Archive for May 23rd, 2007

Warning: Budget-Bu$ting “Hidden Cost$” Ahead

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

It is hard enough to keep your special event on budget without “hidden” costs, which – for purposes of this discussion – will be defined as “any fee (no matter how small) which is not specifically and explicitly spelled out to you, prior to purchase.”

A few of these budget wreckers, found only in the fine print, are:

Gratuities. When you go to a restaurant, your waiter’s tip is based on the quality of his service. But the venue for your big event may include a predetermined level of “gratuity.” 15% is common, and you are charged whether the service is exemplary – or not.

“Corking” fees. You expected to pay for each bottle of wine or champagne. But what? You mean you actually wanted those bottles opened?

Valet. Some venues that offer “free” valet parking still charge you for each car. Three to five dollars per vehicle, multiplied by 100 autos = $300 – $500 more out of your pocket.

PA System. Want a microphone? That’s $35. Want it on a stand? $15 more. Your venue may not charge for this, but you need to know in advance if they do.

Electricity. If your band or deejay requires extra electrical power to run their sound and lights, many venues are happy to “drop” a quad box to them – for $50.

Staging. Would you like a podium on a small stage, with steps leading up, and an attractive black skirting around the base? What’s it worth to you?

Piano. Your venue probably has a piano. Can you use it? Sure! But what will it cost you? (Often, you are charged both for moving the piano and for tuning it.)

Food. No – not your food. We’re talking about the meal you agreed to provide your band or deejay (clause number 77 in their contract’s fine print.) If they also require a “break room” in which to enjoy this food during their intermissions, the venue can charge you for this, as well.

Taxes. After the venue, caterer, A-V company, and musicians are through destroying your budget – here comes the governor! State and local taxes add yet another 8% or more to your final costs.

Sadly, this is only a partial list of your potential “hidden” costs (be sure to check on cash bar and “security” fees, too.) My advice: ask lots of questions and get everything in writing. Otherwise, prepare for your budget to budge, bulge, then burst.