13 hidden wedding costs that can blow your wallet (and a quick budget survey!)

hidden wedding costs that can blow your wallet
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Wedding budgets are the necessary evil of an already fraught-with-drama time in your life. There are all kinds of things that'll balloon your wedding budget from necessary undies to last-minute tailoring to extra guests showing up.

The best defense is a good offense by knowing what hidden wedding costs may sneak in and how to be ready for them. Also, we have a wedding budget request!

We want to know: What's YOUR budget?

Take this super short, one-question survey to help us tailor content to the budgets of our readers. It'll only take a hot second and helps us out a lot. Take the survey here.

Now back to our regularly scheduled info about hidden wedding costs…

Tipping and taxes

There's so much conflicting information on the internet about tipping your wedding vendors that it's hard to firmly establish a target number in your budget. It's also super easy to forget about it up front.

Taxes on the other hand, can be estimated pretty accurately. Moral of the story? Estimate about an extra third of your total budget costs for both tips and taxes.

Extra postage

If your invitations and/or save-the-dates weigh more than one ounce, you’re going to need additional postage. Any shape that is out of the norm (like a square) also costs more, so find out from your post office what the damage will be. Feel free to skip heavier weight paper stocks, multiple cards, boxes, and fancy shapes to save some cash.

Hair and makeup trials

This is optional (as is even having your hair and makeup done professionally!), but if you're going for it, plan for a trial to make sure it's what you want. But know that it can run between $100-$300+ just for the trial.

DIY trials

When you're crafting up a project, you might be saving money versus buying something, but it may take a few tries to get it right depending on the complexity. Here's what one reader had to say:

Another unexpected cost for me: DIY trials. Crafting things yourself can make them cheaper overall, but don't expect everything to work perfectly the first time. I definitely spent some extra money on supplies for prototypes and things that didn't pan out as expected. – Saminrva

Outfit alterations

Hemming, steaming, spot cleaning… all of this is not included in the price you're seeing on your dress or outfit. Best solution: ask for the list of needed alterations and what the costs will be. If you already have a seamstress you trust, take it to them for pricing, too.

Underoos

Your wedding garment price also doesn't include the cost of your underwear. Be sure to snag your favorite style of drawers (and whatever other undies you'll need: bras, corsets, period panties, binders, etc.) to make sure it's padding your budget accurately… pun intended.

Equipment fees

Equipment for a DJ, a wedding band, microphones, etc. can add up in cost. Make sure you're talking out the logistics and prices with your vendors who will be needing equipment. Also run it all past your venue to make sure the setup will work and that everyone will have what they need on the day.

Rental company delivery and setup

If you're renting chairs, tables, or anything at all, you'll need to make sure that delivery fees (both coming and going) are included in your contract. These can be as low as $50 or upwards of $400 depending on how much you're renting. Also make sure any setup costs are included.

Day-of meals

This includes early day meals for you and your crew who will be getting ready behind the scenes. Keep it simple and have a friend or family member grab some easy bulk food like bagels, fruit, sammies, lots of water, …and mimosas?! Or get something delivered (organized ahead of time!) for everyone from a place you can afford. Also water, lots of water.

Unexpected guests

Start the gnashing and wailing now because chances are your guest list will contain a few folks who show up but didn't RSVP or an extra +1 you didn't intend on having. I know, I know. Be prepared with a couple of extra meals just in case and spare yourself the stress on the day.

Vendor meals (and yourself!)

Oh, and don't forget to budget for your photographers, videographers, coordinators, band members, DJ, and any other vendors who will be with you for the long haul during mealtime. And don't forget to budget for yourself and your partner, too. You'd be surprised how often that can get overlooked.

Cake cutting and corking fees

All-inclusive venues probably already have this baked (haha) into the fees, but a la carte venues or your own spaces probably don't. Either way, ask ahead of time to find out about cake cutting and corkage fees which can range from From $2 to $5 per guest for the cake and from $1 to $3 for every bottle of wine opened.

