Alright lovelies, can we have some real talk today? Good. I like to do real talk in all my blog posts because if you’re not doing real talk, then what’s the point right? EXACTLY! (Like how I’m just answering on your behalf? Hehehe).
If you’re in the planning stages of your wedding there is no doubt that you have read or heard about the importance of getting your budget in order, but I want to talk about it just a little more because I think it’s SUPER important and doesn’t get talked about enough.
So many couples are so concerned with the big ticket items like the dress (omg I need to get THAT dress, no matter what it costs!) or things like the venue that they ignore an equally important part of the equation; all of the little costs that may not be so obvious.
Because here’s the thing. Those tiny items that are often forgotten in a budget quickly add up my friend.
So yes, you do need those big ticket items of course in your budget. But in order to really be financially fit and ease stress, you can’t forget the equally important small items. So what are some of the unexpected costs that you should prepare for? Keep reading below to find out 40 unexpected wedding costs you need to know.
1. Asking Bridesmaids In a Special Way: For many brides, asking their closest girls to stand up with them on their wedding day simply isn’t something that is done over the phone or via text. Many brides today are popping the question to their bridesmaid’s with creative gifts, personalized cards, or even hosting them for adorable brunches. I love this trend but remember those little costs can add up quickly!
2. Beauty Treatments: You have already set aside a budget for your wedding day hair and make-up but remember to account for the cost of trials as well. Looking your best on your wedding day involves many different little things. You’re going to want to book things like teeth whitening, spray tans, facials ($40-80), manicures ($30-60), massages ($60-150), eyebrow threading or waxing ($12-25), eyelash extensions ($60-150). Tip: have your make-up or hair trial on the day of your bridal shower or engagement session; if you’re paying the fee, you might as well put it to good use.
3. Marriage License: With flowers, catering, seating charts, and much more to plan it’s surprisingly easy to forget that you actually have to get married on paper. A marriage license is basically your permit for wedded bliss- the legal confirmation that you and your partner are free and eligible to marry one another. Sure, it’s paperwork, but it’s still exciting and absolutely necessary. Your marriage license will typically cost between $100-115 depending on where you’re getting married.
Related: How To Get A Marriage License
4. Your Bachelorette Party: Bachelorette parties today are bigger than ever. More and more groups are planning weekend getaways like a girl’s weekend to Vegas or a getaway to Toronto. Even though the maid of honor and bridesmaids are supposed to cover the costs for the party, many times the bride ends up paying for their own flights or part of the hotel costs. It seriously won’t matter where you go. You will have fun with your girls no matter what. Choose a nice hotel or rent a cottage near your home, and plan activities to keep the fun going! Try one of these bachelorette party alternatives.
5. Umbrellas and Boots: Just in case if it rains! Matching rainboots for you and your bridesmaids will be adorable and practical if it does end up raining. They may make a nice gift for your bridesmaids and can get you through the rain in style. If it doesn’t end up raining, you can always return them back to the store but great to have on hand in case it is a heavy rain.
6. Day of Stationery: Don’t blow your entire stationery budget on your save-the-dates and invitations. You also need to think about programs, escort cards, place cards, menu cards, signage (“reception this way, ceremony this way, etc.…) and any other day-of needs. You may want to add in a separate line item in your budget for day-of stationery so you can budget accordingly.
Photo Credit: Heart Of Chic
7. Postage: This is one of those small items in your budget that can sure add up quickly! It will cost $1.00 for each invitation you send. That isn’t including extra charges for weight, unusual shapes or buttons/embellishments. Between the save-the-date notice, the invitation, the RSVP, and the thank you notes, that’s four stamps per guest at $1.00 a pop. That’s $4.00 in postage per guest. And if you’ve got an average number of guests at around 140, postage alone will cost you approximately $560. This cost doesn’t even include the thank you notes for everyone who came to your bridal shower and bachelor and bachelorette parties.
8. Thank you cards: Depending on what you want to do for the thank you cards, they might end up costing you more than you think. Remember, a stamp costs $1.00 and you will want to have thank you cards for vendors, wedding party, bridal shower and wedding gifts so that can add up pretty quickly.
9. Alterations: Unless you’re extremely lucky you will have to have some alterations on your wedding gown. This could mean hemming the gown, taking it in (or letting it out), or structural changes (like adding straps). This can cost you hundreds of dollars, so don’t blow your entire fashion budget on the gown.
10. Pre-Wedding Attire: You’ll wear the dress of your dreams for your special day but what are you going to wear for your engagement party? Bachelor and bachelorette parties? Bridal shower? Rehearsal dinner? Day after brunch? Not every bride and groom will want to wear something new just for these events but if you do, they should go into your wedding budget.
