The costs of weddings, like everything else, continue going up and up.

The costs of weddings, like everything else, continue going up and up. The average amount spent by couples here in Kansas last year was between $18,740 and $31,233. (And that is not even factoring in honeymoon expenses!) By far the largest part of a wedding’s expense is venue rental and catering. Next comes jewelry, then photography, then wedding planner costs. With so much to consider and so much money at stake, your Better Business Bureau has some tips for those starting to plan their weddings.
It’s vital to know how much you are going to be able to spend. Having a figure in mind will help you rule out those venues that cost more than you’re comfortable paying.
Consider:

The total number of guests you will have there. Whether some guests will have mobility issues or other special needs. Does the venue require that you use a particular caterer, rental company or designer? Are they full service, meaning do they provide such things as tables, chairs, linens and other catering? Does the venue have staff that will be on hand to help at the wedding? How often does the venue have weddings? For what do they charge extra fees? There may be “plate-splitting,” “cake-cutting” or “corkage” fees, for instance. Ask specifically whether their cost-per-person quote includes such fees. If the venue is a place of worship, ask what they require in the way of ceremonial procedures. Some may have religious specifications that you had not considered.
Check complaints and reviews about the venue with the BBB. Read carefully about any unresolved complaints.
See if they have a refund policy and get it in writing. Don’t overlook a “cold feet clause” no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
Get everything in writing, including the dates, prices, services and products discussed.
Get references and check them out. See what other couples’ experiences with the venue were like. Ask them if there were any surprises.
Watch for these issues that can complicate your wedding day:

Dress issues — Wrong sizes and colors of ordered gowns can be a problem when there is not enough time to make changes. Make sure the shop knows your schedule ahead of time. Check them out with the BBB. Transportation issues — Some limousine services have been known to have poor customer service and rigid cancellation policies. Ask about charges for needing vehicles longer than anticipated. Ask how they handle complaints. Get everything in writing and check the service out with the BBB. Photographers — Find out when and how pictures will be delivered. Get specifics about digital possibilities like DVDs, CDs, and how long you will have to make your choices. Ask for references and check the BBB for complaints. Musicians — Find out precisely who will be performing, their cost and how long they will perform. Ask about the cost of a last-minute extension of performance time. Get everything in writing. There is much to be considered and much at stake in the planning of a wedding. Trying to anticipate problems in advance can save last-minute headaches on your wedding day. For questions or concerns about wedding planning, contact your BBB by calling 1-800-856-2417, or visit http://www.bbbinc.org.