by: Kelly Fowler

[Editor’s Note: In an effort to provide you with the most accurate and candid information, this Tips & Advice post was written especially for ELD readers by one of our verified and vetted V List Vendors, Kelly of Just Save The Date Events! Read on to find out more on the “surprise” catering costs that you need to be budgeting for!]

As if researching venues and catering services wasn’t hard enough, chances are good that you have (or will) run across some of the pesky common “++” (plus-plus) signs that leave you wondering, “What are those? Why are they here?  Could it be a typo? Is danger ahead?” All joking aside, this is a frequent question we get from a lot of our clients and being that wedding season is upon us, we thought we would give you a little insight on this familiar (and somewhat confusing) topic.  

The Surprise Catering Costs You Need To Budget For via TheELD.com

The infamous “plus-plus is something that many people are unaware of, yet it can inflate your budget quickly. We know this can be confusing to someone that is not versed in the ways of catering and party planning, and if you forget about them as you are planning your wedding (and the budget), they can quickly put you over the edge.

So what does “plus-plus” (++) mean?

 
“Plus-plus” refers to service charges and/or gratuity and taxes. These fees are added on top of the base price for say, the per person cost of the food that you are planning to serve to your guests. Menus for catering typically list the base price with the plus-plus added on. It usually looks like this: $85++. Many couples are amazed at how complicated that little “++” can be. It seems so easy to just plug that $85/person into your budget and know how much your banquet will cost – but you would end up with the wrong number. This is one place where couples (and those who do not usually handle catering) often get into trouble.

Service charges vary by specific company, although different hotels, restaurants, and catering companies within a city or geographical area typically have similar rates. (22% is a common rate where I am located in Key West.) The services fees usually include gratuity for the catering staff (servers, bussing staff, bartenders), kitchen expenses, and additional catering staff (Sales Manager), and it also goes towards the overall cost of doing business- i.e. trucks, gas, etc.

Also, remember that service charges are taxable. Taxes are set by cities and states and are one of the few items that hotels and caterers really cannot negotiate away. After all, they still have to pay those taxes to the city or state whether they collect them from you or not (unless you are lucky enough to be tax exempt).

The Surprise Catering Costs You Need To Budget For via TheELD.com

Planning & Design: Just Save The Date/ Photographer: KLK Photography
See more: An Eclectic Key West Wedding

 
Here is a quick example:

A wedding buffet menu is priced at $85 per person (base price). If you are feeding 100 people and have a budget of $9,000, it looks like you are OK. However, remember that the rate is actually $85++, so you have to take service charges and tax into account to know if you are really under budget. If we assume a 22% service charge and 7.5% in state and local taxes, then the total for your dinner is not $8,500 but instead would be $11,447.50 – a difference of almost $3,000!

What the ++ adds up to represents a huge amount to a couple on a tight budget. Even large weddings with much larger food budgets can get into trouble if the couple forgets to include tax and service charges in their budgeting.

Remember, if you are unsure of a specific charge when looking at a Banquet Event Order, or BEO as they are commonly referred, be sure to ask your Wedding Planner or Sales Manager at your venue or catering company.  Every caterer and venue is different, so check with your caterer, planner or venue during the booking process. They can help you read through the proposal/BEO and answer any questions you may have about charges, gratuity, fees, etc.  It’s better to ask questions and be informed than to be surprised with additional charges you weren’t planning for.

Keeping an eye on your food budget can be tricky with any wedding, but if you remember to budget for the plus-plus, then at least you won’t find yourself tripped up by these charges and you will be able to relax and enjoy your big day!



by: Carly

If we had to choose two things we love to see at weddings, we will always choose fun couples and bright colors! Lauren and Matt’s colorful wedding took place just outside of Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia at the DeKalb History Center – Old Courthouse on the Square. The venue is filled with exquisite arches, marble, and columns – the perfect space to turn into a delightfully elegant soiree. The duo recited their vows in front of a wall of hanging florals, and the same space was then transformed to host guests for their reception where the dance floor always remained full. Bright turquoise, beautiful blooms, and a couple who cannot help but laugh filled Lauren and Matt’s wedding to the brim, and you’re absolutely going to love the images captured by Scobey Photography!

An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com An Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.comAn Elegant & Colorful Wedding via TheELD.com

The combination of shades of turquoise with lavender and pink is absolutely gorgeous! This might be my new favorite color palette y’all!

 

Vendors who made it all happen…

Photographer: Scobey Photography / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Everything and More / Reception Venue: DeKalb History Center - Old Courthouse on the Square / Band: Empire Band / Catering: Sun in my Belly / Makeup Artist: Kara Ramos / Hairstylist: Melrose & McQueen / Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn / Cake Baker: The Cake Hag


by: Lauren

A chic, romantic style and my favorite city ever (St. Petersburg, Florida) combine to create the most fabulous navy, pink and gold wedding I’ve seen yet! Navy and white stripes, gold glitter accents, and bold pops of pink are just the start of this amazing wedding. The couple’s pup as the “best pup”, a ceremony under one of Florida’s iconic banyan trees, and gorgeous pink florals were all captured perfectly by Marc Edwards Photographs. The beautiful bride, Hillary, is here with us today to share more insight into the planning and execution of her wedding day…

A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com

What (or who) helped you most in your planning process and/or on your wedding day?

