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Wedding Vendors: Tipping Cheat Sheet

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When you’re already dipping deep into your (or your parents’) savings for so many wedding expenses, shelling out gratuities on top of that can be hard to handle. Well, rest easy: unless a service charge is spelled out in your contract, you’re never obligated to tip anyone.

However you can’t ignore the fact that some vendors will expect a gratuity, which forces tipping to be considered on a case-by-case scenario. Some general rules: Don’t tip business owners, only tip their employees (however, you can/should tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations); tip vendors who offer exceptional service; thank-you notes are always appreciated; and assign the responsibility to a trusted deputy such as your wedding planner, a parent, or the best man. For a breakdown of what’s customary for each vendor, read on.

Wedding Planner
Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation. (Note: Non-monetary thank-yous like professional photos of the wedding for the planner’s portfolio can go a long way too.) Approximately 50 percent of couples do tip their planners — typically those with more opulent weddings.
Protocol: Optional
The $tandard: Up to $500, or a nice gift
When to Tip: The bride should hand off the envelope at the end of the reception, or, she should send a thank-you note with photos or a check after the honeymoon.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
This is one area where a gratuity is definitely expected. Tip between 15 – 20 percent just as you would in a hair salon, and consider giving a little extra if there’s a crisis, like one of your bridesmaids has a meltdown over her updo and it requires a redo at the last minute.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 25 percent, depending upon the quality of service
When to Tip: At the end of your service

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff
Slip a few dollars to anyone delivering important items to the site (wedding cake, flowers, or sound system). And if a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up (tents, chairs, or port-a-potties), the workers deserve a tip too.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: $5 – $10 per person
When to Tip: Drop off cash envelopes the day before the wedding to the catering manager so the person accepting deliveries can turn the tip.

Wedding Ceremony Officiant
If your officiant is affiliated with a church or synagogue, you’re often expected to make a donation to that institution. If you’re a member you’ll probably want to give a larger amount than if you’re not. However, if you’re getting married there and they’re charging you to use the space, feel free to give a smaller amount. If you’re using a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required because they will charge you for their time.
Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
The $tandard: Donate $500+ to the church or synagogue, or, for a nondenominational officiant, an optional tip of $50 – $100
When to Tip: Most ceremony fees are required prior to the wedding. Otherwise, have the best man pass the cash envelope at the rehearsal dinner if the officiant is in attendance.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
If you worked with a mini orchestra to come up with the perfect score for your service (and they pulled it off flawlessly), consider showing some monetary thanks for their talent. However, you probably don’t have to tip the solo church organist who was required to play.
Protocol: Optional
The $tandard: $15 – $20 per musician
When to Tip: At the end of the ceremony.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer
You’re not expected to give your shutterbugs any dough beyond their normal fees. Yet if the wedding photographer or videographer doesn’t own the studio, consider tipping each person (or give a certain amount with a thank-you note to disperse to staff).
Protocol: Unnecessary, unless the photographer is not the studio owner.
The $tandard: $50 – $200 per vendor
When to Tip: At the end of the reception.

Wedding Reception Staff
This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager. A service charge (typically 2 percent) is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract. If the gratuity is not included, tip as follows.
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the food and drink fee (based on labor, not the cost), or $200 – $300 for the maitre d’.
When to Tip: If it’s covered in the contract, the final bill is typically due before the reception. Otherwise, have the father of the bride or best man hand the envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception since you will need to know the final tab to calculate the percentage.

Wedding Reception Attendants
When it comes to bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, and coat-room attendants the rules of tipping are dictated by your contract. If the service fee is included, consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional. If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.
Protocol: Optional, based on contract
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room and parking attendants; $1 per car
When to Tip: Although tips are traditionally passed out at the end of the event, you could alternately distribute them at the beginning of the evening, to encourage all the workers to give you great service.

Wedding Reception Band or D
Whether you hire 12-piece swing band or grooving to a DJ, tipping musicians is completely optional. (Depending on the quality of the job and how willing they were to follow your ideal playlist!) And don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.
Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
The $tandard: $20 – $25 per musician; $50 – $150 for DJs
When to Tip: At the end of the reception, by the best man.

