Ask The Wedding Expert

Burgh Brides answers some frequently asked wedding planning questions to help get that walk down the aisle started off on the right foot.
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What are reasonable prices for a photographer, florist, wedding planner, and other vendors? 
The trouble with the term “reasonably priced” is that it can mean something different to everyone. What might be affordable for one couple may be entirely out of the budget for another. Moreover, prices can range widely based on a vendor’s experience, availability and package inclusions. For example, you may be able to find a novice photographer for less than $2,000, whereas a seasoned photographer’s packages generally start around $3,500-$4,000. Be leery of deals that seem too good to be true.

Will buying our own alcohol really save us money? 
Yes and no. BYOBing is less expensive, but it can also be a lot of extra work. You’ll need to calculate the correct amounts of liquor, beer and wine as well as ice, mixers, glasses, stirrers, cocktail napkins and other bar supplies, then purchase, store and transport it all to your venue. On top of all that, you’ll still need to hire bartenders. It can be cost effective but also a big investment of your time!

What vendors should I tip and how much should I give them? 
Check your contracts thoroughly. Some vendors, such as your limo driver or caterer, may already charge a gratuity. Most, however, will leave it up to your discretion. Hair stylists and makeup artists should receive the standard 18%-20%. Beyond that, it really is up to you. Tips certainly are not required, but if you feel your vendor has gone above and beyond, show your gratitude. A tip doesn’t have to be cash. Gift cards, small gifts, a hand-written thank you note, and glowing online reviews are always appreciated.

What decor element will make the biggest impact? 
The easiest and most cost-effective way to transform a reception space is with lighting — it can change the look of a room instantly. Uplights on the walls, pin spots on your centerpieces, strings of bistro lights, or even a custom monogram on the dance floor will create an ambiance your guests won’t soon forget.

Victoria Deardorff is the owner and editor of Pittsburgh’s wedding blog, Burgh Brides ( Look for her column in Pittsburgh Magazine.

Categories: Weddings