6 wedding expenses you should always charge on credit
mishaps can turn any mild-mannered bride into a bridezilla, but they happen all
the time, no matter how prepared you thought you were for the big day.
may deliver your bouquet to the wrong address. Or the reception
venue goes out of business just days before your wedding. Or maybe the caterer's appendix
bursts and she's laid up in the hospital.
the disaster, you may be able to prevent an ill-timed snafu from turning into
financial regret if you use a credit card, rather than cash or checks, to pay
for certain expenses.
for my 2005 wedding with a credit card and I am glad I did," says one-time
bride Alexandra Chauran of Issaquah, Wash. When the beer keg she rented jammed
at her reception, Chauran asked the vendor for her money back. No luck. "The
company that rented it to me refused to refund my money," she says. "So I just
disputed the charge with my credit card company and got all my money back that
As Chauran found, paying for
goods and services with a credit card, rather than cash, gives you extra
ammunition to fight back against vendors -- and potentially recover your losses
-- in the event that something goes wrong.
The federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute billing errors, including those for goods and services you didn't accept or that weren't delivered as agreed, as long as you dispute it within 60 days after the first bill containing the disputed charge was received.
In addition to the limited protections provided under the law, if you are unsatisfied with the quality of the goods or service, and aren't able to get satisfaction from the merchant, most credit card issuers will investigate, and may step in on your behalf and
charge a purchase back to the vendor.
There are limits to the charge-it wedding strategy, however. For one, make sure you don't charge more than your wedding budget allows, says Gail
Cunningham, vice president of public relations at the National Foundation for
Credit Counseling. "If you do charge your wedding expenses, commit to paying
them off in no more than three months," says Cunningham. "Starting a marriage
with one foot in a financial hole is not a honeymoon."
Tips to avoid post-wedding debt
Before you whip out your credit card to pay for the deposits for your first-choice
wedding vendors, it's wise to add up the total cost and get serious about your
"It's easy to charge all these things, and if you're not keeping track of expenses, they can add up very quickly," says wedding planner Gail Johnson. If your
wedding expenses exceed the amount you've saved, "scale back the wedding," she says.
you rethink some of your expenses -- and get some inspiration for a chic event
that doesn't blow your budget -- here some budget-friendly wedding blogs that are
packed with smart advice:
So assuming you're borrowing responsibly, here are six wedding-related expenses experts recommend you charge with a credit card -- just
Unless you're planning a quickie elopement or a simple backyard affair, you can expect to spend a lot on deposits, often months in advance of your wedding.
vendors require a deposit upfront in order to reserve their services on your
wedding date. However, a lot can happen in between the time you sign up with a
vendor and your wedding day.
wedding venue you scoped out months before your wedding may file for
bankruptcy, leaving you without a place to get married. Or the makeup artist
you hired may be missing in action just hours before you're supposed to walk
down the aisle.
why it's usually a good idea to charge your deposit, rather than pay for it in cash, says Gail Johnson, a wedding planner based in Decatur, Ga. That way, you can file a dispute with your credit card
company and potentially get your money back. The card issuer is not obliged to repay you on behalf of a bankrupt merchant, since bailing you out would leave the issuer holding the bag, not you. But it might.
2. Wedding planner
Many wedding planners will charge a hefty retainer fee
upfront that, like a deposit, guarantees that the planner will be available for
Unlike some deposits, however, "retainers are not
refundable," says Johnson, which can make choosing the wrong wedding planner an
especially costly mistake.
Most planners will charge extra fees for services well in
advance of the wedding. That can add up to thousands of dollars in lost fees if
your wedding planner fails to provide the services he or she promised.
To minimize the costs of picking a bad planner, it's a good
idea to charge any additional fees with your credit card. Check the agreement carefully -- before you pay that nonrefundable retainer -- to make sure you're not required to pay for some services in cash.
3. Services you
expect to receive on the day of your wedding
Problems with wedding-day vendors, including photographers,
florists and DJs, are the top cause of claims filed by couples under their wedding
according to an analysis of claims released in March 2013 by the insurance company Travelers.
If you're not willing to shell out for wedding insurance --
a type of policy that covers unforeseen disasters, such as bad weather, shady vendors
and sometimes even cold feet -- it's a good idea to pay for those services with
a card, especially if you're expected to pay in full before your wedding day.
Paying vendors by plastic could also relieve some stress on
the day of the wedding if the vendor asks for more money than you anticipated,
says Chauran. "We rented out a whole ski lodge for our
wedding and about halfway through the reception, the lodge people said, 'We'll
have to charge you more money.'" Chauran told them to put it on her tab and went
back to her reception.
4. The dress
Your wedding attire will likely be one of the heftiest purchases you make. In
2012, brides spent an average of $1,211 on their wedding dresses, according to
a March 2013 study
by Brides magazine and TheKnot.com.
Wedding dresses are often custom-ordered and
may take months to arrive from the manufacturer. In the meantime, the shop you
ordered your dress from could fail to make the
necessary alterations in time for your wedding when the dress does arrive.
We rented out a whole ski lodge for our
wedding and about halfway through the reception, the lodge people said, 'We'll
have to charge you more money.'
Wedding planner Gail Johnson says there's also another reason
why many of her brides decide to charge their wedding dresses. They're
confident they'll be able to sell them after the wedding. "There are a lot of
really good consignment shops," says Johnson. So brides who pay more for their
dresses than they have in cash may be able to recoup some of that money shortly after
the wedding to pay down their credit card purchase.
5. Anything you buy
The online wedding industry is big business, according The Wedding Report,
a market research company. In 2011, for example, couples spent a whopping $8.6
billion on online wedding supplies.
Whether it's a cute accessory you found on Etsy or a box of
white paper fans you bought on discount from a vendor on Amazon, make sure you
pay for those purchases with a credit card. That way, you're guaranteed the
strongest possible consumer protections in case the vendor turns out to be a
fraud, or the items arrive damaged -- or never arrive at all.
Virtually all credit and debit cards branded with a Visa or
MasterCard logo offer zero liability fraud protection. Some credit
cards also come with additional price protection services. So if you splurge on
an item, then find an identical one for a lower price, your credit card may
refund you the difference.
6. Travel expenses
for you and your guests
If you're renting a limo or traveling out of town for your
wedding, go ahead and charge those purchases to your card as well.
Some credit cards offer emergency travel insurance that
covers you in case you are injured or become ill on the way to the event.
Many credit cards also offer roadside assistance and rental car
insurance, which could help save you from bigger financial headaches if you
crash your limousine rental on the way to the reception or wind up stuck on the
side of the road.
As an added perk, charging such big expenses could help
you quickly rack up rewards points that you can spend on other things.
That's what one-time father-of-the-bride Richard Hayman of
Washington, D.C., did when he was faced with a fat bill. "I never carry a
balance on any cards, so why not get the points?" says Hayman, who used an
American Express card to pay for hotel rooms and more for his daughter's
wedding. "I was going to
spend it anyway."
See related: Q&A with author Meg Keene, author of ,Disputing a credit card bill with a merchant, How to win a credit card charge-back dispute
Published: April 8, 2013