Wedding Transportation
Again, check your contract, as gratuity is usually included. If it isn’t, plan to tip provided they show up on time and don’t get lost!
Protocol: Expected
The $tandard: 15 – 20 percent of the total bill
When to Tip: At the end of the night or after the last ride. If you used a separate company for the guest buses, designate a bus captain to hand the driver a tip, otherwise, this duty falls to the best man.

Wedding Receptions: A Traditional Wedding Reception Timeline

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So you want your wedding reception to be the most talked about of the century — but don’t know the first thing about throwing a good party? The crucial thing to scoring a fabulous wedding celebration is knowing what’s supposed to happen when. So we’ve strung together a timeline, based on a traditional cocktail hour and a four-hour reception, to give you an hour-by-hour guide to the day’s postceremonial events. Get your stopwatches ready — the wedding reception countdown is about to begin.

00:00 | The Cocktail Hour
After being pronounced husband and wife, the newlyweds are often the first to leave the wedding ceremony, heading off (with photographer in tow) for pictures together before the partying gets under way. Your guests will head to the reception site for cocktails. Depending on the logistics of the event, your cocktail hour will begin immediately (if the ceremony and reception are held at the same venue), or it might start more than half an hour later (if there’s travel involved). Cocktails will kick off your reception and will last for at least an hour. During this time the staff will serve stationary or passed appetizers and drinks, which will get people mingling and in the mood. Don’t forget: Greeting your guests is essential! It’s customary for the couple, along with their parents and the wedding party, to form a receiving line outside the ceremony site to greet guests before the escape. Many couples these days are opting for this postceremony receiving line, rather than going from table to table during dinner. But if you haven’t done so, you should form one now.

01:00 | Newlyweds’ Arrival/First Dance
Here’s the part where the bride and groom make their grand entrance. The coordinator will usually make sure guests are seated before the emcee alerts them to your imminent arrival. Generally, both sets of parents and the wedding party are introduced, followed by the announcement of the couple for the first time as husband and wife. In many cases, your newlywed first dance will begin as you step out onto the floor and into the spotlight after being announced. Find your first dance music. Alternately, you can wait until after the first course of the meal is served, but since everyone is already cheering you as you enter the reception, use the applause as encouragement enough to skim away any shyness and step on out.

01:20 | Cheers & Toasts
Following your first dance, you might want to take the opportunity — while all eyes are still on you, since hopefully no one yet has had too much to drink — to thank everyone en masse for taking part in your wedding. A family member, often a parent of the bride, will say a blessing (depending on the families’ faiths). Then, since toasting signifies a transition in the course of an event, the mother and father of the bride will thank guests for attending and invite everyone to enjoy the celebratory meal. Keep in mind that the toasts given by the best man and the maid of honor should occur between courses, to spread out all the high-emotion, much-anticipated moments and keep guests in their seats.

01:30 | Mangia, Mangia
Time to dig into the main course. Get wedding reception food ideas. If you’re having a seated meal, the band or DJ will play subdued, conversation-friendly background music as the waitstaff makes the rounds. If you’re having a buffet, your coordinator, DJ, or bandleader will dictate how the rotation will work by calling each table when it’s time to head to the front of the line. Just remember: The bride and groom need to do everything possible to take their seats and eat!

02:45 | Party Time
Monkey-see, monkey-do is how this game is played. Guests are going to follow the lead of the bride and groom. Once dinner dishes are cleared, the newlyweds should be the first ones on the dance floor so people know it’s time to start partying. Find wedding music suggestions. Throughout the jammin’, the music will stop for any extracurricular activities you’ve planned (also known as the bouquet toss, the garter toss, the centerpiece giveaways, and whatever else you’ve dreamed up). If you do choose to toss the bouquet, make sure to get a tossing bouquet from the florist so you can keep your original one as a memento.

04:00 | Cake Cutting
About one hour before the conclusion of the reception, when the party starts getting a little too rowdy and the bar starts getting a little too empty, your waitstaff should start preparing tables for coffee and dessert. Since the cake cutting generally signals guests that it’s okay to leave soon thereafter, be sure not to do this too early or things could start wrapping up before you’re ready.

