Staying on budget isn’t always fun…
One of the greatest battles you’ll face planning your wedding is your wedding budget. Wedding budgets are the necessary evil – we all wish we could play without them. But, frankly, that could get a little too dangerous for your check book. I’m sure even the Queen of England and Beyonce would have some kind of wedding budget. (No matter how high that budget is!)
I’m not trying to scare you. There really can be hidden costs when it comes to planning your big day. These costs can range from things you may have not thought of or additional vendor fees you weren’t prepared for. The most important thing you can do is to have a portion of your budget specifically set aside for any incidentals.
Read Your Vendor Contracts
As a wedding vendor myself, I can say that most vendors aren’t trying to slap you with hidden fees. Their fees are often justify their level of service and are just a way that they do business. Thus, read your vendor contracts carefully. They have their terms spelled out for you for a reason so you can prepare yourself and hopefully avoid any extra blow against your wedding budget.
These aren’t all of the hidden costs you can encounter in your planning, and hopefully more than just a few aren’t so hidden at all! Plan ahead of time, and don’t let them put a dampener on your day.
Many brides don’t take into consideration the cost of throwing an engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party. Unless someone else is volunteering to throw the party for you, you’ll need to be prepared to handle the bill.
Bridal Party ‘Proposal’ Gifts , Bridal Party Wedding Gifts, and Wedding Day Parent Gifts
Like the pre-wedding events, many bride’s don’t take into consideration the cost of gifts that they will need to get for their bridal party, family, and fiance. I mean, if you have 9 bridesmaids and 9 groomsmen plus your fiance, parents, and soon-to-be in-laws, I’m sure you can imagine how 18+ gift boxes can add up really fast. If you have a larger bridal party, you may opt for something more simple for them to keep the cost down while leaving some room to splurge on your fiance and family a little.
I’ll admit, I had no idea how expensive alterations could be on a wedding dress until I had them done myself. There’s a reason they probably didn’t tell me what it was going to cost until I needed to pick the dress back up. Check to see if alterations are included where ever you purchase your wedding gown. Better yet, check to see if alterations need to be done in-house. You might be able to save by finding your own seamstress. But, beware! Make sure to find a reputable seamstress who specializes in wedding gowns.
Many brides have a set budget that they are willing to spend on a wedding dress. But, they often don’t put into consideration the accessories they need to complete their look. Once you add on that belt, veil, and other jewelry your bridal consultant sold you on in the moment, you quickly find yourself way over budget. Save your wallet the heartache and save a few hundred dollars in your bridal budget for the must-have accessories you’ll need to complete your wedding day look.
Hair and Make-up Trials
Unless it’s factored into the overall package price, the cost of hair and make-up trials may not be included. If it’s not included into the overall package price, try to schedule your trials on the day that you are taking your bridal portraits. That way you’re not tripling your beauty budget between trials, bridals, and the actual wedding day.
Extra Day-of Beauty Needs
Many things that we tend to splurge ourselves with become necessities the week before the wedding. It’s not only a necessity to make sure you look perfect, but also that you feel perfect! Unless your mom, grandma, or aunt want to spoil you with a spray tan, mani-pedi, and facial, you may want to save a little extra cash for the much-needed spa day the week before the wedding.
Marriage License Fee
I’m sure you already knew there was a fee to get your marriage license, but did you know it can be more than just a small fee? Depending if you have state-approved pre-marriage counseling or not, you could be paying close to $100 for that piece of paper.
Hopefully wedding favors aren’t a huge surprise when it comes to planning your wedding! As you can imagine, the cost of them sure does add up fast. Wedding favors aren’t exactly a required element anymore, but it’s still nice to show your guests some love. To save some money, you could opt for something simple like a candy bar with bags personalized with your wedding logo/monogram. Better yet, you could opt for a simple DIY smore’s kit from Pinterest. Or, you could also order favors in bulk from a place like Oriental Trading Company.
Before you mail your invitations with the standard stamp, make sure you weigh a stuffed envelope! Most wedding invitations need additional postage to mail, and that additional postage can sure add up! Save yourself the headache and get your invitation weighed at the post office. There’s nothing worse than getting all your perfectly calligraphy-addressed invitations sent back with that ugly insufficient postage stamp.
PSA! Bridal shows are not always like real life! (Wait, what?!) That’s right, not all vendors provide complimentary tastings. However, tasting fees can often times be waived if you end up committing to that vendor. Tasting fees are mainly to make sure they are covering their cost with the tasting. (Not to mention, making sure that people aren’t just going around town to get free cake samples!)
