A marriage license costs less than $100, but a wedding can cost as much as a luxury vehicle or a down payment on a house. Even if you wed on a budget, there are often hidden costs that blindside you. Be sure to factor in these unexpected costs so you can save accordingly.
1. Know the true cost of your venue
You found your dream venue, and you’re probably paying thousands of dollars just to be there for a couple of hours. But often that’s just the beginning of your vendor bill. Will you be charged for the wedding rehearsal? What about a wedding coordinator? A cleanup fee?
2. How optional are à la carte extras
Many venues will let you use their chairs — for $12 each, add another $3 for sashes, $3 for napkins, candles, tablecloths, the list goes on. These are presented as optional, but sometimes you’re pretty much stuck with them. If you bring in your own decoration, will there be an additional setup and breakdown fee? Are there restrictions on what type of candles you can use?
3. The price of postage
Plan on four stamps for every invite – the Save the Date, the invitation itself, the RSVP envelope, and a thank you note. At the costs of stamps today, that adds up to $1.96. When choosing your invites keep in mind that square cards require additional postage and will tack on an extra 21 cents each.
4. Unexpected stationery costs
When we think of the stationery we’ll need, we think of the invites. But there’s actually a lot of signage for the day of the wedding like programs, place cards, and menus. Kits and templates make it easy to create yourself, so this is one DIY you may want to take on.
5. What’s that cake really costing you
Most people bring in their own wedding cake and that is probably going to cost you. A cake service fee can run $3 per person. Even if you don’t need cake plates, cupcakes and other desserts will likely still cost a per person, or flat fee. Book with a vendor’s recommended baker and you may get a discounted fee per person for cake service.
6. Don’t forget the tips
Tips alone could cost hundreds of dollars you didn’t plug into the initial budget. Some may be built into the contract (check the fine print on your caterer’s contract). Others are just customary — the band, the hairdresser, the limo driver, the bartenders, the officiant.
7. A champagne toast can add up
Some vendors who don’t permit outside food and drink will make an exception for the champagne toast. However, you will probably be charged a corkage fee. Meaning the price of your basic $15 bottle of champagne could be doubled.
8. Feeding your vendors
It’s standard to feed your vendors. In fact, it’s probably in their contract. Be sure to factor musicians, photographers, videographers, and more into your contract. You’ll also want to ask your venue if you’re responsible for feeding anyone employed by them, such as bartenders or the wedding coordinator, and whether that’s on your tab, or theirs.
9. The gifts you don’t think of
There are thank you gifts for the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, flower girl, ring boy, parents and more. Some people make welcome bags for out-of-town guests. It’s wonderful to show your appreciation, but these gifts can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars you didn’t plan on.
10. The pain of overtime
Want to keep the party going? Your musicians may keep playing, your bartenders may keep serving, and your photographer may keep snapping pics, but they’ll probably charge you heavily for it. Also, some venues will fine you if you go overtime. Many parties also have to be shut down by a designated time to keep from violating city noise ordinances.