04:15 | Shake a Leg
Once the cake is cut, the band or DJ should start right back into swing and rock music for those wanting to trade in their slices for another turn on the dance floor.

04:45 | Last Dance
End your wedding on a high note and choose a dance song that will leave a lasting impression. You’ll want everyone to have a chance for one last twirl, so select something fast and festive.

05:00 | Final Farewell
Now the time has come to say good-bye. Your coordinator will usher everyone into the foyer or onto the steps outdoors so that as you make your grand exit from the reception, friends and family can blow bubbles, light sparklers, or toss rose petals — and cheer to your successful celebration and future together.

Wedding Receptions: 17 Ways to Spruce Up Your Site

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Want to know a little secret? Weddings aren’t just about getting married — they’re about showing off your style. Flowers are certainly the easiest and most dramatic way to perk up a room fast. Rule one: sweating the often overlooked small stuff — a pathway, for example — will make your site something special. It’s big-ticket embellishments tied together with often inexpensive details that really put the sizzle into your space. Read on for more of our favorite reception decorating ideas.

1. Match the mood
First things first: Whether you’re a city sophisticate or a laid-back beach bride, your site will influence most of your design decisions. If you haven’t yet decided on a decorating scheme, look to elements of the room for cues. A historic mansion is perfect for an all-white wedding; a wood-walled ballroom calls for 1920s elegance. You get the idea.

2. Create a common chord
Many brides shudder at the word “theme,” but we like to think of it as a subtle touch of style — a repeated design element that will make a lasting and personal impression on the space. Don’t get stuck on Chinese food containers and lanterns. A theme can be as loose as your color palette — a chic, natural way to unite a site. Plus, it will give you a great focal point to start your planning.

3. Make everyone look perfect
Carefully conceived lighting will brighten any room — and give your party a dramatic glow. Hire a lighting designer to focus guests’ attention where you want it (on the cake table, off an ugly dance floor). Trust us, it’ll be worth it. Colored gels will alter the intensity of the light stream to create a softer, more natural look. Think Cameron Diaz looks that good under halogen lights?

4. Look up
Stuck with an unsightly ceiling? Cover it up! Try draping hundreds of tiny white lights, swags of greenery, or coordinating fabric. Or go for the gusto and look into renting chandeliers. They’ll distract from the ceiling and give your room added radiance.

5. Look down
Don’t let a brown shag carpet dissuade you from booking your dream space. Hide that floor with ground-sweeping linens. Or cover it with a nice rental carpet, or a rented parquet wooden floor.

6. Furnish a spare space
An all-white, empty loft space may seem like the perfect blank canvas to work with, but keep in mind you’re starting from scratch. So yeah, it’s going to cost. Here’s a hint: Hit up tradition and go for something borrowed. We know one bride who used antique furniture from the shop she works at to fill the space with historic flair. Look to a movie prop company for cool finds like mirrors, chaise lounges, and filled bookcases.

7. Toil with texture
Think you’ve got the touch? Interesting materials and nature-driven accents are helping to turn boring ballrooms into designer showcases. How? Adding texture is one way: Faux fur, grapevines, and branches are just a few ideas. Huge kissing balls, tall trees adorned with lights, and bamboo shoots also help satisfy the senses.

8. Call for the wild
Brides are really warming up to outdoor weddings — probably because Mother Nature has taken care of the decorating budget! Take note of the surrounding wildflowers and choose your wedding blooms accordingly. Keep the carefree outdoor vibe in mind when styling your flowers — a tightly packed modern centerpiece might look totally out of place.

9. Think outside the space
We’re crazy for alfresco accoutrements like clothesline escort-card holders, mason jars filled with candles (collect them from garage sales throughout the year), hanging flower baskets, and 4-foot-high twig chandeliers. Here’s how: Bundle about 10 large sticks per chandelier, bind them together with wire, and string tiny twinkle lights all around them — you’ll turn a traditonal space into an enchanted forest.

10. Make a good first impression
Impress your guests with a grand entrance. Floral wreaths on doors, colorful candles (votives are great) atop every table, hurricane lanterns hanging from trees, luminaries lining the walkways, and other beautiful embellishments will give guests a lovely welcome to your event.

