For some Milwaukee brides and grooms, the cost of their wedding isn’t an issue. For the rest of us, we try and save money anywhere we can. A good place to start is with your reception hall – make sure to talk to your hall’s manager about any hidden costs that might pop up and how to avoid them. Below is a list of some of the most common hidden costs that reception halls charge. Depending on the venue, there might be ways around them – so make sure to ask and get everything in writing!
Most reception halls require a per slice cake cutting fee of $1.00 to $2.00.
How to avoid this fee?
- Serve cupcakes. This is a hot trend that can be even more satisfying for your guests. Set up a table with the cupcakes displayed and guests can pick up the cupcake themselves, also allowing a varying array of flavors for your guests to choose from. Leftovers can be sent home with your guests too. Metro Market in downtown Milwaukee has beautiful cupcakes that you can order large numbers of with a few weeks advance notice and they are only $1.99 each!!
- Have a dessert table. Inquire from your reception hall contact whether you can bring in homemade treats or desserts made by an outside party, such as a grocery store. Some locations will not allow homemade treats, but it can’t hurt to ask. I did this for my wedding at the Astor Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. The benefit to this is guests can choose desserts they prefer to eat, and any leftovers can either go home with guests or be eaten at the gift opening the next day. Be sure to bring to go containers for the leftovers.
- Side Note: If you still want to partake of the cake cutting tradition, order a small cake that you and your spouse can cut, feed each other, smash in each other’s face, or whatever strikes you in the moment. Madeline cakes from Metro Market work perfect and you can get them in your wedding colors. See this MarriedInMilwaukeeprofile picture for an example.
Reception hall service charge is often calculated using the event’s grand total including rental fees and other miscellaneous charges.
How to avoid excessive service charge fees?
- Choose a reception location without a rental fee. In general, hotels do not have room rental fees if you reach a minimum in food and beverage charges. Halls that are not affiliated with a hotel often charge a room rental ranging from $500 – $2000 or more regardless of how much is spent on food and beverage. Another benefit to having your wedding reception at a hotel is you may get your bridal suite free. Be sure to ask if this is an option, or negotiate it as part of your entire cost package.
Many reception hall locations have preferred vendors that may be more costly than non-preferred vendors.
How to avoid overpriced vendors?
- Do your homework. It is perfectly acceptable to get your reception hall’s listing of preferred vendors for items such as wedding cakes, flowers, djs, bands, etc. However, when looking at the fees from these vendors be sure to do some outside research. Inquire of potential “non-preferred” vendors their costs for similar services you may request from the preferred vendors. Remember, there can be a one-stop convience benefit about using your reception hall’s preferred vendors, but don’t take your reception hall representative’s word for it. Do your own research so you can feel comfortable with the vendor you decide on.
- Side Note: Be sure to inquire whether you can use outside vendors at all, or if there is an additional cost to doing so. Most places don’t restrict vendor options this severely; however, they may place other restrictions on your chosen vendor that you have not even thought about (i.e. DJ sound system requirements, bakery must be certified, etc.) Be sure to ask these questions too.
- Obtain vendor references. Ask both preferred and non-preferred vendors for former customer references and use MarriedInMilwaukee.com as a resource for vendor reviews as well. This will help you determine the quality of service along side with the cost to make a thorough and educated decision. It is important to remember you may be getting what you pay for, but not always.
Rental fees and food minimums / costs are generally higher for high demand nights and seasons.
How to take avoid these additional costs?
- Have you’re wedding on a non-peak night. Friday night or Sunday afternoon for example usually have minimums that can be thousands of dollars less than a Saturday night. An additional benefit to a Sunday wedding is brunch or lunch entrees can be much less expensive than dinner entrees, and your bar bill will likely be less than for Friday or Saturday night. With this option though it is important keep in mind some potential negatives. Friday weddings that occur during the afternoon usually require people to take off work to attend. This could limit the number of people who can make it to the ceremony. Sundays can be challenging too if you’d prefer to have a big party with dancing late into the night. Sundays are not usually late nights for most people.
- Have your wedding during the off-season. Here in Milwaukee, off-season is generally October/November through March/April, but this can vary by location. Late Spring, Summer and Early Fall weddings are prime as the weather is a little more predictable, usually warmer and less chance of snow. The advantage to having your wedding during the off season is the food and guest minimums are often lower, as are the rental fees. Additionally, if you are having your wedding reception at a hotel, the room blocks you reserve are often less expensive during off season as well.