Picking out a gorgeous wedding dress... Listening to talented bands and amazing DJs... Tasting delicious, multi-tiered wedding cakes... When it comes to the really exciting aspects of planning a wedding, managing vendor payments probably isn't top of your list, but, regardless of how dull it can sound, it all has to be handled and in a timely and responsible manner. With that in mind, here are some topics that you may come across when it comes to paying your wedding vendors.
Most vendors divide their fees into a fee schedule so you pay a portion at a time.I recommend you discuss payment options and potential payment plans as early as possible with your vendors. You don't want to have to shell out a ton of money upfront so see if you can divide the total cost into thirds due upon signing an agreement (the deposit), a month before the big day, and then the balance due at your wedding.
Checks Versus Credit Cards
While credit cards may seem faster and more convenient, vendors are hit with fees every time you swipe some plastic instead of writing a check. So think about asking what everyone prefers, just as a courtesy. And for those who don't mind you using credit, you can rack up points if you use a rewards card, which can go towards paying off your wedding bills or taking a honeymoon.
Destination weddings can get a little tricky when it comes to moving money around. An out-of-state check larger than $10,000 can be held up to seven days, which means late payments and frustrated vendors. Save everyone the headache and confusion by discussing payment early and often, and then building in extra time (at least a week) for the check to transfer.
The Bar Tab
Many catering halls and wedding venues will allow you to choose between paying a flat, per-person rate or shelling out per-drink based upon consumption. While some professionals can help you estimate how much your guests will be imbibing, you know them best and can probably better predict their drinking habits at a big celebration. It's wise to consider the per-person option so you know what you're paying before the party even begins. It prevents you from being caught off guard with a big bill at the end of the festivities.
Whether you're kicking it old-school with pen and paper files or whipping up spreadsheets electronically, make sure to record every invoice you receive and every check you write. I recommend you list all due dates (with reminders!), method of payment, and which vendor you're paying, while asking for receipts every step of the way. It's better to be over-organized than to be unsure who you've already paid.
Just like you'd tip your waiter or waitress 10-20 percent on your bill, you should think about leaving the same for each service vendor in addition to whatever their fee may be. After all, they are providing a service and paying their own overhead and bills. The above number is merely a suggestion, but usually a good rule of thumb to follow based upon how most couples handle gratuities around their wedding. A tip is always greatly appreciated, especially considering how people like your photographer and florist are giving up nights and weekends with their own friends and family in an effort to make you and yours happy.