11. Monitor the hall
A real detail-oriented to-be-wed will even make over the hallways. Potted plants, trees, floral garlands, and trellises help to create a big impact on your space. There’s a trend for small, dramatic flower arrangements placed on the ground. One idea from an actual wedding: arrange huge amounts of tightly packed pansies to line the hallway leading to the bathroom.

12. Beautify the bar
Chances are the bar will be the hot spot at your wedding (you’ll have the bill to prove it!). So why not dazzle the rowdy revelers with colorful rented barware? Or go for over-the-top opulence and construct an entirely new bar — add bamboo, tropical parasols, and frozen drink machines. But whatever you do, don’t disrupt the bartender’s duties. Flowers on the bar will just get in the way.

13. Size up your tables
Peace-loving brides are turning to long banquet-style tables that evoke a more family-style feeling and lessen seating arrangement stress (a bit). If your room is more Marilyn than Twiggy, go for a mix of square and round tables in various sizes. Eclectic table arrangements allow you to seat groups of people much more easily because you’re not stuck with 10 to a table.

14. Take care of the chairs
The challenge: oh-so-blah burgundy chairs. The solution: chair covers. There’s nothing new about this idea, but funky fabrics are a great way to bedazzle a room. You could even dress your chairs with silk flowers, tulle, or leafy swags. Just make sure the seats are still comfortable to sit on!

15. Liven up the loo
Give bathroom-bound groups something to talk about. The restrooms will need a little attention, but you don’t have to go overboard. Think subtle sophistication: A centerpiece-evoking flower arrangement (like bunches of sweet-smelling lavender in small vases or wildflowers bundled in baskets), heart-shape soaps, or monogrammed hand towels will go a long way. Spruce up the women’s stalls with antique perfume bottles filled with your favorite scent, or a fragrance reminiscent of your bouquet.

16. Don’t get lost
If your reception site will also be home to the ceremony and cocktail hour, make sure there’s a natural flow between the spaces. Try to walk around with a partygoer’s eye. You may need to design cute signs that direct guests to where they need to be or to point out the restrooms. Here’s an idea: Attach your signs to a stake and stick them in big pots of darling wheatgrass for inexpensive, fun — and funky — markers.

17. Mind your manners
Much more than crumb-catchers, napkins are an easy way to add that extra little something to your reception tables. Using your wedding-day palette and choosing personalized napkin rings will definitely enhance the design, but we’re hooked on the art of folding: From a springlike tulip fold to the more difficult pocket fold that holds your menu card, origami cloth treatments equal elegance.

Wedding Reception Planning: Finding a Wedding Reception Location

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One of the first things you’ll think about after you’ve gotten engaged (beyond the dress of course) is find your wedding venue. Once you’ve have the right spot, all the rest of those wedding day details (color, style, decor etc.) should fall into place. What should you look for in your reception site (aside from that sense of rightness you know you’ll have the moment you see the perfect spot)? Keep these helpful hints top in mind.

A Roomy Fit
It sounds obvious (because it is) but make sure the room is large enough to accommodate the number of people on your guest list. The space may look enormous when it’s empty, but wedding essentials — tables, chairs, a buffet, a bar, the band or DJ setup, the dance floor — can take up a lot of space. Not to mention your guests will need some elbow room. Even if you choose an outdoor site, you’ll need ample room on the lawn, in the arboretum, or poolside. The best way to assess the size of a site? Ask to take a peek of the space when another wedding (with an equivalent guest list size) is all set up. Of course, if you decide you must have your wedding at your favorite bar (the one with one bathroom, two booths, and three feet of floor space), you can always work backward and tailor your guest list to match.

> Find wedding venues in your area
The site doesn’t have to be done in the exact colors as your planned decorations, but it shouldn’t clash or conflict with your party’s mood or theme.

Eating, Drinking and Partying Areas
There should be logical places within the space where guests can eat, drink, talk, and dance. When you’re standing in the space, try to envision where each activity would happen (especially if your ceremony will be there). If a room is too small to separate into sections accordingly, you will probably feel cramped. If it’s shaped like an S or some other oddball figure, that could compromise your party’s flow, as well. Also, note the locations of columns or other obstructions in the room — will they block people’s views of the dance floor or the cake table where the best man will give a toast?

