
Catering manager: $250 to $500
Wait staff: 15 percent of the total pretax food bill
Bartenders: 10 to 15 percent of the total pretax bar bill
Drivers: 15 to 20 percent of the total transportation bill
Valets: $1 to $2 per car
Restroom and coat-check attendants: $.50 to $2 per guest
Makeup and hair professionals: 15 to 20 percent of the total bill for each
Deliverymen: $5 to $20 each

List look a little shorter than expected? Remember that your cake baker, stationer, and florist — basically, any wedding vendor who's self-employed or is the owner of a business — will not be expecting tips. So you can take that out of your wedding budget!

For even more of the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES August/September 2015 issue on newsstands now and available for download.

How Much Is Too Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

 Budget, Etiquette, Favors & Gifts, Wedding Budget, Wedding Etiquette, Wedding Guests  Comments Off on How Much Is Too Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?
Jul 202015
 

My savings account and I learned the hard way that going to a wedding can be extremely expensive. After you've squared away travel, accommodations, and a dress to wear to the event of the season, you need to shell out even more cash for the wedding gift. So how do you know how much you should give? Here are three quick tips to use when determining how much money you should spend on the bride and the groom on their wedding day.

1. Do Some Research
Do a quick Google search to see what the updated average range is to give as a wedding gift. Many websites will tell you all different numbers, so it's important to read into what factors they are considering when generating that number. Are they taking into consideration location and your salary?

2. Give What You Feel Comfortable With
After reading more articles than your brain can properly process, it's okay to just give a gift in the amount that you, and your bank account, feel most comfortable with. If it's lower than the standard amount the World Wide Web is telling you, that's okay. In the end, your presence at the wedding should mean more than the amount of zeros your wedding gift has.

See More: When Is It Appropriate to Send a Wedding Gift?

3. Rely on a Cost Tool
There are a couple of websites out there that let you plug in information (like the location of the wedding, your salary, etc.) and shoot out an estimated number to you as to what you should give as a wedding gift. Note: I've tried this before and it's also been about $75 more than I could afford to give — so don't feel like you have to give what the tool tells you that you should!

Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.

Cost-Effective Alternatives to an Open Bar for Your Wedding Reception

 Etiquette, Food & Drink, Wedding Budget, Wedding Etiquette, Wedding Receptions  Comments Off on Cost-Effective Alternatives to an Open Bar for Your Wedding Reception
Jul 062015
 

Champagne toasts and custom cocktails are synonymous with nuptial celebrations, but free-flowing alcohol can amount to an expensive bill quickly. An open bar may be the expectation for modern weddings, but what is a bride to do when her budget doesn't allow for the cost? Brides on a budget need not fret over the expense of an open bar, as there are a plethora of affordable options that offer the same celebratory experience. Our etiquette experts weigh in on devising guest-pleasing and inexpensive alternatives to an open bar.

1. BYOB
Consider a BYOB wedding if your location permits the practice, where guests may bring along their favorite wine or liquor to the celebration.

2. Save Alcohol for Your Toasts
If you wish to raise a glass of bubbly to your new marriage without breaking the bank, consider reserving champagne for toasts at your reception.

3. Create Custom Cocktails
Instead of resigning yourself to the expense of an open bar, brainstorm with your caterer to create a signature cocktail or two with ingredients and liquor labels that are within your budget.

See More: Nightmare Scenario: Dealing With A Drunk Wedding Guest

4. Limit the Liquor
If you wish to embrace the idea of an open bar without maxing out your bank account, try limiting the liquor by setting an allotted time for guests to sip cocktails before closing the bar. In addition, you may consider regulating the number of drinks each guest consumes by offering attendees a set number of drink tickets.

5. Serve Up Large-Batch Drinks Such as Punch or Sangria
Skirt the issue of a budget-busting open bar by serving cocktails that can be created in large batches ahead of time such as sangria or punch.

6. Try a Wedding With Chic Mocktails
Your wedding doesn't require alcohol to maintain a celebratory spirit. Creating innovative mocktails will keep your drinks economical while preserving your wedding's personalized aesthetic.