Some venues have a set list of preferred vendors that trust and work with regularly. Make sure to check your venue contract regarding hiring outside vendors. Bringing in vendors outside of this list can increase your bill by about 20%. Yikes!
Meals for the Day-of
I’ll admit, I even forgot this for myself on my wedding day. You had breakfast at your hotel, and you planned your reception. But, what about lunch? There’s so much going on within your bridal suite those hours you spend getting ready that you’ll probably forget to eat! Make sure you arrange before-hand on having food delivered up to your bridal suite. Your stomach, your bridal party, and whoever is up there to help out the day of will surely thank you for it!
A great way to show your vendors some love is with a gratuity at the end of the evening. Just like you’d pay a tip for getting your hair and nails done or a meal at a restaurant, gratuity for wedding vendors is always appreciated. Although it’s not technically mandatory, it’s always a kind and thoughtful gesture to reward a job well done.
Depending on the state you are in, some vendors work the tax into their package prices already. Most of the time, though, sales tax appears in addition to your quoted price at the bottom of your invoice. You should always be prepared to pay a little bit extra than your initial quote for sales tax. Don’t get mad at them though – It’s not the vendor’s fault that they have to pay taxes!
If you’re having a winter wedding, or it happens to be a abnormally cold on your big day, you may want to read your vendor’s contract regarding coat check service. I bet you didn’t know that having coat check service for your wedding can add an additional $300 to your bill!
Cake Cutting and Corkage Fees
Did you know there are sometimes fees for each bottle opened and each slice of cake cut? You already paid for the cake, the alcohol, and the service. So why do you have to pay them more to do their job too? Bartenders and the cake servers (often through your caterer) don’t like to waste alcohol or cake, so they often charge for each bottle opened or piece cut. This is where I can’t say “read your vendor contract” enough. Make sure these fees are included in your service or that they are budgeted for ahead of time.
When you hire your caterer, you’re often times just paying for the food. Make sure to read your contract regarding actual service (serving food, bussing tables, cake cutting, clean-up, etc) for your reception. You may find that you need to pay so much per server per hour in addition to your food bill to actually serve the food to your guests. These additional service fees often cover the wages of the staff they have to bring out for your day.
If you are renting items for your wedding like decor, linens, or china, there are often charges added for delivery that don’t always show up on the initial quote. It’s often added to the final invoice that they send to you requesting payment. If your rental company doesn’t offer free delivery, you may want to budget for that ahead of time or opt to have one of your bridesmaids pick them up the day before.
Restocking Fees (Alcohol)
This one was a huge shocker for my own wedding. (Yes, I still learn things every day as a wedding planner!) Our bartenders were through the venue, but we were required to supply the alcohol for the bar. We went through Spec’s to get the alcohol for our wedding, and they had their event person help us with the amount that we should buy. When it was time to bring back the unopened bottles and return them, we had to pay a few hundred dollars in restocking fees! It was so frustrating!
When you’re coming up with your final number to send to your caterer, don’t forget to add in meals for your vendors! Chances are your vendors have been there a good portion of the day prepping and setting up. Hungry vendors are not happy vendors, and they’ll work extra hard to thank you for it!
Also, it’s surprising how many couples forget to add themselves into the headcount. You’re going to be hungry after a long day. (Even if you have your coordinator save the food for later!) Don’t forget yourself in the head count!
Beyond the Wedding
Budgeting for your wedding doesn’t just stop on the wedding day. There are a number of things wedding-related that you may need to prepare for after you walk down that aisle. If you have fur babies, you’ll need to arrange for their care while you are off galavanting on your honeymoon! Hopefully someone you know is able to take care of them so you can cut this cost, but you should always be prepared just in case. (There’s nothing worse than worrying about your puppy while you’re trying to enjoy the beach!) If you are interested in cleaning and gown preservation, you’ll need to prepare for that extra cost as well. Most importantly, don’t forget about budgeting for thank-you notes after the wedding!
There are hidden wedding costs that brides don’t really think of when it comes to setting their wedding budget. I think this is one of those things that makes having a wedding planner so important (even if you just have partial wedding planning assistance!) Having a wedding planner working by your side during your wedding planning process is a great way to make sure that you’re on track with your budget, fully aware of the terms spelled out in your vendor contracts, and happy with your planning and not forced to compromise on elements making up your dream day.