One of my best friends is in the midst of planning her big day, and her greatest battle has been the budget (shocker). It’s not that she’s unhappy with it, but unexpected costs keep popping up out of the blue. Her complaints have led me to this blog post, which will uncover all of those hidden weddings costs many brides miss. Have you thought of postage prices, overtime, vendor meals, or even insurance? Those items alone could total $1000! I’m not trying to stress you out but rather keep you as informed as possible. So take a deep breath, open that planning spreadsheet, and read on.
35 Hidden Wedding Costs
Like I said earlier, I don't want to freak you out. That's not the goal of all of this! This is just to keep you aware so there aren't any surprises around the corner for you. This is a hefty list, but there are tips here and there on how to cut some of those hidden wedding costs down!
If you want to feel 100% confident in your gown, you should definitely get alterations. However, it’s imperative that you consider these adjustments when deciding on a dress budget. Depending on the style you choose, alterations can add a few hundred dollars on average. Don’t forget to include steaming in there as well. Tip: Consider off-the-rack styles and save from the start. Saving a few hundred dollars, in the beginning, will leave room for later.
- Bridesmaid Proposal Ideas
A lot of brides want to “propose” to their ‘maids in a special way, but this is an easily hidden wedding cost, too! Since you’ll be giving your ladies gifts at the rehearsal dinner, keep these proposal mementos small. A bottle of wine, a cute necklace, or even a nice letter will do just fine.
- Bridal Undergarments
Whether it’s a specialty bra or a useful pair of Spanx, lingerie should be included in your dress budget.
- Beauty Trials
Did you know a bridal hair trial can cost as much as 75% of the day-of price? You’re basically doubling your beauty budget! Makeup often requires practice as well, so keep this in mind when you’re choosing a stylist. Always ask them what they charge per trial before you commit.
- Extra Beauty Needs
Hair and makeup is one thing, but what about the rest of your regimen? Some brides will get a mani, pedi, spray tan, massage, and facial! What we often consider “splurges,” become necessities (and hidden wedding costs) before the big day. Tip: Who needs a facial when you have great skin? But who's saying that you have great skin? Girl, let me promise you that with Penny & Pine, you will. Skip those expensive facials and start using Penny & Pine to have GLOWING skin for your wedding day!
- Marriage License
In the state of Minnesota, a marriage license is $40 with 12 hours of premarital education and $115 without. Many couples believe premarital education is a good idea, and now it will save them a few bucks. The $75 may not seem like a lot right now, but every little bit counts in the end! Just remember that time is money, too. Tip: If you’re having a destination wedding, allow extra time to purchase a license there. It may even require an extra night or two in the hotel, so factor that in.
While they’re fun, favors can add up! Some sources say these gifts can be $3-8 each. If you have 150 or more guests—well—do the math! While some brides consider DIY to be a cost-saving technique, it all depends on the project. Get an estimate on supplies before you commit. Something like a candy buffet may be affordable, but homemade soap or breakfast boxes could break the bank. Tip: Favors aren’t required! If you’re providing dessert and a great night, guests won’t mind the lack of a gift.
Websites like WedSafe.com offer—yes—wedding insurance. For a fraction of your budget, you could save quite a few tears if the worst happens. Get a quote!
- Tasting Fees
It may be one of the best parts of planning, but tastings can be up to $25/person. Only ask a few people to join, or even just your fiancé.
- Diet and Workout
Do you have weight loss goals before the big day? They require healthy groceries, a gym membership, or even a personal trainer! Fresh vegetables and proteins cost more than a frozen pizza, and gym memberships can be pricey. Consider a 24-hour gym like Snap Fitness where monthly rates can be as low as $35. Tip: Sign up with your fiancé and save even more—gotta love family plans.
- Out of Season Flowers
We all love peonies, but did you know their peak season is spring? That means prices go way up for fall and winter brides. Have a conversation with your florist about the flowers you want vs. the buds that are in season before you design your bouquets.
You’ll need a lot of stamps for your save-the-dates, invites, and thank-yous. Postage rates could be $1-2 for each piece of stationery, and those dollars add up pretty quickly! The key is to keep your paper products simple and low-bulk. Box invites may be cool, but they’ll be a pretty penny.
- Non-Approved Vendors
Many venues have a list of pre-approved vendors they recommend to couples. If you stray from this list, your bill could go up 20%! Hidden wedding costs maybe just above the dotted line, so read the contract carefully, and give their pre-approved vendors a chance.
- Presents for Parents
Yes, mom and dad deserve a small gift too! They should be different than the wedding party presents and personalized. Maybe an embroidered hanky for mom to wipe away those tears, or a box of dad’s favorite cigars. The gifts can definitely be less than $50, so don’t overspend!