> Get wedding reception decorating ideas
> Search reception venues by city
Privacy varies widely from place to place, as does the importance couples place on it. If you’re having a daytime event in a public spot, such as a park, beach or botanic garden, be prepared for strangers to trek past your party. They may even smile, wave, and come by to offer their good wishes. If this is okay with you, go for the park. If not, opt for a lawn on a private estate or golf course. Or, hold the reception at a restaurant or gallery that will allow you to buy it out (as in, guests-only). Be sure to ask about available security at your site to keep gate-crashers at bay.
In addition, don’t think that just because you’re indoors, you’re safe from uninvited guests. Banquet halls and hotels often hold more than one affair at a time. If there’ll be other events going on simultaneously in rooms close to yours, you may hear karaoke-loving guests singing their hearts out to the sounds of Madonna through the walls or meet them over the hot-air dryers in the bathroom. If this bothers you, try to schedule your wedding when there won’t be another one next door. If this is impossible, visit the site on a dual-party night and see how the sound carries and whether there really are any major people problems — before you make a decision.

Light can make — or break — the mood and the space. If you’re marrying during the day, make sure your hall has plenty of windows. Who wants to spend six hours in a dark room when the sun is shining? If it’s an evening affair, make sure the room’s not too dim — or that the lighting can be controlled for the big entrance, dinner, and dancing. If you’re marrying outdoors, say, at dusk, will you be able to set up candles if necessary?
Visit the site at the same time of day that you’ve chosen for your wedding. Even if the space looks romantic by candlelight, you may be surprised by the sight of that 20-year-old carpet during the day. You’ll also miss a chance to see how sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows completely transforms the room, if you only check it out in the evening.

A Great View
What will your guests see when they walk into the room? Whether it’s your city skyline, a stunning vista of rolling mountains beyond the windows, or the crashing sea on the sand behind you, exceptional locations with a view are always a plus. If there’s no view per se, look to a place’s decor or architectural details: artwork on the walls, fine Persian rugs on the floors, period furniture in the corners, or an amazing crystal chandelier as the room’s centerpiece all give your reception site that something extra.

The Right Color
If you’re considering a certain theme and color palette for your party — say, a modern lounge-style cocktail party reception done in black and red — those gold cord swag curtains are really going to wreck the effect. The site doesn’t have to be done in the exact colors as your planned decorations, but the walls, carpets, chairs, and curtains shouldn’t clash or conflict with your party’s mood or theme. If you want a spring wedding brunch, look for a space that’s done in light (perhaps pastel) colors or florals. For classic elegance, consider a room done in neutrals or black and white.

> Get top tips to choosing wedding colors

Ample Outlets
Be sure to take a thorough cruise around the room to see if it has lots of places to plug things in — especially if you’re partying in a place that’s not a regular spot for hosting weddings. Your main user of outlets will be the entertainment crew. Take note of where the outlets are; if their location will force your DJ to spin records in the bathroom (kidding, but you get the point), make sure she or he has plenty of extension cords.

Good Acoustics
If the place is too echoey, it could give some weird reverb to the band, not to mention make it difficult for guests to hear one another talking. A tile or wood floor, for example, will amplify sounds, while a thick carpet will tend to muffle them. Check out the room’s sound quality during an event. And tailor your music to the acoustic conditions. A jazz combo will sound better at an intimate art gallery than a 14-piece orchestra would (not to mention the fact that it takes up less floor space).

Plenty of Parking
Make sure the site is near a good parking lot, garage, or big, empty (safe) street where it’s legal to park. If parking is a problem, look for other ways to get everyone to the party. Can a shuttle bus or vans take guests from the ceremony to the reception? Inadequate parking isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it may mean spending more time and money to figure out a viable vehicular alternative.