11. Undergarments and Accessories: You will also want to save room in your budget for the extras like your veil, belt, shoes, undergarments, heel stoppers (for grass), and jewelry which can cost $200 or more. Does your groom want a special pair of socks to go with his tux? How about cuff links? Oh, and don’t forget to add the garter if that’s something you fancy. You can cut costs by making your veil or jewelry your “something borrowed” like I did. A dear friend had recently gotten married and I loved her hair clip and she was gracious enough to let me borrow it for my big day.
12. Make-Up: Are you paying for just your make-up and hair or are you picking up the tab for your bridesmaids’ and mothers’ make-up as well? You have your hair and make-up budget but remember to check and see if your make-up artist charges additional for eyelashes. Also, your lip color likely won’t last all day (and if it does please tell me what brand you use) so you may want to factor in the cost of purchasing the lip color from your make-up artist so that you have coverage all day.
13. Pre-Wedding Attire: I adore special outfits especially matching robes for you and your girls on the wedding day. They always look so great in your getting ready pictures.
14. Wedding Day Meals: Whether you’re getting ready at home or in a hotel, your family and wedding party will be with you every step of the way. Don’t let them or yourself go hungry. Keep it simple with bagels and fruit for breakfast and a platter of sandwiches for lunch. And don’t forget the champagne! Cheers!
15. Hotel Room The Night Before: If you are your bridesmaids are getting ready in a hotel room, pay attention to check in/check out times- you’ll often need to book the room for two nights in order to have the morning to get ready. Many hotels will not be able to guarantee an early check-in on the wedding date so to be safe you should consider booking a room the night of your wedding and also the night before.
16. Welcome Bags: These are certainly not required but welcome bags or baskets are such a lovely touch if you’re hosting out-of-town guests. They may include a handwritten welcome note from the bride and groom, fresh flowers or fruit, bottled water, a schedule of events, and a city map.
Photo Credit: White Loft Studio
17. Transportation For Guests: While you’re generally not responsible for how guests get to and from your wedding, it becomes a concern if a guest get too intoxicated to drive home or if you are having a wedding in a remote location. You may need to pay for a taxi fare or look into hiring a bus or van shuttle service.
18. Gifts and Cards: It’s common practice to give gifts to your wedding party but don’t forget your parents and other important people to say thank you for contributing somehow to your special day.
19. Unexpected Guests: Without doubt, a guest who RSVP’d “no” will turn up anyway, a clueless friend will bring an uninvited plus one, or your cousin will bring her kids even though you said no kids were invited. It’s a good idea to anticipate this by planning ahead for a couple extra dinners and place settings just in case.
20. Favors: Depending on what you choose to have as your favors they can cost anywhere from $3-8 (or more) per person which can add up quickly in your wedding budget. You really want to be sure to account for the cost of all the elements of the mini gift. A huge bottle of local jam might cost $50 at the farmers market but the mini jars, kraft paper labels, and nice pen you’ll need to make it look nice could quickly add an additional $50 to the project. Price out all of the packaging before you commit to any project.
There are many ways to cut costs such as opting for one favor per couple rather than one per guest, replace favors with a dessert or candy bar, go for a DIY option, or skip favors altogether. These are definitely not required and most guests won’t even notice if you don’t have them.
21. Vendor Meals: Your photographer, the band or DJ playing your reception, your wedding coordinator, your officiant or priest will be working your wedding pretty much all day long and will need to eat. Feeding them is a nice thing to do, and sometimes it’s even part of the contract. Remember to add this cost to your budget and plan accordingly. This is especially true if you are opting for passed appetizers. Have your caterer prepare a plate for them in advance so that they get plenty of fuel to keep making sure you look your best all night long!
22. Day-of Coordinator: Hiring an event coordinator to make sure everything goes as planned is increasingly popular. So many brides decide at the last minute that they’ll need a little help on the big day. They realize that they don’t want to worry about what needs to happen to make the day go as planned so they seek the help of a day-of coordinator which can cost about $500 to $2000. This may not be a necessary expense, but it’s a recommended one if you can afford it.
23. Videography: Many couples often think they don’t need a videographer because photos will be enough but then they quickly realize that they made a big mistake and want to quickly squeeze it in. According to Jeremy McLean of MemoryWalk Film and Photo, “Most couples that see someone’s wedding film wants one for their own wedding.” He adds, “we are a few years behind the west coast as it’s the hottest wedding trend in many areas. I think once more people see how valuable having your very own personalized wedding film can be, then it’s just a matter of saving up to make it fit the budget.” If you’re not 100% sure on video, set aside the money anyway then, if you decide you really don’t need it, you can reallocate the money later on.
24. Officiant: The average fee for a wedding is approximately $150-$250. If you are getting married in a church there may not be a fee per se but they may ask for a donation.
25. Cake Cutting and corkage Fees: If your venue does allow you to bring your own cake or bring your own wine, they may charge a cake cutting fee. Be prepared to spend $1-$3 per slice to have your venue’s staff cut the cake and $1.50 to $3.00 for every bottle the staff opens. Be sure to ask your venue up front about their fees before you decide to go with an outside source.
