Planning a wedding budget is a difficult and stressful task, and there’s no better feeling than booking your last vendor and realizing that you were able to stick to it. Although you may have included the big vendors, such as your venue, photographer, caterer, florist, DJ and officiant, it’s easy to oversee the other events and items that are a part of a wedding. Unfortunately, many couples are surprised by how much they end up going over their initial budget thanks to unexpected costs that they didn’t account for. Don’t make the same mistake as them – make sure you take these hidden wedding costs into consideration when you create your wedding budget and plan your big day.
Events that happen before the actual wedding itself are often overlooked for one obvious reason: because they aren’t technically a part of the wedding. But, what many couples forget is that these are all wedding-related events, and so any of those costs should be included within the overall budget. For example, the engagement party, bridal shower and bachelor or bachelorette parties are events that would not be held if not for the fact that you are getting married. These can quickly add up to become extravagant affairs, yet are often forgotten in terms of the budget. Of course you are not responsible for paying for the entire cost of these parties, but as the hosts you will be expected to pay for some of it. Another pre-wedding event that can become costly is the rehearsal dinner. Even if you decide to go a cheaper route instead of a fancy restaurant, you will still have to foot the cost of the food for everyone in attendance. Depending on the types of events you plan to hold, you can put an estimate of how much you’ll need to spend for each one. Make sure you add this to your overall wedding budget.
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Postage and Stationary
Invitations should already be included in your overall budget, but there are more stationary items that you may not have thought of. Engagement announcements, Save the Date notices, wedding invitations, thank you cards and postage for all of the above as well as the guest book and ceremony programs can quickly add up to a hefty sum – particularly the postage. All wedding-related stationary and mailings are usually a bit heavier than a standard letter thanks to the high-quality paper they’re printed on, so the postage for everything may be more than expected. When thinking about your invitations budget, we suggest breaking it down into the different types of stationary you’re going to need, then allocating a specific amount to each category. This will help keep you organized and keep you from being surprised by additional costs.
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Licenses and Service Charges
Your marriage license fee will vary based on the location in which you tie the knot, but some states will have a “++” on their marriage license fees, meaning that service charges and tax are not included. The same symbol may be found on vendor contracts, which means that the amount you agreed to pay could actually end up being more. Make sure you ask your vendors clearly what the final total cost will be and whether or not that number includes tax, service charge and tip. Tips and gratuity are generally not required, but they are recommended if your vendors did a great job. It may be a good idea to factor gratuities into your budget if you know you will tip your wedding vendors.
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Are you planning on having an open bar? Expect to pay on average $2,800 for four hours of service. But wait, this might not include the setup fees for your bartenders, nor the hourly wage or tips. What if you decided to bring your own alcohol to help alleviate some of the cost? Expect your venue or caterer to charge a corkage fee per bottle, which can quickly add up if you aren’t keeping count of the number of bottles being opened. Many caterers also charge a cake cutting fee, for slicing and serving your beautiful wedding cake to your guests. These fees are typically no more than a few dollars per person or per slice, but it’s easy to overlook these hidden extras when you’re signing a contract with a simple dollar amount.
Photo Credit: Andrea Matone
Planning and sticking to your wedding budget is tough. We know how hard you’ve worked to plan your dream wedding at an affordable cost, so we want you to be aware of all these hidden costs and fees that may be an unpleasant surprise. Make sure you read the fine print in all of your contracts, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything is unclear. Write out all the different items you’ll need to buy under certain categories, such as invitations, so that you can make a more accurate budget based on what you need. And remember, pre-wedding events should be considered in the overall budget – after all, they wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the wedding!