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Wedding Planning: Wedding World Records

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Think you’ve been to some over-the-top weddings? Here are a few of the biggest, oldest, and most
expensive all-time wedding records, plus our take on how these impressive feats can inspire your own
Biggest Wedding Cake Ever
The towering wedding cake for Don Corleone’s daughter in The Godfather has nothing on the confection
baked by a team of 58 chefs at Connecticut casino Mohegan Sun in 2004. The seven-tiered cake weighed
more than 15,000 pounds (with nearly 5,000 pounds of frosting!) and required some cooking tools not
found in most kitchens — it took two forklifts to raise each tier.
Our take: The vanilla and almond frosting sounds delicious, but these days, bigger wedding cakes aren’t
always better. Cupcake stands in lieu of a wedding cake have been popular for a few years, and the
hottest trend in wedding cakes right now is serving small, two-tiered cakes that double as centerpieces
on each table.
Most Expensive Wedding
Though a billionaire Indian steel baron threw a $60 million wedding for his daughter in 2004, factor in
inflation and the most expensive wedding was a seven-day affair for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and his bride, Princess Salama. The 1981 wedding, which would cost $100
million today, included a stadium big enough for 20,000 wedding guests built especially for the
Our take: Every couple that struggles to stick to their wedding budget can learn a valuable lesson
here: The bigger the guest list, the bigger the bill. Invite 20,000 of your nearest and dearest, and a
price tag in the millions is understandable. If you’re looking for ways to save, though, start by
cutting your guest list.
Longest Wedding Dress Train
Here’s a real nightmare for the bride who worries about tripping on her train during her walk down the
aisle: The longest wedding train ever was 4,468 feet long, made by a bridal salon in Cyprus.
Our take: Your wedding dress is once-in-a-lifetime attire, and eye-catching details are great for the
bride who relishes being in the spotlight. But it could take hundreds of bridesmaids to manage nearly a
mile of fabric. Consider less hazardous add-ons, like silk flowers, lace cutouts, or intricate beading.
Oldest Bride
The oldest women to say “I do” was Minnie Munro, who was 102 years old when she married a man nearly 20
years her junior.
Our take: Amazing story, and totally in line with a trends we’ve seen for a while now, couples are
waiting until they’re a little older to get married, especially if they’re paying for their own
Oldest Bridesmaid
Next time you hear someone complain about being too old to be a bridesmaid, think about Edith Gulliford
of the UK, who was a bridesmaid at the age of 105.
Our take: Your bridesmaids should be the friends and family members closest to you. If one of those
people happens to be a centegenarian, all the better!
The Longest Engagement Ever
Octavio Guillen and Adriana Martinez from Mexico certainly didn’t rush down the aisle. The pair married
when they were both 82 years old, 67 years after getting engaged.
Our take: An extended engagement certainly has its benefits — some of the best wedding vendors book
more than a year in advance, so you’d have lots of time to plan ahead. But when an engagement turns
from years to decades, it’s worth having a discussion about potential commitment issues.
Biggest Dog Wedding
Residents of Littleton, Colorado, witnessed something in May 2007 that’s never been seen before or
since: the union of 178 canine couples.
Our take: We love the idea of including a pet in your wedding, but hundreds of dogs make for pretty
substantial postwedding cleanup. Stick to training your dog to walk your rings down the aisle.


