Get your budget up-to-speed.
Credit: Jose Villa

Weddings are expensive, and most people are well aware of the costs related to planning a modern-day ceremony and reception. But until you're the one who is actually getting married, you aren't fully aware of all the teeny-tiny-as well as the substantial-expenses involved in the year, months, weeks, and days leading up to the big day. To make sure you're in-the-know as you plan, we turned to top wedding planners to find out about the unforeseen, and sometimes pricey, wedding expenses that most couples don't plan for.

Proposing to Your Wedding Party

It's fairly common for the bride or groom to come up with a creative and endearing way to ask friends and family members to be part of the wedding party. "Special cards are given with cute poems, asking someone to be part of a bridal party," Deb Erb, wedding and event planner at Simply Events Inc., says. "Unsuspecting friends receive a special package in the mail, and upon opening the box, find personalized gifts and confetti to 'pop' the question to be by the bride's side on her special day." As you can imagine, purchasing the items and décor, as well as the cost of sending them in the mail, can range anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more.

Hair and Makeup Trials

Most brides plan to hire a professional for their wedding-day hair and makeup, but forget to consider adding in the expenses of hair and makeup trials. "Bridal party hair and makeup for the wedding day usually runs $50 to $75 for bridesmaids and $125 to $150 for the bride," says Erb. While the bride is often the only one who does a trial, she may opt to book multiple appointments to try several different styles.

Food for the Bridal Party

Most brides never think about eating something on their wedding day (other than the menu for their well-planned reception). "It's usually realized last minute, and the bride, her mom, or bridesmaids are trying to decide what food should be made available for both breakfast and lunch," explains Erb. "Full course meals are not necessary, but you want your bridal party to get some protein and stay hydrated prior to the ceremony." No one wants to see a domino effect of bridesmaids fainting at the altar.

Vendor Meals

Any hired vendor who will be staying the duration of your wedding-photographer, DJ, musicians, wedding planner, and potentially your florist-will require a meal. "After including you photographers, videographers, band, sound tech, planners, etc., this could be 15 extra meals and even thousands of dollars you weren't expecting to spend," says Tessa Brand, wedding planner and owner of Tessa Lyn Events. Even so, this is a cost you should never try to skip. Keep your team happy and your wedding will run smoothly.


Even though most brides include ordering invitations and purchasing double postage as part of their wedding budget, many forget about the day-of stationery items. "You will likely be ordering menu cards, ceremony programs, and escort cards for all the guests," says Brand. "Cute touches like specialty cocktail signs, welcome signs, and directional signage are usually added last minute, so make sure that your stationery budget includes all of these small items as well." This includes table numbers, which can range anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on how fancy you decide to go. And, if you have 20 tables, that's X amount times 20!

Welcome Bags

Since many wedding guests travel from afar to attend weddings, most brides and grooms arrange for friends and family to stay at a hotel near the reception. "A special touch is preparing welcome bags to help greet your guests as they check-in at the hotel," explains Erb. "Bags should have basics bottled water, a wedding itinerary, granola bars, chocolates, and a pack of tissues, but more elaborate bags often consist of local baked goods, luxury chocolates, mineral water, a bottle of wine, or other expensive gifts." This means couples can expect to spend anywhere from $5 to $50 per bag, depending on what they choose to include.


While gratuities are optional, it's customary to always tip hair and makeup artists, shuttle or limo drivers, DJs, bartenders, and ceremony musicians. "This should all be budgeted ahead of time so your last minute trip to the ATM isn't so painful," explains Brand. "If a gratuity isn't possible, I always recommend that brides write 'thank-you' cards to their vendors and promise them a positive review online."


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