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Special section Wedding costs

Get an auspicious beginning by having a festive but frugal wedding.

Penny-wise weddings

Protect your wedding with insurance
 

Then there's the alcohol issue. If a guest has too much to drink and then gets in an accident or a brawl, the bride and groom almost certainly will be among those named in a lawsuit.

"I don't care what wedding it is, people will leave drunk unless you don't serve alcohol," Sandau says. "It's so scary."

Couples planning an at-home wedding should review their homeowners policy liability limits. Naylor says many policies won't cover private special events.

"You have to look at your home from a risk-analysis perspective," she says. "Talk to your agent. It's very important to check your insurance because that's lawsuitville."

Vetting your vendors
Brides and grooms can avoid many of the problems covered by wedding insurance, Scardina Becker says, by carefully reading contracts and only using licensed and insured vendors.

Scardina Becker has worked on hundreds of weddings in her other capacity as president of the San Francisco-based special-event planning firm Events of Distinction. She won't take on clients who want friends or family members to bake the wedding cake, take the photos or provide some other wedding service. All it takes is one person to get food poisoning, trip over a camera tripod or claim they burst an eardrum because Uncle Louie's band was too loud.

You want each vendor contract to contain a "hold harmless" clause that releases you from responsibility if something happens because of their negligence. The contract also should provide indemnification. That means that if you get named in a lawsuit (and as the host, you probably will), the vendor involved in the litigation will pay for your defense. They'll want you to do the same for them.

Scardina Becker cites a case in which an inebriated wedding guest died in a fall as he left the reception. The bride called the following day to express her sympathies, but the widow wouldn't talk to her. Instead, the bride was named as a defendant in a lawsuit.

"Who may be implicated in the litigation?" Scardina Becker asks. "A number of potential people: the bride for issuing the invitation, the wedding planner who planned the event, the venue for hosting the event, the bartender who served the alcohol beverage.

"Who should have insurance? Everyone."

-- Updated: July 18, 2007
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