When you think of budgeting for your wedding there are a few major items that jump to the front of the line – photography, flowers, venue (oh, it’s at UTCF you say, you have such great taste!). But what about the “other” things that get left out of your excel spreadsheet and somehow show up when they are leaving your bank account! Here are a few of the big ones that hit home with us – check out the full list of the 30 Unexpected Wedding Costs Brides Forget to Budget For by Kristen O’Gorman Klien for BridalGuide.com
Asking Bridesmaids in a Special Way: For many brides, asking their nearest and dearest to stand up with them on their wedding day simply isn’t something that can be done via phone or text — or even just on your regular girl’s night out. Brides are popping the question to their ‘maids with creative gifts (try this fun idea!), personalized cards, or taking them out to a nice lunch or dinner, according to Plum Pretty Sugar. But remember that those little costs can add up!
Beauty Treatments: You’ve already set aside money for your professional hair styling and makeup application on the wedding day — but remember that you may need more than one trial for each in order to feel fully comfortable on the Big Day. Also, keep in mind any pre-wedding beauty treatments you may want to indulge in, from a mani/pedi to a spray tan to a massage. If there’s a more expensive service you are dying to try, look for deals via daily deal sites like Groupon, said Andrea Woroch, a consumer money-saving expert frequently featured on Today, Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, and more.
Day-of Stationery: Don’t blow your entire stationery budget on your save-the-dates and invitations — you also need to think about programs, escort cards, place cards, menu cards, and any other day-of needs you may encounter. “We suggest adding a separate line item in the budget for day-of stationery so brides can budget accordingly,” advised Wedding Paper Divas. Here’s how to save money on stationery.
Postage: When choosing your invitations, be sure to weigh it carefully — if it’s more than one ounce, you’re going to need additional postage. Some invitations can set you back $1 or more in postage fees. Keep in mind that extra postage is also required for square invitations, regardless of weight. Also, don’t forget that you also need stamps for your save-the-dates, RSVP cards, and thank-you notes. And try not to obsess over matching your postage to your invitation theme, which can sometimes lead you to choose a more expensive stamp just for the design — No one will remember the stamps,” said Woroch.
A Hotel Room the Night Before: If you and your bridesmaids are planning on getting ready in a hotel suite, pay attention to check in/check out times — you’ll often need to book the room for two nights in order to have the morning to get ready. “Many hotels will not guarantee an early check-in on the wedding date,” said Karen Bussen, A-list wedding planner and designer of Simple Stunning Destination Weddings for Palladium Hotels and Resorts. “To be safe, and especially if you have a larger bridal party, you might want to consider reserving your room for not just the wedding night, but the night before as well. This way, you can check in at your leisure the night before, sleep a little late, order room service, and invite the ladies to join you for a relaxing day of pampering and getting dolled up.”
Meals on the Wedding Day: Whether you’re getting ready at home or in a hotel, your bridesmaids will likely be with you every step of the way. Don’t let them starve! Keep it simple with bagels and fruit for breakfast and a platter of sandwiches for lunch. “And don’t forget the champagne!” said Damon Dietz of Absolute Media Productions. Here are 5 healthy breakfast ideas.
Undergarments and Accessories: Also, save room in your fashion budget for the extras: Your veil, shoes, undergarments and/or shapewear, and jewelry, which can set you back $200 to $500 or more (see the best new bridal accessories under $100). You can cut costs by making your veil or jewelry your “something borrowed.”
Pre-Wedding Party Attire: Another forgotten fashion item: Cute dresses for your pre-wedding events, said Woroch. From the engagement party to the bridal shower to the bachelorette party to the rehearsal dinner to the day-after brunch, you’ll be celebrating all year long with your nearest and dearest. Save money by re-wearing dresses you already own — you don’t need a little white dress for every party just because you’re the bride.
Welcome Bags: While these are certainly not required, gift bags are a lovely touch if you’re hosting out-of-towners. “They may include handwritten welcome notes from the bride and groom, fresh fruit or flowers, disposable cameras, bottled water, a schedule of events, brochures for local attractions, and a city map,” said Warner. Get more ideas for your welcome baskets here.
Presents for Parents and Other Family Members: You already know that you’ll need gifts for your hardworking bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, and ring bearers. But don’t forget about your parents! Consider an engraved frame, an IOU for a parents’ album after the Big Day, or even a second honeymoon package. “It doesn’t have to be costly — the emphasis should be on remembering them. But if you calculate these costs, you won’t be surprised down the road,” said photographer Elisa Bricker. Some couples also opt to give small gifts to other family members, like grandparents and any siblings not included in the bridal party. “Purchase these gifts early in the planning process so the expense doesn’t hit you at the last minute,” recommended Warner. (Check out 40+ bridal party presents and sweet thank-you gifts for parents.)
Day-of Coordinator: So many DIY brides decide at the last minute that they’ll need a little help on the big day. “You really don’t want to be stuck taking calls from your florist and band on your way to your first look, do you?” reminded Woroch. Enter theday-of coordinator, which can run you about $500 to $2,000. “It’s best to plan this into your budget ahead of time. Then, if you feel you got it all under control, that’s just extra cash in your pocket.”
Vendor Meals: Your photographer and videographer will be with you for 8+ hours on the wedding day; they’re going to need some fuel to keep making sure you look your best all night long. “Vendor meals are usually much cheaper than guest entrees, but depending on the size of your band, number of photographers, videographers and coordinators, you may be looking at a few hundred dollars extra,” said Woroch.
