35 Hidden Wedding Costs

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. 

wedding couple

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!

bridesmaid proposal wine label

Custom Bridesmaid Proposal Wine Bottle Label

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. 

getting ready for wedding with makeup and robe

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.

marriage license signing

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.

wedding favor mints

“Mint to Be” Wedding Favor Mints

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.

wedding dress

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 bouquet

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!

wedding handkerchiefs for mom and dad

Handkerchiefs for Bride or Groom’s Parents

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.

wedding bride and bridesmaid robes

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.

wedding ceremony

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!

wedding cake cutting

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.

wedding planning guide

Preview From Our Wedding Planning Guide

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!

wedding thank you cards

Digital Template for Wedding Thank You Cards

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!

wedding framed photos

Framed Wedding Photos Wall Decor

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?

Leave a comment

Paula
August 04, 2020 14:47

I’m doing everything myself even the dinner for the wedding I’m cooking it in the morning it will be put in crock pots to keep warm so I won’t have any extra stuff and I also included the musician and photographer to eat with us

Angela Miller
June 22, 2020 22:10

That’s a lot of hidden costs…

Heather
June 18, 2020 13:04

Wow – didn’t realize there were all these things!

Kelsi
June 04, 2020 11:19

I knew about a lot of these but there were some that were surprising. I’ve now scribbled them down into my overflowing “need to know” wedding notebook. Thanks for the tips!

One suggestion: hyperlink the knot’s tip cheat sheet so we don’t have to go googling for it. SEO is a wonderful thing.

Sarina
April 29, 2020 14:38

I cannot express how important it is to sit down with your fiance and families and discuss this before the planning starts. Most wedding planners have these laid out for you to calculate too! Plan, plan, plan and always budget for a little more than you think you’ll need. Awesome and important post!

Emilie
April 29, 2020 14:38

So great to know some of the hidden costs so they don’t take me by surprise when they come up. I am very much a planner and having these in mind will help to keep my stress levels down.

Alisha Dan
April 03, 2020 13:57

This is SO true. I had no idea how much postage was going to cost and I’m NOT happy about it. lol

Kelsey
April 03, 2020 13:57

It’s nice to have a list of common hidden costs. It all adds up, so it’s great to know what to look for

Anastasia Anderson
March 04, 2020 22:28

Postage and tax were such surprise $$$ for me and my fiancé. It is nice to figure all of this out beforehand.

Jennifer Putman
May 16, 2019 09:32

Great article! A lot good information for planning your budget for your wedding!

Kristen H
May 16, 2019 09:32

Great post! Certainly very helpful! One thing I would like to offer advice on is: while Groupon may be great for deals on massages, be careful if you are looking for deals on facials, and if you have even somewhat sensitive skin, don’t consider Groupon at all. Find an esthetician that you trust early on (months in advance) and definitely don’t try someone new before a big event. Also remember that facials should be scheduled for about a week before important events unless you really know and trust your tech and know exactly how your skin will react. This is NOT the time for experimentation!

Sabrina Cadini
May 16, 2019 09:32

Great post! Hidden costs are common “surprises” for couples who decide to plan their own wedding without asking for professional help. Budget may be tight for some but investing in a planning consultation is priceless. My company offers planning consultations to couples all over the United States for a flat fee where couples who don’t want a planner involved receive professional and personalized tools such as a comprehensive budget, checklist and vision report (if they’re local in San Diego, California we also include vendor recommendations based on their needs, budget and personality).
An alternative is our Wedding Workshops where we go through all the elements of wedding planning and present the couple with a binder filled of professional tools, lists, and advice. These alleviate the so-called “planning headaches” and couples can focus on what’s most important: getting married to each other!

Taylor
May 16, 2019 09:32

In #10 you say: “Fresh vegetables and proteins cost more than a frozen pizza,” which is awful you’d put this in. That is not correct. Eating healthy is cheaper than eating poorly. Buying the vegetables and protein may at once cost more, but they last longer, keep you fuller longer, and add in to multiple meals making those cheaper as well. Misleading your readers in this way is irresponsible, especially with the state of obesity in America. Spend 10$ on vegetables and 2$ on 18 eggs, you can have a big breakfast every morning for 9 days, and you just spent 2$/meal. Same thing goes for dinners and lunches. Cooking food yourself saves a TON of money and that’s something you should say instead.

weddingshoppe
May 16, 2019 09:32

35 Hidden Wedding Costs: http://t.co/rdyjhadM05 #weddingplanning #thebudget #beprepared

weddingshoppe
May 16, 2019 09:32

New Blog Post: 35 Hidden Wedding Costs – One of my best friends is in the midst of planning her big day, and her g… http://t.co/ut2uuWe1ne

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