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37 Hidden Wedding Costs You Need to Budget For

With everything that goes into planning your wedding, it’s easy to overlook some basic costs. Every little detail will cost you money, and beyond the obvious costs, there are even more hidden in the cracks. From vendors to wedding decorations and everything between, you have to plan for it all. To ensure that you're prepared for all the costs associated with wedding planning, here are 37 hidden wedding costs that you may not know about!

Hidden Costs You Need to Add to Your Wedding Budget

1. Bridal Party Proposals: Bridal party proposals have become much more intricate than just asking. Now, proposals consist of compiling well thought out gifts or goody bags for the groomsmen and bridesmaids. It's up to you whether you want to create one of your own, DIY style, or order a pre-made gift from a company.
Advice: Keep your proposal simple and go with DIY - if that’s your forte! If you need some great ideas, head on over to our blog, featuring 25 bridesmaid proposal ideas. Alternatively, if you don't have the time to craft proposal boxes, there are plenty of places you can buy them online.
2. Beauty Treatments: Most brides plan to have their hair and makeup done for the big day. Something you’ve probably already worked that into your budget. However, there are other pre-wedding beauty preparations that you might consider. Including teeth whitening, hair coloring, massages, and/or facials. You might also need a few hair and makeup trials, which may or may not be factored into your total.
wedding hairstyle
Advice: Check out some coupon sites, such as Groupon, for great deals on beauty procedures and salons. You’ll save a ton and have fun trying new places!
3. Bachelorette Party: It’s tradition for the maid-of-honor and/or bridesmaids to pitch in and pay for the bachelorette party. But if you’re going out of town, many brides will pay their own airfare. If you’re expecting a fun getaway, prepare for the possibility that you may have to pay for your travel expenses, outfits or luggage.
Advice: Stay close to home! While it’s always fun to travel, there are plenty of fun places to celebrating your bach bash within driving distance. Plus, more of your girls will be able to attend!
4. Pre-Wedding Attire: There are a lot of pre-wedding events that you will have to host and/or attend. Such as the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and so on. Most brides aim to wear a different outfit for each event, some of which come with a dress code. Plan the cost of clothing into your budget, because 4+ outfits aren't cheap!
Advice: Aim to wear outfits you already own! If you can't resist treating yourself to one new outfit, then have a strict budget. Or cut costs where possible, by wearing accessories from your closet.
5. Alterations: When you’re picking out a bridal gown, don't forget about alterations! Most every dress will require a hem, bustle, and seam adjustment. Expect to pay around $100-500 depending on what you need done. And don’t forget about steaming!
Advice: Shop around! Some seamstresses are more affordable than others, but do just as great of work. Ask your friends/family who they might recommend. If you can't afford alterations, then be sure to purchase a dress that fits you well off the rack.
6. Undergarments: The budget for your gown and bridal accessories, should also include the the cost of undergarments. Thats right, you need specific undergarments for a wedding dress - to hold everything up and define your shape. Depending on the style of your dress and what you’ll need, these items can be costly.
Advice: Buy your dress and have alterations done early on, so that you have enough time to shop around for good deals. Ideally, with the right alterations, you won’t need much more than a long-line bra or bra-cups!
7. Postage: One of the most frequently overlooked costs is postage. And let us be the first to tell you, it adds up fast. Depending on the weight of your engagement announcements and wedding invitations, you will need additional postage. So don’t expect one little stamp to do the trick. Postage can cost upwards of $2 and invitation. Yikes!
wedding invitation
Advice: Skip the fancy folded pocket envelopes and consider an online RSVP. You won't have to include an RSVP card or pre-stamped envelope within your invitation suite. The only exception should be elderly relatives, who aren't quite on top of checking their inbox.
8. Overtime Costs: You book your vendors for a certain amount of time, but due to a variety of situations you may need them to stay longer! If events are running late or your reception goes later than planned, you should prepared to pay for their time. If they don't insist on an additional payment, you should at the very least give them a nice tip.
