Everyone knows weddings are expensive and yet there are still so many hidden costs that surprise couples during the planning process. Have you thought of postage prices, overtime, vendor meals, or even insurance? Those items alone could total $1000! We want to keep you as informed as possible. So take a deep breath, open that planning spreadsheet, and read on.
Morilee Audrey Wedding Dress | Hannah Mountain Photography
35 Hidden Wedding Costs You May Have Missed
The goal of this guide is to keep you aware so there aren't any surprises around the corner for you. This is a hefty list, but we also included tips here and there on how to cut some of those hidden wedding costs down!
*This post may contain affiliate links. While we can receive commission through affiliate links, opinions are entirely our own.*
1. Wedding Dress Alteration Cost
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.
2. Bridesmaid Proposal Ideas & Bridal Party Gifts
A lot of brides want to give out bridesmaid gifts or propose to their bridesmaids in a special way. Bridesmaid gifts can range from affordable to luxurious depending on your budget. An easy way to save money in your wedding budget is by keeping these proposal mementos small. A bottle of wine, a cute necklace, or even a nice letter will do just fine.
One of our favorite easy yet personalized gifts for bridesmaid proposals is a bottle of wine with a custom label. You can buy your bridesmaid’s favorite bottle of wine and add a label with her name and role in your wedding on it. There are plenty of design options available on Etsy and they only cost a few dollars to add a sweet touch to your gift!
3. Bridal Lingerie & Wedding Dress Undergarments
Whether it’s a specialty bra or a useful pair of Spanx, don’t forget to include your undergarments in your wedding budget! Your wedding lingerie options vary and will depend on what type of dress you decide to wear and if you’re changing into multiple outfits. You may also want to buy something special for after the wedding, which could get pricey if you decide to splurge.
4. Hair & Makeup Trial Costs
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.
Floral Bridal Getting Ready Robe | Junior Cruz Photography
5. Off-site Bridal Stylist Fees
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.
6. 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 may be just above the dotted line, so read the contract carefully, and give their pre-approved vendors a chance.
7. Marriage License Cost
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.
Wedding Dress from The Wedding Shoppe | Empiria Studios Photography
8. 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.
9. Bride & Groom 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.
10. Wedding Favors for Guests
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, those few dollars multiply to be quite a lot! DIY favors might be a good option to save money. Just make sure if you are going to DIY that it doesn’t end up costing you more in supplies and time than it would to buy something premade!
If you want to choose a small and affordable favor, candy could be the perfect option. These mints from Etsy come with adorable packaging and cost less than $100 for 200.
Tip: Favors aren’t required! If you’re providing dessert and a great night, guests won’t mind the lack of a gift.
11. Wedding Catering and Cake 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.
12. Wedding Dress Preservation
After your wedding you’re going to want to preserve your wedding dress. There are a few options available for this and they can get pricey. The Wedding Shoppe offers 2 different types of gown preservation.
Our traditional wedding dress preservation kit includes preservation treatment, minor repairs and stain removal, and a space-saving display box. If you have a little extra room in your budget, our upgraded celebrity wedding dress preservation kit includes preservation of up to 5 accessories, includes a silver presentation box, and uses museum quality cleaning technology.
Voyage by Mori Lee Alaina Wedding Dress | Dacre Co. Photography
13. Ceremony and Reception 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. Break-down could be included in your venue contract, just double check to make sure. If not, some venues may charge $250-500 for this service.
14. Wedding Insurance
For a fraction of your budget, you could save quite a few tears if the worst happens. Get a quote! There are plenty of websites that offer reliable customer service and specialize in wedding insurance. It may seem like a frustrating added cost, but it could save you a ton of money in the long run.
15. 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.
Wedding Dress from the Wedding Shoppe | Jacqueline KayLeigh Photography
16. Save the Dates & Wedding Invitations
Most couples send out both save the dates as well as wedding invitations. These can get pricey. Don’t forget to add up how much these will cost for the amount of people you need to send them to and add this to your budget.