Lighting: “A simple addition of up-lights around a reception area can cost around $1,000, so it is best to plan ahead,” said Stacey Lynn of Stacey Lynn Design. Other popular lighting options: Pin-spotting (to highlight centerpieces or accent areas, like the cake display), a wash (general room color or dance floor), and a custom-designed gobo projection, such as a monogram. But lighting isn’t just an “extra” — if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s a requirement. Consider hanging bistro lights, chandeliers or lanterns to create the perfect rustic-chic space, said Stacey Lynn. Check out 15 fun ways to light up your reception here.
Sound: Having an outdoor wedding? Invest in a sound system if you want your guests to actually be able to hear your vows. “It doesn’t matter if you’re only having 50 guests — without a sound system, your guests will struggle to hear your ceremony, and that means they’ll miss out on the heart of your wedding,” said event planner Amy Kaneko. “And if you’ve hired musicians to play as you walk down the aisle, they also need to be amplified, or those songs you’ve so carefully chosen will be wimpy instead of powerful. Spend the money on a sound system, even if it means you need to trim elsewhere.”
Décor Beyond the Flowers: The majority of your décor budget will likely be allocated to flowers, but set aside $25-30 per table for the non-floral elements: “Candles, glass hurricanes, mercury votives, specialty linens, flatware and even how you will identify your tables are all important details that can drastically change your budget if you have not accounted for these details,” said Lindsey of L. Brook Events. And if you’re looking to add additional elements like lanterns or vintage décor rentals, you may want to save as much as 40 percent of your total décor budget for these pieces. Plus, you can also save on flowers by choosing in-season blooms — see your best picks for your wedding month.
Also, always overestimate how many items you’ll need. At one wedding Warner attended, the couple planned an elegant candlelit wedding ceremony. “However, as friends and family members began decorating the ceremony venue, they realized they needed at least a hundred more candles to provide enough light at the front of the chapel,” said Warner.
Including Yourselves in the Final Count: Sorry, the bride and groom don’t eat for free at the wedding. “I always have to remind my brides and grooms to include themselves in the table count!” said Douglas Hoagland, director of catering at SLS Hotel Beverly Hills. “I have had seen it too many times where the couple forgets to include themselves when making their table arrangements.”
A Backup Plan: You know that if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, you should have a tent on stand-by in case of rain. But even if you luck out with sunshine on the big day, the previous day’s weather can become an important factor. “At one wedding, it rained hard the previous day, which left the grass soft and soggy. The last-minute solution was to add a wooden floor to the cost of the tent rental,” said Warner. “If there is the slightest issue with bugs or any dew or moisture on the ground (let alone an actual rainstorm!), your whole event could be ruined,” said Bussen. “I suggest planning a floor with your tent from the beginning.” For a more budget-friendly option, opt for an interlocking plastic floor, which is typically covered with carpet or Astroturf. The more spendy option is a sub-plywood flooring, where the tent company builds a floor and covers it with your choice of coverings. “It’s more expensive, but the advantage is this type of floor is level and polished.”
Gratuities: When you’re already paying astronomical costs, it can feel downright painful to add a tip on top of that — if you didn’t budget accordingly. Poppy & Plum Events recommends allotting 5 to 10% of your overall budget to gratuities. The general rule of thumb is that if your vendor is also the business owner, a tip is not required (though it’s always a welcome bonus). Also, some vendors (like your venue or caterer) may already include gratuities in your quote, so check your contracts carefully. According to Bobette Kyle, author of Dream Wedding on a Dime, some of the often-forgotten vendors include bartenders, servers, valets, coat check attendants, officiants, makeup artists, hair stylists, the cake delivery team, and limo drivers.
Sales Tax and Service Charges: Check over your contracts carefully to ensure that sales tax is included in the quoted price; otherwise, you may be in for a surprise when you receive your final bills. ”It may sound insignificant, but when you’re talking amounts the size of a reception bill, the taxes can add up,” said Kyle. Also, service charges are not the same as gratuities; “Sometimes, for example, a private club will just charge an 18-22 % service charge for administering the wedding,” explained Bussen. “This money is not distributed to tipped employees and gratuities may be left to your discretion, which could double the money you need for ‘service.'”
Additionally, the “plus plus” can make a huge difference. “If a caterer quotes you $110 per person ++, that means that you will also need to add service and tax on top of that quote,” explained Kaneko. “Those two tiny plus signs can add as much as 30% on top of the base cost. In this scenario, that miscalculation would equal $5,000 of unexpected catering costs for a 150-person wedding.”
Post-Wedding To-Dos: Sorry, but your wedding costs don’t end after “I do.” Unless you want to be spending your wedding gift money on thank-you cards, cleaning and preserving your gown, and making prints of your favorite wedding photos, set aside that money ahead of time. “Consider adding a few hundred dollars to your stationery budget for printing pictures and thank you cards,” the events team at the Shade Hotel recommended.
Already included all of the above items in your budget? Congratulations, you budget-savvy bride! But regardless, every bride should set aside 10 to 20% for “the other.” Lara Goldman of RomanticTravelBelize.com explains: “’Other’ is when the flower delivery got stuck in a storm, and you have to hire a local florist to use local flowers. ‘Other’ is for when the power suddenly goes out and you have to go buy 200 candles. ‘Other’ is for the ‘dear friend’ who cried that she and her new boyfriend weren’t invited, and you have to lie and say her invitation got lost in the mail. ‘Other’ is for the broken nail that broke so low you have to get a full set of acrylics at the last minute so your hands don’t look like a ditch diggers’.” If you prepare for the unexpected ahead of time, you won’t be left scrambling to come up with extra cash at the last minute.