Photo Credit: BHLDN
26. Cake Toppers: You accounted for your cake in your wedding budget but did that include your cake toppers? Don’t forget to add this to your list!
27. Cake Knives and Serving Utensils: You’ll need a knife for that traditional cake cutting picture.
28. Bathroom Basket: Filled with emergency items like floss, combs, mints, hair spray, Band-Aids, bug spray for outdoor weddings, etc.
29. Lighting and Generators: A few well-placed lights, whether indoors for effect or outdoors out of necessity, can run $1,000 or more. These again aren’t always necessary for indoor venues, but an outdoors reception after dark will need something to light the area. And if you’re too far from a power source, you’ll need to rent some generators as well or you’ll be sitting in the dark with no music.
Photo Credit: Julie A Whitlock Photography
30. Sound: Having an outdoor wedding? Invest in a sound system if you want your guests to actually be able to hear your vows. It doesn’t matter if you’re having an intimate wedding, without a sound system, your guests will struggle to hear your ceremony which means they’ll miss out on the heart of your wedding.
31. A Tent Floor: If your big day is going to be outdoors, you need to think beyond the tent. First, a tent floor is a must have. We all have heard stories about rainstorms that passed through, leaving plenty of sunshine but also soggy grass or even worse mud in their wake. In that scenario, a tent floor becomes an unexpected last-minute expense and something you didn’t expect to have to coordinate on your special day. Go ahead and spring for the tent floor from the beginning. Trust me it will be worth the peace of mind.
32. Portable Toilets: If your venue doesn’t have bathrooms you will want to make accommodations that are comfortable and up to sanitary standards. Ask yourself, “Is this the type of restroom I would want Grandma to use?” If there are not available or appropriate restroom options then I suggest you contact a portable toilet vendor and ask for their recommendations. They usually have several options, some can even have sink and lighting options. I know that having a row of portable toilets may not fit with your wedding vision so consider having a tent cover the restroom area completely to have it blend in with the wedding space.
33. Gratuities: Who should and shouldn’t be tipped at your wedding is somewhat complicated. Real Simple has a pretty good guide that explains it. The short version is that you need to know which contracts include gratuities and which do not, and a general rule of thumb is that you don’t tip the owner. The list of people to tip includes bartenders, bathroom attendants, the catering manager, the chef, coat check attendants, hairstylists, the maids at the hotel, limo drivers, the wait staff, makeup artist, musicians, photographer and videographer, parking valets and your wedding planner. The cost adds up to quite a bit, so make sure to allocate a spot in your budget for gratuities.
34. Sales Tax and Service Charges: Check over your contracts to ensure that sales tax is included in the quoted price. If you don’t, you may be in for a surprise when you receive your final bills. Also, service charges are not the same as gratuities. For example, sometimes a venue will charge a service charge for administering the wedding. As always, double check your contracts and ask vendors to clarify any questions you have. Ask for a detailed list of all possible service charges, find out what is included in your package, and make sure the extras you’re going to need are included in your contract.
35. Overtime Costs: Whether your wedding runs over the allotted time because you had a late start or because you’re having so much fun that you decide at the last minute to extend it, keep in mind that you’ll most likely need to pay for any time outside of the contracted time.
36. Delivery, Setup and Breakdown Fees: From the caterers to the flowers to the tables and chairs, nearly everything you’ve rented for your wedding needs to be delivered to the venue, and delivery costs come at a fee. When you rent or buy any given item, ask yourself who is going to manage it, and include them as an added cost in your wedding budget.
Photo Credit: Philip Boudreau Photography
37. Including Yourself In The Head Count: So much of the planning of a wedding is about your guests and sometimes couples forget to include themselves in the head counts for meals, seats, and other important areas.
38. Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation: This was a cost that totally caught me off guard so I don’t want it to happen to you. My beloved but very dirty gown was dropped off for cleaning and then I was slapped with a $100 plus cleaning bill. To clean your gown and have it preserved in a pH-neutral box with acid-free paper expect to pay between $100-250. Make sure to factor this cost into your wedding budget so you’re not caught off guard post wedding like yours truly.
39. Printing Photos and Wedding Album: Please do this. It hurts to know that in this digital world many couples don’t go ahead to print their photos. I’m sure they have every intention to but life happens and that task sometimes just doesn’t get done. Besides your memories photos are the only lasting thing you will have from your special day so let’s print them off and have these family treasures for many years to come.
40. Add In A Buffer: Have you already included all of the above items in your budget? Congrats you budget savvy bride! Despite having everything planned perfectly you should set aside 10-20% for “the other.” Things always so it’s best to be prepared for those last minute or unexpected costs.
With so much going on it’s inevitable that something will be missed. Being ready for these unexpected costs can save you a lot of money and stress. What unexpected wedding costs did you encounter? Share your stories in the comments below.
DON’T FORGET IT: PIN IT!