When planning a wedding, it's easy to think about your budget in terms of big ticket items: the dress, the venue, the flowers, the food and beverages. But it's the little wedding-day extras that can really add up and put you over your intended budget. So before you come thousands of dollars short due to unexpected wedding costs, read on for the "hidden" fees you may have forgotten to add to your budget.
1. Postage. We've found that engaged couples make many trips to the post office! Wedding invitations often need extra postage due to their weight and shape. You also need to account for a stamp for each guest's RSVP, thank you card, and save the date.
2. Service fees, tax, and gratuity. Read the fine print carefully on your catering contract; you'll likely have to pay sales tax on your food and booze, and you may be on the hook for a 20 percent service fee and an 18 percent gratuity. That means if your venue has a $10,000 food and beverage minimum, an 8.25% sales tax plus service and gratuity could add another $4635 to your final bill.
3. Tips. If gratuity isn't included in a contract, etiquette still dictates that you give most vendors a tip of some sort. While the specifics will depend on how many vendors you use and whose contract includes gratuity, most couples should plan to tip the photographer, videographer, florist, musicians/DJ, driver, officiant, and hair and makeup stylists.
4. Cake cutting fees. Many venues now either provide a wedding cake as part of their package or require that you work with a specific bakery. If your venue does allow you to bring your own cake, they may charge a cake cutting fee. So you can bring in a cake from your favorite baker or something your Aunt Betty whips up, but be prepared to spend $1-$3 per slice to have your venue's staff cut the cake.
5. Table, chairs, and place settings rentals. Before you book your venue, find out what they provide in terms of furniture and serving ware. If they offer functional brown folding chairs and long, no-frills, brown banquet tables, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade. The same goes for linens, place settings, and glasses. It could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to turn your budget venue's offering into your dream wedding space.
6. Wedding gown alterations. Most brides who buy a dress in bridal salons have their dress altered to fit them perfectly...a cost that's not included in the price of the gown. Expect to pay $200-$400, and ask your bridal salon about the cost of alterations before you hand over your credit card for the gown.
7. Hair and makeup trial runs. If you're budgeting for professional hair and makeup services, be sure to account for the cost of any trial runs too. Doing a trial run makes a lot of sense -- it's a great way to make sure you and your stylist are on the same page regarding your look -- but it can cost around $100 for each trial session. We suggest having your trials on the day of your bridal shower or engagement photo session; if you're paying the fee, you might as well put that full face of makeup or gorgeous blowout to good use!
8. Travel and accommodations. It's not uncommon for the engaged couple to stay at a hotel the night before their wedding, and often the bride will pay for her bridesmaids to stay with her. And if you're not getting married in your city or town, you may have to make multiple trips the city where your wedding will be held to look at venues or meet with vendors. Be sure to consider these costs when deciding where you'll be married.
9. Packaging and labels. As you envision your wedding favors, be sure to account for the cost of all the elements of the mini gift. A huge bottle of local honey might cost $50 at the farmers market...but the mini jars, kraft paper labels, and calligraphy pen you'll need to make it look fancy could add another $50 to the project. So price out all the favor packaging before you commit to anything.
10. Shipping. One of the best things about being a modern bride is shopping for your wedding online. While bigger retailers typically offer deals on shipping, smaller retailers (like those selling packaging, paper products, decor, and other party supplies) often have surprisingly pricey shipping. For example, the website that gives you the best deal on bulk jars for your honey favors might also charge $15 to ship them. As you research these online, be sure to keep track of what they charge for shipping.
What has been your biggest budget surprise when planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments!