Wedding Planning

/ January 23, 2017

Did you know that, despite the many hours often put into budgeting for a wedding, most couples still overlook some very important costs? These fees can unfortunately add up to a large unexpected total, leaving many newlywed couples stressed and worried about how they’ll be able to pay for everything. As a newly married couple, you should be enjoying wedded bliss, not worrying about where the extra money is coming from. Take a look at these 18 common unexpected wedding costs to make sure you’ve budgeted correctly for your big day!



Nowadays it’s common for a bride to do something special for her Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids when asking them to be a part of her bridal party. Whether it’s throwing an intimate lunch, gifting some jewelry, or something even more elaborate, this cost is often overlooked by most couples. 
Average Cost: Depending on how you plan to ask your bridesmaids, this can run from $2 (a personalized card) to $50 (a nice dinner) or more per person. 
How to Avoid It: Brainstorm some creative ways to ask your bridesmaids that won’t break the bank. Do a little research to see just how much you’ll need to spend, then make sure you’ve budgeted for it so these little surprise costs won’t keep adding up.


You’ve spent all this money on those gorgeous invitations- but what about actually sending them out? Your wedding invitations, save-the-dates, rehearsal invitations, and other shower/event invitations will all need postage in order to be sent out. 
Average Cost: Depending on the weight, shape, and size of your envelopes or packages, this typically can cost up to $2 per envelope. 
How to Avoid It: When designing your invitations, pay attention to their size and shape. Also be mindful of the paper stock you select in terms of weight. You can still have beautiful invitations that won’t cost a fortune to send out.


You’ve found the perfect dress! …but it doesn’t fit quite right. Alterations are almost always needed before the big day, whether it’s something as simple as a hem or as elaborate as customizing the bodice of your gown. In addition, you’ll likely need to have your dress steamed, which is another little cost that adds up quickly. 
Average Cost: Depending on how many alterations or what services exactly you need, this can easily cost you $100 up to hundreds of dollars, if not more. 
How to Avoid It: Ask your bridal store if any complimentary alterations or steaming is included with the purchase of your gown. Try to find the right style gown for your body shape so that minimal alterations are needed.


It’s likely you and your soon-to-be spouse will want to wear something special for each of your wedding-related events. From the engagement party, to the showers, to the rehearsal dinner, and even to your reception, you may need to go shopping for some new attire. 
Average Cost: This really depends on how many outfits you need and where you shop, so it’s nearly impossible to provide an average cost. However, many couples will splurge a bit here to make sure they look and feel their best, so plan accordingly! 
How to Avoid It: Depending on the occasion, consider renting something or borrowing something from a friend. Or, shop for bargains or items you can mix and match so you won’t need to purchase as many outfits. Do your best to find something you’ll get a lot of use out of to make sure you get your money’s worth.


If you’ve reserved a hotel block for guests, they’ll likely charge you a fee to deliver the welcome bags to your guests’ rooms. Unfortunately many hotels won’t divulge this information unless you ask. 
Average Cost: Up to $10 per bag. 
How to Avoid It: Be sure to ask your hotel up front about this cost. Many hotels will also charge you if they need to hold the bags for you before guests arrive. Try to appoint someone you trust to drop the bags off right before guests arrive, and even deliver the bags for you if the hotel will cooperate.


It’s common courtesy to provide some of your vendors a meal on your wedding day. For the vendors who will be at your wedding for many, many hours, they’ll need to stay hydrated and well fed in order to stay focused and do their best work. 
Average Cost: Depending on how many vendors you’ll need to feed, this can cost you up to a few hundred dollars extra. Keep in mind, though, that vendor meals are often much cheaper than guest meals. 
How to Avoid It: Plan ahead and know exactly how many vendor meals you’ll need. Let your caterer know well in advance the head count for vendor meals, and this will help you avoid any last minute up-charges or surprise costs you didn’t initially budget for.


These aren’t necessarily hidden costs, but many couples tend to forget about the taxes that will be added onto everything. Additionally, in the wedding industry, couples usually provide gratuities to vendors, and certain providers also have service charges when providing particular services. 
Average Cost: This completely depends on your state, the type of venue you’re using, and a variety of other factors, so it’s impossible to say what an “average” cost would be. 
How to Avoid It: It’s all about communication- ask your vendors if there are any service charges so you’re aware of them. When budgeting, make sure you account for taxes as well as gratuities you intend to pay to each vendor.


Certain vendors, particularly musicians and photographers, book their services for a set amount of time. If your wedding runs longer than the time you’ve initially booked your vendors for, they’ll likely charge you overtime fees. 
Average Cost: Depending on your area and the vendor, these typically start at $200 to $250 an hour. 
How to Avoid It: When booking vendors, review the packages they offer and make sure you select one that meets your needs. If budget becomes an issue, you should prioritize what’s most important; book the respective vendor for an adequate amount of time, and book others for less time, bringing your budget back down.