7. Create a Beer and Wine Bar
Beer and wine are excellent alternatives to a fully stocked bar if you wish to cut costs. Consider setting up a beer or wine bar where guests can taste local blends and brews.

The Lowdown on Your Wedding Budget: Things You Need to Include from Day One

 Planning Tips, Wedding Budget  Comments Off on The Lowdown on Your Wedding Budget: Things You Need to Include from Day One
Jul 062015
 
Wedding budget factors

Photo: Getty Images

Many couples sit down and create a budget as soon as they get engaged and start planning their wedding. The numbers are imaginary until you have an actual guest count, but it's good to have a list of everything you expect you're going to need to pay for even if you can't fill in all the blanks. And another problem is that you don't know what-all needs to be listed on that budget on day one.

It's okay to put a question mark in the blank, but leave that blank there so that you don't forget about it when you're adding up everything you need to spend. Sometimes it's these question marks that keep couples from spending needlessly on things they find late night on Pinterest. That's a legitimate budget-buster.

On the front end, you have to think about things that have nothing to do with the actual wedding venue: wedding dress, groom's attire, rings, save-the-dates, invitations, and travel costs if you're having a destination wedding. Put those things in your budget.

You'll also have blanks for each and every one of your vendors including the cake baker, the florist, the photographer, the videographer, the venue, the reception caterer, the rehearsal dinner, the welcome bags for out-of-own guests, the ceremony music, the reception music, the wedding favors, some beauty appointments for the bridal party, the minister, your marriage license, any required permits, reception décor, necessary lighting, various rental equipment (everything from linens to tents), other activities, and a lunch for the bridal party on the wedding day (so they don't have too much champagne on an empty stomach prior to the ceremony).

See More: Should Your Guy Know What You Spend

Frequently, brides and grooms forget to include two very, very important items in their wedding budget: 1) a setup and teardown crew, and 2) gratuities for absolutely everybody who works your wedding from the kitchen staff to the lady who made the tasty bride and groom cookies for your reception favors. It's easy to forget that you have to pay somebody to clean up everything after your wedding even if you've paid other people to put it all up. And depending on whether you're getting married at a hotel or planning your wedding at a private venue, your gratuity costs will probably run between 18 and 23 percent — a hefty chunk of change unless you've planned ahead for it.

As long as you plan ahead and have a real idea of all the things you're going to have to pay for, you are creating a realistic wedding budget. It may remain just a really good estimate until you have your final headcount and can recalculate how many people you have to feed and how many tables, chairs, and linens you're actually going to need, but it's a baseline you can use when you're organizing your finances ahead of time for your big day.

Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.

All of the Financial Loose Ends You Need to Tie Up Before Your Wedding

 Budget, Married Life, Relationships, Wedding Budget  Comments Off on All of the Financial Loose Ends You Need to Tie Up Before Your Wedding
Nov 082014
 
Handling Financials Before Wedding

Photo: Getty Images

Alright, it's time for one of the least fun parts of wedding planning: Sorting out your joint finances! Whether or not you decide to sign a prenuptial agreement, there are still aspects of your union that need to be made official. It would be wise to sort out your wills and finances pre-"I do" to avoid any disasters down the line. Here, what exactly you need to arrange before you become a Mr. and Mrs.

First thing's first, you need to get your beneficiaries in order. That means everything from your insurance policies and retirement plan payouts need to be re-configured (this is, of course, with the assumption that the bride and groom want to make each other one another's beneficiaries). You should talk to your insurance company and payroll department to figure out which forms are necessary to make these changes. You will also need to adjust your wills to outline exactly who gets what now that you have a new husband or wife to make sure should something terrible happens, there's no dispute over property and money. And, last but certainly not least, you'll need to decide how you want to manage your bank accounts. This is a choice that's purely based on the couple's wishes. If you want to keep your separate accounts but open a joint one, you should arrange that pre-wedding. If you do choose to maintain separate accounts, but the bride is changing her name, she'll need to make sure she fills out the necessary paperwork for that as well.

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