Beware of Hidden Wedding Costs That Can Balloon Your Budget

Hidden Wedding CostsYou’ve popped the question, and your partner has said “Yes”. Happy days indeed. But soon the time will come to get down to the business of actually planning your wedding; and make no mistake, weddings are big business.

Last year, the average cost of a wedding topped $30,000, and the trend towards higher wedding costs shows no signs of slowing. So how can you be expected to plan for the big day without seeing your budget spin out of control?

Well, the devil, as they say, is in the details. When it comes to planning your wedding, you need to watch out for the hidden costs that can easily push you over budget and into the red.

Wedding Dress Alterations

Come the big day, everyone’s focus will be on the bride and her wedding gown (sorry fellas, that’s just the way things are), and it can take months of searching to find the perfect dress at just the right price.

But a wedding gown’s price tag rarely tells the full story, and there will be some additional costs to consider over and above that magic number.

Few, if any, wedding gowns are aisle ready right off the peg, and some alterations will have to be made if the bride is to look her best. Those alterations aren’t free, and they can easily add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a wedding gown. When shopping for your wedding dress, always ask how much the shop charges for alterations, and figure those prices into the total cost of your gown.

Invitations and Postage

Eye catching and elaborate wedding invitations are hard to resist, and you may decide that it’s worth paying a little extra for something truly special. But the cost of invitations isn’t limited to stationary and printing fees; there’s also the postage to consider.

Oversized and bulky wedding invitations can cost upwards of $2 each to mail, and if you’re planning a large wedding that can add hundreds of dollars to your budget. If you’re trying to keep your spending under control, skip the overly elaborate wedding invitations and choose something that won’t cost a bundle in postage fees.

Cake Cutting and Corkage Fees

Wedding CakeIf you use the on-site catering or bar tending services offered by your reception venue, any cake cutting or corkage fees will likely be bundled into the total cost you’ve been quoted. However, if you choose and independent baker, or you supply your own liquor, you may have to make allowances in your budget for these additional charges.

Keep in mind the venue’s staff will be tasked with cutting and serving the wedding cake, and decanting and serving the wines. That means more work for them, and they will charge you accordingly.

For example, a cake cutting fee can run anywhere from $2 to $5 per guest, which can add up pretty quickly. Ask if there will be any cake cutting or corkage fees before you decide to go with an off-site catering or bar tending service.

Overtime Fees

When you book your wedding entertainment, photographers, and any other vendors who will be on-site during your wedding or reception, you are hiring them for a set period of time. Should the party run longer than you had planned, you will be expected to pay those vendors overtime. That can add up to a lot of money in a very short time.

Remember, overtime charges can be as much as 50% more than the vendors normal hourly rate. To avoid getting hit with excessive overtime fees, allow for a few extra hours in your wedding day schedule. This will provide the buffer you need should the party carry on longer than expected. Also, before signing any contracts with your vendors get their overtime fees in writing so you know what to expect if you decide to extend the festivities.


Some wedding vendors include a gratuity in the prices they quote for their services, and this should be clearly stated in your contract. Caterers, for example, will often include a 15% to 20% gratuity in their bill, which will be divided amongst the staff that works your wedding. That being said, you should set aside a special fund for tipping those vendors, and any members of their staff, who perform above and beyond the call of duty, even if a gratuity is already figured in the bill.

Then, of course, there are the vendors that do not include a preset gratuity in their bills, and you should be prepared to give each of them a little something extra in their pay packet as well. Remember, it takes a great many people to make your wedding a success, and you want to show your appreciation for their hard work. When preparing your wedding budget, don’t forget to factor in the cost of tips and gratuities for the vendors and on-site staff that have contributed so much to your big day.

Sticking to a budget can be difficult, particularly if you fail to figure in the hidden costs associated with planning a wedding. However, once you know what to watch out for, you can craft a wedding budget that will cover all contingencies, while still leaving you a little breathing room. If you plan accordingly, you can keep your wedding budget from ballooning out of control.

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