Overtime costs

When you book a vendor like a DJ, photographer, or venue, you'll likely be booking for a specific length of time. Definitely check what overtime fees are (they're often more than a regular per-hour cost), and get it in writing. Have someone ready to start closing up shop near the end of the night so you can leave on time.

Cleanup and breakdown

The dreaded post-reception clean-up is the last thing you want to worry about. If you've hired a coordinator, see if they'll include it in their fees. Otherwise you'll want to see what your venue offers or if you're on the hook for it yourself. Garbage removal and cleanup can run in the hundreds of dollars.


We want to know: What's YOUR budget?

Take this super short, one-question survey to help us tailor content to the budgets of our readers. It'll only take a hot second and helps us out a lot. Take the survey here.

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  1. I can definitely second the delivery and set up fees. The company we found to rent the AC for the venue was only charging $125 for the rental, but regular delivery was $75, it was an extra $100 for an after-hours pick-up, and an extra $100 after that to narrow the 3-hour delivery window to a 30-minute window. So instead we decided to bribe our friends with alcohol and just go pick up the damn thing ourselves.

    2 agree
  2. Another unexpected cost for me: DIY trials. Crafting things yourself can make them cheaper overall, but don't expect everything to work perfectly the first time– I definitely spent some extra money on supplies for prototypes and things that didn't pan out as expected.

    2 agree
  3. My issue is not that these costs are unexpected, it's just that I have never planned a wedding before and have NO IDEA what they cost! Every item in our initial budget has easily ended up being at least a few hundred bucks more expensive once I did a little prelim research. I didn't know it cost so much to feed people or alter a dress…and those basic things add up. Urghhhh.

    1 agrees
    • Yes, I second that! It's impossible to have a realistic budget when you have no idea what's reasonable. A few hundred on a photographer sounds like a lot, but when you realise the majority charge over a thousand you have to re-evaluate your expectations and your budget!

      1 agrees
  4. In the UK, I wasn't expecting to have to pay multiple registrar fees because we're getting married in a different area to where we live. To get legally married at our venue, so far we've paid to give notice locally, to give notice in the area of the venue, a fee for having the ceremony at the venue, and a fee for the registrar coming to the venue. Around £800 all told (and the venue is the cheapest bit of that). Also, a lot of money in calls, because both registry offices have required multiple calls each to get all this set up!

    1 agrees
  5. This is UK specific, but what caught me out was how much making it legal costs. We've had to pay to give notice in our home city, pay to give notice in the city we're marrying in, pay the venue to host the ceremony (ironically the cheapest bit), and pay the registrar to attend the ceremony. It's come to around £800. If you're not getting married in a church or registry office, the fees stack up quickly.

  6. This is UK specific, but what caught me out was how much making it legal costs. We've had to pay to give notice in our home city, pay to give notice in the city we're marrying in, pay the venue to host the ceremony (ironically the cheapest bit), and pay the registrar to attend the ceremony. It's come to around £800. If you're not getting married in a church or registry office, the fees stack up quickly.

  7. This is UK specific, but what caught me out was how much making it legal costs. We've had to pay to give notice in our home city, pay to give notice in the city we're marrying in, pay the venue to host the ceremony (ironically the cheapest bit), and pay the registrar to attend the ceremony. It's come to around £800. If you're not getting married in a church or registry office, the fees stack up quickly.

  8. Also, don't forget about POST wedding expenses. Dress & bouquet preservation (if you're into that), wedding photo albums (if not included in your photography deal), thank you cards and even MORE postage for those, any supplies for framing or otherwise displaying memorabilia. We ended up with about $700 worth of post wedding expenses that we never saw coming!
    Another thing, make sure you keep a list of WHEN payments are due so you don't get overwhelmed towards the end. I remember realizing that the final balances for a bunch of vendors were due within the same week. It was like 1k and we were down to about $500 in the "wedding account." That was definitely an "oh shit" moment for us!

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