Tip: When you are ready to send your invites out, don’t order for the total number of guests. To save a little money, you can send one invite per family, couple, or household. You could also save money by using digital versions of these cards.
17. Postage for Wedding Invites, Thank Yous, Etc.
You’re going to need a lot of stamps. Seriously, you’ll be mailing a lot of different things before and after the wedding. Don’t forget to count these in your budget. 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.
18. Presents for Your 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!
We love the idea of handkerchiefs for the bride’s and/or groom’s parents. There are going to be a lot of tears shed on your wedding day, especially by your parents. Their little kids are all grown up afterall. This affordable, useful, and meaningful gift can be customized just for them!
19. Meals for the Day Of The Wedding
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.
20. Coat Check & Valet Parking
Coat check can add up to $300 to your bill, so make sure you check the contract carefully. 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.
21. Hotel Room for the Night Before the Wedding
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 hotel room. Having a nice hotel room before your wedding will also make for a great backdrop for getting ready with your girls.
Satin and Lace Bridesmaid Getting Ready Robes | Jennifer Sanders Photography
22. Wedding Venue Electricity Bills
Power 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—we know.
23. Lighting & Sound
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,your DJ may have floor lights or spotlights they want to use. Check with your venue for lighting 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!
24. Chairs and Other Wedding Rentals
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. Remember to budget for other things you may have to rent including: a tent for potential rain, dishes or chargers, arches, linens, or even a dancefloor.
Tip: Our wedding planner guide includes a list of potential rentals and space to keep track of their prices.
Morilee Wedding Dress | Junior Cruz Photography
25. Transportation for Wedding Rentals
Some rental companies charge for transportation, and it won’t be included in the first quote you receive. Read their contract carefully (we can’t say this enough) and make sure the transportation prices are included, and that distance isn’t a factor.
26. Taxes for Wedding Dresses, Wedding Venue, & More
Sales tax will get you every time. It’s nothing I can predict for you, but always remember it’s there! Your wedding dress, venue, catering and more could have additional taxes tacked on. At thousands of dollars in price, taxes can add up quickly!
Tip: The Wedding Shoppe is in Minnesota, which means no tax on attire! You can purchase in-store or online and enjoy these savings!
27. Wedding Cake Cutting Fee
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!
Maggie Sottero Wedding Dress | Love Moore Photography
28. Wedding Reception Corkage Fees
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.
29. Unexpected Wedding 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.
30. Gratuity for Wedding Vendors
Your wedding vendors deserve tips. Unfortunately for your budget, tips should be more than a few bucks per person. Our downloadable wedding planning organizer and guide includes a cheat sheet for how much to tip each of your vendors.
31. Wedding 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. Many hotels offer shuttle services for guests to go to the wedding and back to the hotel after the reception. Get some quotes to see what kind of transportation you can afford for your guests!
32. 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.
33. Post-Wedding Thank You Notes
Thank you notes are often an after-thought for couples, but we really think they’re important. You want to let your loved ones know just how much you appreciate their wedding gifts, even if the gift is just them flying across the country to be there for your big day.
Tip: If you go with a digital template for thank yous, you can type your notes instead of hand-writing them!
34. Wedding Vendor Staff Overtime
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.
35. Wedding Photo Printing and Framing
You paid a lot of money for a professional photographer to document your big day. You’re going to want to have those photos printed, framed, or put in an album. Whether you have a custom book made, spend some time scrapbooking, or pay for custom canvas printing, this is an added cost that you should remember to budget for!
We love the idea of turning your wedding photos into a piece of decor for your home. Getting your photos turned into framed art is a great way to remember your wedding everyday!
Start Planning Your Wedding Budget Today!
We believe that being prepared is essential to staying on track. You may think your checklist is complete, but there is a good chance you’ve missed at least some hidden wedding costs. It’s OK! Anyone would. To help you out, we developed our ultimate wedding planning organizer and guide.
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?