Whether or not you’ll have this fee depends on your venue and the vendors you use. If the alcohol and cake are provided by your venue, these costs will be included in the price you pay to your reception site. If, however, you bring in alcohol or a cake from an outside vendor, your reception venue will charge to slice the cake and open each bottle of alcohol. 
Average Cost: Typically venues charge $2 to $5 per guest for slicing the cake, and from $2 to $3 for each bottle they have to open. 
How to Avoid It: When picking your reception venue, ask about these fees. Also try to select a venue that you’d be comfortable getting your cake and alcohol from to avoid these potential fees.


A full-service venue won’t have these charges, but if you simply rent out a space for your wedding, you’ll likely have to pay for cleanup and breakdown fees when the day is over. 
Average Cost: Cost varies, but this could potentially run you $500-1000. 
How to Avoid It: When researching venues, weigh your options by breaking down the prices. It may suit you better to book a full-service venue or renting a space and paying these fees may meet your budget better.


Rental companies will give you itemized pricing, but unfortunately they often won’t mention certain surcharges you’ll end up paying for. The most common is transportation; your cake table and chivari chairs have to arrive at your venue somehow! 
Average Cost: This greatly depends on how many items you’ve rented and their sizes, but expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 if not more. 
How to Avoid It: Before hiring your rental company, ask if their transportation charges are included in their itemized pricing. If not, make sure to ask for the estimated charges including any other hidden fees so you can budget accordingly.


Depending on the location of your wedding, some venues have a preferred vendor list. Unfortunately the consequences for using your own vendors (who aren’t on the list) can be costly. 
Average Cost: Expect to pay an extra 20%. 
How to Avoid It: When deciding between venues, ask if they have a preferred vendor list and what the charges are for using ones who aren’t on the list (if it’s even allowed!). Review the vendors on that list as part of your decision-making process.


Aside from your wedding dress, don’t forget about the veil, shoes, undergarments and shape wear, and bridal jewelry. Brides want to look and feel their best, so these items are usually splurged on but often forgotten when budgeting. 
Average Cost: Typically brides spend $200 to $500. 
How to Avoid It: You’ll likely want to purchase your own veil, shoes, and obviously undergarments, but consider borrowing jewelry to cut down on costs (plus you’ll have your “something borrowed”!).


Before the big day, you’ll probably want to get a few treatments such as a hair cut and color, facial, massage, spray tan, or mani-pedi. Additionally, many brides forget that they’ll often have to pay for a trial run with their hair and makeup artists. 
Average Cost: This can easily cost you a few hundred dollars, depending on how many appointments you’ll need. 
How to Avoid It: Browse sites such as Groupon for great deals and packages to cut down on costs, and make sure to ask your hired hair and makeup stylists how much their trial runs are.


If you’re planning a destination wedding or traveling out of the country for your honeymoon, make sure you have your passport ready. Even if you already have one, double check the expiration date to ensure you won’t run into any problems while trying to catch your flight abroad. 
Average Cost: On average, one passport typically costs around $150. 
How to Avoid It: Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about these fees if you need a passport, but be sure to apply way ahead of the time you’ll need it to avoid any rush fees. Double check your expiration date well in advance to know whether or not you’ll need to renew.


This is a must for every couple before saying I Do. Although it’s a rather nominal fee, it’s a mandatory item in order to make your marriage legal, and the expense is often forgotten. 
Average Cost: Depending on your state, this can cost you anywhere from $15 to $100. 
How to Avoid It: This one is unavoidable, but make sure you check with your local county office for pricing to include it in your budget.


It’s common for brides and grooms to present gifts to their parents at their weddings as a little way to say thank you. This sweet gesture doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, but it’s a way of remembering everything they’ve done for you. 
Average Cost: Something small can cost up to $50 per parent or something elaborate can cost hundreds per parent. 
How to Avoid It: Plan ahead to avoid having to find something last-minute. Get creative and give your parents something handmade if they’d like it.


When you receive gifts, whether before or after the wedding, it’s proper etiquette to write a thank you note to each of the gift-givers. These are often overlooked, especially since they’re often an expense couples incur after the wedding, but nonetheless it’s a wedding expense that should be accounted for. 
Average Cost: $1 to $4 per card. 
How to Avoid It: If you want to follow proper etiquette, you won’t be able to avoid these charges, but you can browse for great deals. Minted and Wedding Paper Divas are two of our favorite online retailers who often run promotions on their paper goods.