- Hotel Room for the Night Before
Staying in a hotel room the night before the big day may help with stress levels. You can wake up, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy getting ready in your own room. A major hidden wedding cost that most brides don't know about is that stylists often have off-site fees! Before agreeing to anything, make sure their off-site fees are included in the price quote.
- Meals for the Day Of
You may be nervous, but you have to eat—and so do your attendants. Breakfast and lunch should be provided to your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and whoever else is helping set up the morning of.
- Coat Check
Coat check can add up to $300 to your bill, so make sure you check the contract carefully.
- Valet Parking
I did a little research, and valet parking can be a couple hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the location and number of guests. It may be something you want to think about, even when deciding on a venue in the first place. Free parking is a wonderful thing.
Seems like it should be included, right? Well, if you’re getting married in an old building that’s not prepped for large events, you may have to pay for a generator. Crazy—I know.
If you’re planning an outdoor affair, you’re going to need some light. This could total $1000 or more! If you’ve chosen an indoor space, check with the vendor about lighting add-ons and restrictions. Some locations don’t allow hanging lights, and you may have to purchase stands or other equipment.
Large spaces require lots of speakers and some bands or DJ’s charge for extra equipment. Layout the space with your vendor from the beginning so you can avoid those hidden wedding costs!
- Rental Transportation
Some rental companies charge for transportation, and it won’t be included in the first quote you receive. Read their contract carefully (I can’t say this enough, can I?) and make sure the transportation prices are included, and that distance isn’t a factor.
Something as trivial as the chair you choose can cost you a few hundred dollars. Individual chairs can be anywhere from $3-10—let’s focus on those priorities.
Sales tax will get you every time. It’s nothing I can predict for you, but always remember it’s there! Tip: The Wedding Shoppe is in Minnesota, which means no tax on attire! You can purchase in-store or online and enjoy these savings!
- Vendor Meals
Your photographer and videographer need to eat! Odds are they’ll be with you all day, so count them in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- YOUR Meals
Couples tend to forget to include themselves in the headcount for dinner. Whatever your cost per plate is, make sure you add two more. Tip: Have a favorite fast food restaurant? Consider having someone pick that up for you for lunch on the day of to avoid amping up the hidden wedding costs too much!
- Cake Cutting
Lots of caterers charge extra for cake cutting (more time and dishes on their end). Even $2-5 per guest, so ask all the right questions before signing on with your caterers so that you're clear on the exact amount of hidden wedding costs you'll be adding on!
Bartenders don’t like to waste any booze, so corkage fees are common. Predict $1.50-3 for every bottle they open. Tip: Consider kegs! They don’t have to be filled with cheap beer; you can get craft beer from your favorite local brewery and please the crowd.
- Unexpected Guests
As rude as it is, unexpected guests are a common thing. People may bring a plus one when they weren’t invited to, or individuals who RSVP’d ‘no’ (or didn’t RSVP at all) may decide to show up. The only thing you can do is include a few extra plates in your budget.
Your vendors deserve tips, and unfortunately, they’ll be more than a few bucks/person! Check out The Knot’s handy tipping cheat sheet.
- Guest Transportation
If your guests have a really good time and need a sober cab, it’s courteous to make sure they get home safe. Having a DD service on hand is a nice touch, but paying for a few Uber’s may be enough.
- Set-up and Tear-down
If you don’t have a team of family and friends to help with set-up and tear-down, you might have to pay the venue to help out. Research suggests $250-500 for this service.
If everyone is having a good time and the reception goes a tad late, make sure you’re prepared for the staff’s overtime. Check the contract for possible fees, and if they’re not included, make sure to get them in writing. $250/hour is common, and that adds up quickly! Keep your guests on a program.
- Forgotten Items
It’s smart to allot a few hundred dollars in your budget for forgotten items on the big day. As prepared as you may be, anything can come up. The groom could forget his shoes, a groomsman may need black socks, or a bridesmaid may show up in heels that don’t complement the rest. You’ll thank yourself later for being prepared.
Unfortunately, that budget needs to extend past the big day! Thank-you’s, gown preservation, prints of your gorgeous photos…a few more things need to be checked off! Please do not skimp on sending out thank you notes to everyone! We know they're a hidden wedding cost that can add up quickly, but it's a tradition that should be kept in place. I recently was a bridesmaid in a wedding, and the couple never sent out thank you notes to the guests or the bridal party. Believe me when I say that it's a small gesture that means a lot and shows that you care.
You can do this!
I’m not trying to scare you—I promise. I just believe that being prepared is essential to staying on track. You may think your checklist is complete, but I have to believe you missed a few of the hidden wedding costs above. It’s OK! Anyone would. I just hope you’re one step closer to a complete list. What are some of the hidden costs that have popped up and surprised you? Any tips that you can share on how to cut some of those down?