Wedding Planning: Wedding Insurance 101

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Though you might not want to think about it, disasters can strike your wedding day. From a sudden cancellation to stolen gifts to a damaged gown, wedding insurance can help protect you against the unforseen, and can also afford you great peace of mind. But what exactly is wedding insurance — and how does it work? Here’s the inside scoop.
What Is Wedding Insurance?
Basically, wedding insurance protects a couple’s investment from circumstances beyond their control, and reimburses expenses incurred. For example, what if your limo driver doesn’t show up and you have to book another one the morning of the wedding — for three times the price? Or what if the groom’s custom-made tuxedo is lost in airport baggage, and he has to buy a new one the day before the wedding? What if your reception space goes out of business a month before the wedding, and you lose your deposit and have to book another space? These are the types of big-day financial losses that wedding insurance can help to protect.
Why Get Wedding Insurance?
Consider these scenarios:
Before you buy wedding insurance, check with your each of your vendors to see how well they’re covered.
Janet and Dan spend months planning their winter wedding. But on wedding day, their reception site is made inaccessible by an ice storm. With the right wedding insurance policy, the couple can postpone their wedding and receive every penny they lost (less the deductible) — including money for the invites, cake, catering, attire, and non-refundable deposits for ceremony musicians, floral designer, and other vendors.
The bride’s father is injured in a car accident just before the wedding and cannot travel. If the couple has to postpone their wedding, with wedding insurance they could be paid back their expenses to enable them to have the wedding when the father recovers.
Right before the ceremony, Brittany’s gown catches a gust of wind. Unfortunately, the tulle dances right over to the end of Uncle Howard’s cigar and the dress instantly goes up in flames. Fortunately, the right insurance policy covers the replacement of the veil and gown.
How Much Does Wedding Insurance Cost?
A basic insurance policy that covers loss of photos, videos, attire, presents, rings, and deposits usually costs anywhere between $155 and $550, depending on the amount of coverage you want. General liability insurance, which covers up to $1,000,000 for accidents, costs around $185.
Do You Really Need Wedding Insurance?
Before you buy wedding insurance, check with your each of your vendors to see how well they’re covered — your reception site or your caterer may already have their own insurance, so you wouldn’t want to pay for overlapping coverage out of your own pocket. Ask your vendors for a copy of their policy, and then figure out where you aren’t fully covered.
When Should You Get Wedding Insurance?
The sooner the better. Let’s say you put a deposit on your wedding reception hall 12 months prior to your wedding date and then it burns to the ground a few weeks before the big day. With wedding insurance, you’ll be sure to get your deposit back. But note: most insurance companies have limitations on how far in advance you can purchase insurance.
What Does Wedding Insurance Cover?
Problems with the site, weather, vendors, key people, sickness, or injury are the top concerns come wedding day. There is usually a specified maximum amount, which can be claimed under each section, and a deductible also applies. Be sure to find out the details of your insurance plan.
Site: Check to see if your ceremony and reception site is already insured. If it’s not, wedding insurance can cover the cost arising out of unavoidable cancellation (such as damage or inaccessibility to the ceremony site), if your reception hall is unable to honor your reservation because it has burned in a fire, experienced an electrical outage, or just plain closed down. Sometimes this policy covers the rehearsal dinner site, too.
Weather: Any weather conditions which prevent the bride, groom, any relative whose presence at the wedding is essential, or the majority of the guests from reaching the premises where the wedding is to take place. Insurance covers rescheduling the wedding and all the details involved — such as ceremony flowers, tent rental, and reception food.
Vendor No-show: What if essential wedding people — the caterer or the officiant, for example — fail to show up? A wedding insurance policy usually covers cancellation or postponement of the wedding for these reasons.
Sickness or Injury: Wedding insurance may also include sickness or injury to the bride, groom, or anyone essential to the wedding.
Military or Job: It’s true, military personnel may be shipped out at a moment’s notice. Wedding insurance can cover postponement of the wedding due to the bride or groom suddenly getting called to military duty. This can also apply to a last-minute corporate move — i.e. the bride’s company suddenly relocates her to another city.
Wedding Insurance Doesn’t Cover…
A change of heart. In other words, cold feet don’t count.
Watches, jewelry, or semi-precious gemstones or pearls (even if they are attached to clothing) may not be covered.
While your wedding rings may be covered by the policy, your engagement ring probably will not.
Additional Coverage
Couples can take out supplemental policies to defend against damages incured by other wedding-related items such as photography, videography, and gifts.
Photography: Some policies pay to retake the photographs after the fact if the photographer fails to appear or the original negatives are lost, damaged, stolen, or not properly developed. Some policies will pay to re-stage the event — with the principal participants so that pictures can be retaken. A policy may also pay costs for rehiring a photographer, buying a new wedding cake, and new flowers.
Videographer: When a videotape produced by a professional videographer is damaged (he or she used faulty materials for example), a policy usually pays a certain amount to have either a video montage created, a video compilation made of the photographs and other wedding memorabilia, or, if possible, a retaking of the official video at a restaging.
Gifts: Whether they’re mailed to your home or handed to you on your wedding day, valuable items like gifts are something else you might want to consider insuring. Think about a party crasher lifting unattended presents from your reception. Gift coverage pays to repair or replace non-monetary gifts that are lost, stolen, or damaged. A police report is usually required for stolen gifts. The damage or theft generally has to take place within a limited time period (ranging from 24 hours to seven days depending on the specific policy) before or after the wedding, in order to be covered.
Attire: This coverage pays to repair or replace the bridal gown or other special attire when it is in your possession and is lost, stolen, or damaged (including financial failure of the bridal store). Special attire usually includes the clothing and accessories bought or rented that are to be worn by the bride, the groom, and attendants at the ceremony.
Personal Liability: Personal liability covers bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident that occurs during the course of the wedding (your best man trips and falls on his way up to the mike to roast you or Uncle Murray suffers a Harvey Wallbanger wall banger).
Medical Coverage: This covers reasonable medical expenses (up to the policy’s limits) for each person who is injured during the covered events from a cause of loss, which would be covered by your personal liability.
Honeymoon: Your honeymoon can cost as much as a new car. But before buying travel insurance to protect your investment, see if your credit card and/or homeowner’s policy covers you if your luggage gets lifted, your trip is delayed, or you have to cancel. If not, you can a buy separate, trip-only policy. Call your insurer, or ask your travel agent for details. Also, certain wedding insurance packages include optional travel insurance for your honeymoon.
Things to Consider
Every insurance policy and every wedding scenario is different. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent — and have him or her explain the nuts and bolts to you. You want to make sure you and your sweetie understand every detail of your policy.