Advice: Get overtime costs in writing and factor in additional time when booking your vendors! Understanding the potential cost ahead of time will help you follow your itinerary to a tee.
9. Clean-up Costs: If you’re paying a flat fee to rent a venue space, expect to pay for clean-up costs. Such as garbage removal and post-reception cleaning. Cleaning costs are usually included in the cost of booking the venue, while others may charge by the hour. Be sure to read your contract carefully, ask about potential fees, and know what to expect!
Advice: Grab a couple friends, or aunts and uncles who are willing to help clean-up after the reception. The staff won't have to do any extra work and you will save some money.
10. Non-Approved Vendors: Now-a-days, tons of venues have a “preferred vendor” list. This is an exclusive group of vendors who are pre-approved by the venue, who you may or may not be required to choose from. If you have your heart set on a venue that’s outside of this list, don’t be surprised if they expect you to pay more.
Advice: Stick to the list! Otherwise, be sure to book a venue who allows you to work with any wedding vendor. There are too many couples who book a venue and end up forking over even more money to work with outside vendors.
11. Cake Cutting & Corkage Fees: Plan to pay around $2-5 per guest for cake cutting and up to $15 per bottle for corkage fees. It's expensive, but if you’re not using the venue’s caterers or bar service, then they are responsible for these services.
Advice: If the venue offers a catering and bar service, use it! Otherwise, opt for cupcakes over cake, so you don’t have to pay for a cutting fee!
12. Vendor Meals: Your wedding vendors are spending their entire day with you. It's only appropriate that they get fed, just like everyone else! They'll appreciate the thought and work that much harder for you.
wedding food
Advice: Many venues/caterers offer a cheaper option for vendor meals. Check your contract and make sure you know what they can expect to eat!
13. Lighting & Sound: Most DJ’s and bands should be well equipped, but if your venue space is larger than average, you may need extras. If your venue is outdoors or in a location that isn’t prepped for a wedding, you will need to invest in the works. Like a sound system, generators, and extension cords.
Advice: Make sure your band/DJ are familiar with the layout of your venue and/or consider hiring from a larger company that are well equipped and. They won’t charge you as much for extra pieces!
14. Rentals & Upgrades: While many venues come with tables, chairs, linens, and place settings, don’t expect them to be anything too fancy! To get the look you really want, you may need to go through a rental company or pay for some upgrades through the venue.
Advice: Try to find a venue that has the total look and feel that you want. Although their rental fee is higher, the overall cost will be cheaper considering it comes with all the bells and whistles that you were hoping for.
15. Servers/Bartenders: While most venues offer a bar service and/or have a liquor license, a bartender may not be included. Same goes for servers! Unless it is stated that they are included in the cost of the venue, then you may have to fork over some more moolah.
Advice: Ask your venue about their serving policies, and clarify whether servers or bartenders are included.
16. Rental Transportation: You can’t stick 15 tables and 150 chairs in the back of your vehicle. Before renting any furniture, ask about transportation, shipping, or packaging fees. They may or may not be in the per-item cost.
Advice: Although the upfront cost might be more expensive, going with a larger rental company (who has their own trucks) could end up saving you money.
17. Tasting Fees: It’s one of the best parts about wedding planning, but it usually comes at a price! Many places charge upwards of $15 for an extra person to attend, so be selective on who you bring.
wedding cake
Advice: Who needs to be there besides you and your spouse? No one. Keep it intimate and keep it cheap!
18. Coat Check: If you’re having a winter wedding, having a coat check is especially important. Unfortunately, many places will charge up to $300 just for a coat-hanging service! Make sure you read your contract carefully and ask questions ahead of time!
Advice: It’s absolutely not necessary unless all of your guests are bundled in their winter coats. But during spring or summer, heck no. Save the money.
19. Wedding Insurance: What is it and do you need it? Insurance comes into play in a variety of ways. Often by helping you avoid additional costs due to a cancellation because of unforeseen circumstances. But it can also apply to situations like theft of your wedding gifts, or if a guests is injured at your event.
