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Wedding Insurance: "I Do"...Need It?

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For Women & Co. by Mercedes Cardona, OMH Communications

For many newlywed couples, paying for the wedding will be their biggest expense starting out, beyond buying a home. According to a recent survey from The Knot and WeddingChannel.com, couples spent an average of a whopping $27,021 per wedding in 2011.

With that much money spent on the big day, and so many deposits paid in advance -- to book the hall, the band, the caterer, etc. -- disruptions such as poor weather and other malfunctions can throw a very costly monkey wrench into the works.

But a small investment in insurance could spare the happy couple a lot of headaches if something goes wrong. Many insurance companies are now offering event policies that cover weddings; some of the costs may be able to be recouped if something spoils the wedding or forces the couple to have to cancel.

"It's a great option, especially weather insurance," said Amanda Black, editor of The Knot. "Remember Hurricane Irene?" There were many stories of weddings disrupted when that storm struck the Northeast on a weekend during wedding season in 2011, she said.

A basic wedding policy to cover the loss of deposits and essential items such as rings, gowns, and photos will cost around $155 to $550, according to the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York -- the area with the most expensive weddings in the country, according to The Knot's survey. Black did a quick check and found that a basic policy to cover a $25,000 wedding would only cost $235.

"It's great protection for something you're spending so much money on," she said. And it's becoming more common with the popularity of destination weddings, where other factors can go wrong. The BBB recommends buying insurance as early as possible, as you begin making wedding plans, but it also warns that some policies have limitations, so check the terms of the policy to see how long it will cover you. (The Knot has a soup-to-nuts guide on wedding insurance on its site, and the BBB has a useful tip sheet, too.)

A standard wedding insurance policy typically covers a postponement or cancellation in case of weather, vendor no-shows, or if someone essential to the wedding -- such as parents of the bride and groom -- are injured or sick. Additionally, Black said more policies now offer coverage if the wedding has to be put off because the bride or groom is called to military service.

These basic policies, however, don't cover cold feet, said Black, though some insurance companies do allow couples to add change-of-heart coverage for an additional fee. Basic policies also won't cover the honeymoon expenses, so you'll need separate travel insurance. Black recommends checking your homeowner's insurance and your credit card perks; they may cover you in some instances.

Mishaps at the wedding are another matter: A general liability policy to cover accidents at the wedding for up to $1 million should cost about another $185, according to the BBB, but you may not need that much coverage. Check with the vendors first, because some of them may have coverage of their own, such as a liability policy covering your reception venue and caterer. Read the fine print, Black advises. Get it in writing so you can figure out what's covered.

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