15 Hidden Costs to Watch Out for When Planning Your Wedding
Be prepared for the added fees that can sneak their way into your big-day contracts.
When budgeting for your wedding, don't let these unexpected charges associated with the venue, catering, delivery, and more catch you by surprise. Here, we surface what you should keep an eye out for in the fine print. Some costs are hidden in your paperwork, while others seemingly appear out of nowhere. Know what to look for and where to look with these super helpful tips. To make things even easier for you, we're offering a breakdown on anything you should add to your budget from the start, and are also giving you a heads-up on what to expect along the way.
Taxes and Tips
These may or may not be included, so always review your contract and note whether or not any taxes or tips have been added to the final quote. If they haven't and it's for catering, find your state's tax rate for food and drink and make sure that you put that extra money away. The same goes for waiters and bartenders—sometimes tips are added to the contract, and sometimes they aren't. For hair and makeup artists, musicians, DJs, and parking attendants, who usually don't add gratuities to their bills, budget in 10-15 percent tips.
Budget around $1.75 per invitation to make sure that you're accounting for stamps. Because stationery suites are weightier than a standard letter and reply cards are typically sent with postage included, it's a cost that can quickly add up if you're not prepared.
Welcome Bag Delivery
Hotels often charge for distributing bags—from $1.50 to $15 per bag—which isn't always mentioned in their reservation quote. To save money, consider asking your hotel's concierge to store the bags behind the front desk, where guests can pick them up during check-in.
Your custom-fitted dress will probably require some above-average undergarments. Budget around $200 for any specialty bras, corsets, or shapewear you might need.
Yep, for that custom fit you'll also need alterations. Most wedding dresses need some sort of adjustment, and tailoring can run up a bill of as much as $700.
Setup and Takedown
Does your ceremony or reception site charge you for staging and cleanup? They may handle this in many different ways, especially if the venue must hire extra hands to pick up the flowers, decorations, or refuse left behind.
Although sit-down dinners aren't necessarily more expensive than buffets, which are priced in bulk, caterers do charge by the plate, with one guest equaling one plate.
When it comes to your catering bill, non-food-related costs for things like securing rentals and hiring servers can tack on about 20 percent to your bill.
Some venues work exclusively with certain vendors, meaning if you wish to hire a florist, caterer, or photographer who isn't on the list of approved professionals, you may be expected to pay an up-charge.
Ask that the cost of getting any rentals to and from your venue be included up front; otherwise, the handling fee could reach several hundred dollars if the vendor charges for distance, labor, and number of items rented.
Furniture and Amenities
Just because the venue has tables, chairs, linens, or heating lamps does not mean they're included with the site rental fee. Similarly, your wedding locale might only offer access to a private garden or wine room for an additional price.
When anyone other than the in-house pastry chef makes your cake, a venue often charges about $1.50 per guest to cut and serve it.
If you're the one providing the alcohol, be prepared to kick in extra to have it served—around $15 a bottle.
Throwing a destination affair? Guests who aren't staying on the property might be required to buy a day pass to enter, which could mean up to $200 a person.
If the party doesn't stop at the agreed-upon hour, know how much you'll need to shell out for the extended use of the venue. Likewise, ask about the increased costs for keeping your band, DJ, servers, photographers, and videographers late.