Advice: Shop around and find a company that you find trust-worthy, as well as reasonable in terms of price. Not all insurance is the same, so consider the different options. Specifically what each type does and does not cover. Some coverage you may not need, while others would be unwise to pass on.
20. Transportation: If you aren't booking at a venue that functions as a dual ceremony and reception site, how will you get from once space to the other? What about from the venue to the hotel? Most couple's book a limo or shuttle service for the day, and sometimes the night. If you do so, make sure that your guests are aware that it is available.
Advice: Check with your hotel to see if they offer a shuttle service. Otherwise, you may encourage guests to Uber or work with a private company. Providing transportation is not only a courtesy, but it will help keep you and your guests safe (if you plan on having an open bar).
21. Taxes & Gratuities: You can't avoid taxes, and while you can avoid gratuities, you shouldn't. It's important that you tip your vendors, and factor these expenses into your original budget.
Advice: Don’t skimp on the tips. These people work hard to make sure your day is perfect. If they exceed your expectations or are clearly doing their best, be sure to thank them and show them that they are appreciated.
22. Marriage License: Depending on your state, the cost of a marriage license ranges. Regardless, you have to have one. On average, it will cost upwards of $30.
Advice: If you want to be legally married, it's simple. Get a marriage license!
23. Day-Of Stationary: Day-of stationary consists of programs, escort cards, menus, and signage. You don't have to have all these, so pick the ones that best suit your needs.
Advice: Use the templates available through online retailers to obtain beautiful programs and dinner menus, at a lower price - like VistaPrint. Other elements you could easily DIY, such as your table numbers and signage.
24. Shipping Costs: If you plan on ordering anything for your wedding, then be ready for shipping fees. It might not be a significant amount, but the more you order, the more charges you’ll incur.
Advice: If you plan to order multiple items from one company, order them all at once. This will cost you less money, and sometimes free shipping is available when you spend a set amount of money.  Whenever possible, we recommend using Honey to see where you can save!
25. Out-of-Season Flowers: When it comes to flowers, be prepared to face higher costs for out-of-season plants. Peonies for example are super trendy, but if they’re not in season, they can be up to $20 a stem. 
Advice: Opt for in-season alternatives. If you need help, ask your florist for guidance. Usually they can work with a specific budget you provide. If you need some good examples, we have a list of alternative flowers for the five trendiest wedding styles.
26. Bathrooms: Bathrooms are a must-have, whether they are already available on-site or if they have to be rented. Depending on your budget, you can rent restrooms that are more minimal or luxurious.
Advice: If your guests list is over 100, rent at least 2 restrooms. You can never be too safe when it comes to bathrooms!
27. A Backup Plan for Mother Nature: If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, it’s crucial that you plan for anything. If there’s any chance of rain, be prepared by ordering a tent and siding. Other things you may want to consider are extra lights, flooring, as well as umbrellas or ponchos for your guests.
Advice: Check the weather early and often! If there’s any rain in sight, buy a bulk set of ponchos or umbrellas for both your bridal party and wedding guests.
28. Favors: Wedding favors are optional, but somewhat of a tradition. Favors can vary in price, depending on the item as well as the number of guests you will have in attendance.
wedding tablescape
Advice: Favors are reported as one of the most wasteful investments that a couple makes for their wedding. It is completely up to you whether to provide them. If you do, we recommend sticking with items that you know will be taken home by your guests. For example, a jam or jelly, a personalized wine glass, or mini liquor bottles.
29. Unexpected Guests: Uninvited guests can be a bummer, but its bound to happen. Some people just don't understand what "you don't get a plus one" means. Make sure to plan for a few extras, just in case!
Advice: Talk with your venue/caterer about how many servings they recommend. Chances are, they’ve dealt with this situation and have a good idea of what you should order.
30. Hotel Stays: It’s pretty common for the bride and her ‘maids to stay in a hotel room the night before the wedding. Some use the room to get ready for the wedding, or even for the night of the wedding. Unfortunately, hotel rates are pretty high depending on your location.