Without a doubt, my wedding planner, Kimberly, helped me the most with my planning. We decided we wanted to plan our wedding in St. Pete, Florida, where we had recently moved, so we were clueless where to start! Kimberly created a month to month timeline with what we needed to accomplish each month. This way, we didn’t stress about getting everything done at once and we could enjoy everything step by step.

A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com

What was the most important thing to you when deciding who to work with for your wedding?

The most important thing we looked for when choosing our vendors was experience. We wanted to be able to enjoy every second of our wedding day, so we wanted people that had proven they know what they are doing. We looked at reviews and pictures, when we could, so we could be confident the choices we made.

A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com

What was your inspiration for your wedding details and/or design?

When I first thought about my wedding, I imagined a very clean, white palette with touches of gold. After selecting The Museum of Fine Arts as our reception venue, we decided that we needed more color. Because the museum was such a blank slate, we had so many options to decide from. I found a picture of a coral peony which I feel in love with. I loved the pinks shades and yellow center. My husband really wanted to wear a navy suit so we brought navy in as a primary color. We found a navy and white striped linen and brought in bright pinks, golds and greens to complete the palate.

A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?

My favorite thing about our wedding was the ceremony. One of the reason’s we chose our venue was because of the outdoor area we could use for the ceremony. There was a huge, beautiful banyan tree that we draped with flowing, white fabric and a hanging chandelier. My uncle married us and we wrote our own vows, which made it super personal. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted it to look and feel like from the beginning and when it all came out that way, I was thrilled.

A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com A Chic Navy, Pink and Gold Wedding via TheELD.com

What is your best piece of advice for other brides?

Make a timeline by giving yourself tasks to do each month leading up to your wedding day. This will help make sure you don’t forget about anything big, but also make the process so much more manageable. Stressing doesn’t help, either. Just know that everything will come together and it will be worth it!

Oh I love all of Hillary’s advice! And most of all, I love that she and CJ chose to get married in my absolute favorite place! Of course the fabulously stylish color palette and navy and white stripes are pretty amazing too.

How about you- will you be incorporating color into your own wedding like Hillary and CJ did?

 

Vendors who made it all happen…

Photographer: Marc Edwards Photographs / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Kimberly Hensley Events / Reception Venue: Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg FL / Catering: Olympia Catering & Events / Flowers & Decor: Iza's Flowers / Rentals: us tent rentals / DJ: Hardy & Co. Dj services / Beauty: The Station / Beauty: Brighteyes Aesthetics LLC / Ceremony Musicians: Bella Musica / Band: Bay Kings Band


by: Lauren

We’re big fans of color here at Every Last Detail, and today’s inspiration showcases some absolute beauty! Bold, rich tones of plum, blackberry, and red combined with subtle touches of gold and pink make this the perfect inspiration for a romantic Chicago loft wedding. A stylish bride and groom are an exquisite match for a modern setting and elegant design, and Robyn Rachel Photography captured the design and details beautifully! Sit back and enjoy friends!

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From Robyn Rachel Photography:

Room 1520 was the perfect fit for this styled shoot, giving us the opportunity to meld simple architectural elements with a rich color palette inspiring any bride who isn’t afraid of color. We melded dense textural florals in hues of marsala, cranberry, fuchsia, plum, and peaches with soft greens with created a perfect balance. The bowls of fresh blackberries and grapes, mix-matched china, gold flatware, and die-cut chargers added to the dimension of each place setting. The model bride wore a collection of Couture dresses from Belle Vie Bridal to compliment the unstructured bouquet and custom created headpiece. Amy Beck Cake created a work of art full of detail that would inspire any bride. To round out the shoot, Kustom Kreations designed beautiful scalloped menu cards, signage for each setting, and an invitation with soft feminine lines in a classic gold.

This color palette is truly inspiring, don’t you think? I think it would be perfect for any season and any location!

 

Vendors who made it all happen…

Photographer: Robyn Rachel Photography / Reception Venue: Room 1520 / Event Designer: A Stem Above / Cake Baker: Amy Beck Cake Design / Invitations & Stationery: Kustom Kreations / Rentals: Tablescapes Event Rentals / Linens: BBJ Linen - Chicago / Bridal Salon: Bella Bleu Bridal / Beauty: Drop By Gorgeous / Makeup Artist: Andie Cumber / Model: Ageny Galetea / Groom’s Attire: Formally Modern Tuxedo