Wedding Planning: Worst Wedding Nightmares

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“I had a dream the night before the wedding that one of the wedding photographers came into my room the
morning of the wedding day while I was still sleeping and started taking pictures, like those were part
of the ‘getting ready’ shots. I was appalled!”
— Brady, Des Plaines IL
“I dreamt that when we checked in to the hotel the afternoon of the rehearsal, all of the suites,
including the one we reserved, were taken. When I asked the receptionist why, she replied that Johnny
Depp, Alan Rickman, and Tim Robbins were filming a movie, and that they’d taken all of the hotel rooms.
I started yelling, ‘But I’m getting married here tomorrow, you have to give us a room!'” She took me
into a conference room, where Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, and Tim Robbins were already seated. They sat
me down and told me that I should stop being so selfish because they had a job to do.
“I woke up and thought, Why can’t I have a normal nightmare, like forgetting my dress? Alan Rickman?
— Caitlin, Baltimore, MD
“My God…recurring dreams, every single night! I’d dream that I wasn’t at the wedding; that my fiancee
wasn’t at the wedding; I was stuck on a plane; I was a werewolf; I was a vampire; that I wasn’t
suitable and her parents hated me; that all my family showed up (that was the worst one).”
— Ron, Blacksburg, VA
“I dreamt that I was marrying a man with a body but no face.”
— Robin, Leesburg, VA
“I had a recurring dream that it was the day of my wedding, and I hadn’t bought a wedding dress yet. I
had to find something to put on, so I wore a green printed moo moo with a scarlet red leotard
underneath. Analyze that!”
— Alison, Islamorada, FL
“I had a nightmare that I was going to fall out of the chair during the horah — and then it actually
happened to my husband!”
— Lindsay, New York, NY
“I dreamt that our reception was in a hot attic and my wedding cake melted everywhere, and our guests
were coming up to tell me how awful everything was!”
— Amber, Columbus, OH
“I had a dream that I was about to walk down the aisle with my father when another girl shot out right
in front of me and started walking down the aisle. Everyone stood up and burst into smiles as the girl
walked toward my fiance. My fiance then took her hand and the ceremony began. I just stood at the back
of the church with my father and watched it all happen!”
— Deborah, Leola, PA
“I dreamt that all the reception tables were set up in a maze and my fiancee and I were searching for
the cake while people were trying to give us toasts, and we kept on interrupting them to ask about the
cake. I woke up sweating.”
— Jason, Oakland, CA
“In my dream, we’d just arrived at the church when we realized that I had nothing to wear for the
ceremony. Just as I was about to have to walk down the aisle in my undergarments, my mom declared,
‘Wait! I’ll make you one!’ So she ran to the bathroom and got several rolls of toilet paper. In a
matter of seconds, she had fashioned a dress together out of it. So I got married in my toilet paper
dress, and my dream had a happy ending!”
— Lauren, Dallas, TX