Unexpected Wedding Costs Brides Forget to Budget For
Because the little things really do add up.
One of the most important parts of wedding planning and arguably the least fun and romantic (besides mapping out the seating chart, of course), is figuring out the budget. By determining what you can afford to spend in the beginning, you’ll save yourself from unwanted stress and debt later on. While most brides account for the big-ticketed items, such as the gown, venue, catering, photography, flowers, and decor, it’s the small, less talked about expenses that often catch couple’s off guard.
With so much going on, it’s easy to see how certain costs can fly under the radar and get overlooked, until the bill comes, that is. Trust us, you don’t want the burden of settling accounts on the day of, or being forced to use your gift money after the ceremony to cover last-minute fees. Here are 13 of the most commonly forgotten expenses you should factor into your budget. Knowing what you (and your bank account) are up against will help you to become a blushing—and budget-savvy—bride.
1. Marriage License
This may seem pretty obvious, but all too often couples forget to make their nuptials legal. After all, it’s not the most visible detail of the wedding, like the dress, decor, and bouquet. Depending on the state where you’re getting married, a marriage license can cost upwards of $100. And that doesn’t even include a copy, meaning you’ll have to pony up a little extra for a duplicate.
2. Day-Of Stationery
So you’ve set aside the appropriate funds for save-the-date cards, RSVPs, invitations, and thank-you notes. But have you considered wedding stationery for the programs, place cards, menu cards, and escort cards?
3. Hotel Rooms
Even though the hotel room will likely serve as more of a dressing room than a place of respite, you’ll still need to book a room for at least two nights. That way, you can arrive the night before and avoid dealing with restricted check-in times the day of your wedding. Also, you’ll be a guaranteed a spot the night of the ceremony just in case you're not leaving for your honeymoon right after the reception. Don’t forget to reserve a separate room for the groom, too. We wouldn’t want any bad luck clouding your union. Keep in mind that you should check with the front desk about the cost of hotel blocks (if any) for your guests and/or wedding party. Lastly, if you're planning on having a lot of bridesmaids, it may be ideal to rent a house or reserve an Airbnb for you and your besties.
4. Food for the Party
It’s going to be a loooonnnggg day, so don’t forget to feed yourself and your party. It doesn’t have to be expensive room service or fancy meals, but you’ll want to make sure you have fruit, bagels, and sandwiches on hand for breakfast and lunch, because no one wants to deal with hangry bridesmaids.
5. Vendor Meals
The photographer and videographer you hired to capture your special day, the minister who pronounces you husband and wife, the cover band tasked with playing all your favorite cuts and keeping your guests entertained—they all have to get paid and fed. Just like you and much of your party, they’ll be at the venue for hours on end. If it’s not in the contract, plan accordingly for their meals throughout the day, or incorporate them into the head count for the reception.
While guests should be responsible for how they get to and from your wedding, there’s always an uncle who has too much champagne and can’t drive back home, or an out-of-towner who flew in but neglected to rent a car. Argh. Better to be safe than sorry, so allocate some funds to be used for taxi or Uber fare.
7. Thank-You Gifts and Welcome Bags
Most brides remember to give gifts to the members of their wedding party, but it's the parents, unfortunately, who are usually forgotten. In most cases, they'll be shelling out some cash for the wedding, and you should show your gratitude for their contributions with a small sentiment. You can also give grandparents and siblings who aren’t in the party a sweet token of appreciation, too. Even though it’s not a requirement, a welcome basket or gift bag for out-of-town guests is also a nice gesture.
8. Uninvited and Unexpected Guests
Yes, shame on those people who RSVP’d “no” or didn’t bother to make a selection at all, yet they still show up. We also can’t forget about the inconsiderate guest who neglected to tell you about her last-minute plus one. Regardless, you should anticipate the unexpected, including the guest list. When finalizing things with the caterer or venue, go ahead and add a few extra meals and place settings.
9. Final Count
Speaking of the reception, don’t forget to count you and your soon-to-be husband in the table count and arrangements. The day will definitely be all about the happy couple, but that doesn’t mean you'll be able to eat for free.
10. Dress Preservation
Once the alterations have been completed, many brides don’t think about the costs to preserve their gown. You can choose a trusted dry cleaner, but preservationists who specialize in cleaning delicate garments is preferred. You may never wear it again, but your dress is one of the many things you’ll want to hold onto for memories, plus you may be handing it down to your daughter someday for “something borrowed.”
11. Tips and Gratuities
Some contracts and packages may include gratuities. If not, set aside a little extra to tip the bartenders, makeup artist, hair stylist, wedding planner, cake delivery team, officiant, attendants, and servers.
12. Delivery and Breakdown Fees
Caterers, decorators, florists, and the companies you’ve rented things from all come with a price, and probably a hefty one at that. You’ll pay for their service, but you also need to budget accordingly for the cost of setting things up, serving, and cleaning. The fine print is key here, as some venues also have miscellaneous service charges and sales tax. Think: cutting and corkage fees. Hey, somebody’s gotta get paid to slice and serve your wedding cake, and pop those bottles of bubbly.
13. Overtime Fees
Dancing and drinking through the night could cost you. If your wedding runs over the scheduled time or doesn’t start promptly, you’ll get stuck footing the bill for the venue and vendors, like the DJ and the band. Better to have emergency funds stashed away, in case things don’t go off without a hitch.