Advice: Check sites like Groupon, Expedia and Travelocity for current deals or promotions. If you have multiple guests staying in town, take advantage of the rooms that you blocked off to save some money for yourself.
31. Wedding Party Presents: Sometimes bride and grooms like to give gifts to the members of their wedding party. Such as your parents, the flower girl or ring bearer, the groomsmen or bridesmaids, and the ushers. Consider anyone who played a significant role in your wedding.
Advice: Pinterest is full of great ideas for wedding party presents. Shop around or DIY something personal that you know they will love! A popular item for bridesmaid and groomsmen include personalized koozies. For parents, go with something more sentimental, like handkerchiefs with an embroidered message.
32. Welcome Bag Delivery:  It will typically cost you money to have the front desk associate hand your guests a welcome bag. Or a staff member deliver it to their rooms. Fees range so be sure to inquire about their hotel policies before being surprised with additional costs.
welcome bag
Advice: Hand out welcome bags the night of the reception dinner, or ask a friend or family member staying in the same hotel to help out.
33. Day-Of Coordinator:  You deserve to enjoy your wedding day and not worry about taking phone calls from vendors, setting up the reception space, or sticking to the itinerary. Hire a day-of coordinator to take off the stress and deal with it all themselves. That way you can relax and enjoy your day.
Advice: Have a type-A person in your family? Request that they be your go-to person for phone calls, questions, and keeping the itinerary on schedule. You’ll save tons and they'll appreciate that you though of them.
34. Wedding Day Meals: We're not talking about the cocktail hour or reception dinner. Rather, what you're going to eat 8-10 hours leading up to the wedding. You and your ‘maids will be busy getting ready so making sure that there’s food to eat is super important for your health and sanity.
Advice: Designate a couple bridesmaids to be in charge of bringing food. Bagels and fruit are perfect for breakfast and sandwiches or an early lunch. If worst comes to worst, order room service! Above all else, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
35. Forgotten Items: It’s the last thing every bride or groom wants to worry about, but it’s SO important to plan for. Whether you get to the venue and realize you’ve forgotten your hosiery, the groom’s socks, or spaced on getting a ring bearer pillow. Have some backup cash for your aunt Sally to make a quick run to the store.
Advice: Start packing at least a week in advance! The things that you are most likely to forget are the little items you keep around the house and can pack ahead of time. Find a wedding day checklist online and get yourself organized!
36. Post-Wedding Tasks: The wedding is over, but there are still fees to incur! Don’t forget that you’ll need to purchase thank you notes, MORE postage, and a gown preservation kit (if you want to preserve your gown).
Advice: This goes against wedding etiquette, but if you’re strapped for cash, go with a site such as Postable. It allows you to send personalized invites through email.
37. Pre-Honeymoon Expenses: Besides the cost of the honeymoon itself there are other travel fees. Including passports, a travel-guide, language classes, luggage, vacation clothes, and car rentals. All these things are worth adding to your budget!
Advice: Start planning early. Shop for you honeymoon items during the off-season! For example, luggage and summer clothing during the winter.

Let's Chat! 

Hopefully our list of hidden wedding costs will help you feel better prepared! By understanding the full range of costs and feels, your budget will be more realistic. Plus you will be able to avoid any surprises! No one ever said that weddings were cheap, but at least you won't be caught off guard. For more help planning your finances for the big day, check out our blog on everything you need to discuss before setting a final wedding budget. It even includes a worksheet! What surprise costs have you encountered while planning your wedding so far? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Want to help your bridesmaids save on the big day too? Kennedy Blue is here to answer these tough questions, and provide you with some guidance, when it comes to purchasing bridesmaid dresses. Check it out!

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Leave a comment

Amy Jorgensen
March 06, 2020 10:36

So much useful advice. Some things I never even knew I needed to look into. Thanks so much!

Arielle Floyd
November 02, 2017 20:29

These are great tips!

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