Wedding Budget Hidden Costs

Wedding Budget – 13 Hidden Costs

Wedding Budget Hidden Costs

13 hidden costs to plan for when creating your wedding budget. Planning a wedding can be expensive.  Very Expensive. According to The Knot’s 2019 Real Wedding Study, the average national cost of a wedding last year was $33,900, compared to $31,213 in 2014. There’s the cost of the reception venue, food, drinks, wedding dress, flowers, etc.  But there are many add on expenses that can eat into your wedding budget very quickly.  Some of these costs are well known but you can’t forget to add them to your budget.  Others are less obvious. 

1.    Credit card fees – It has become more and more common for venues and other vendors to charge between 2% and 4% if you pay using a credit card. I recently encountered a very surprised MOB when she saw the 3.5% added on to the catering bill because she used a credit card to settle the bill. 

2.    Taxes and gratuities.  This can add up quickly, so build it into your budget.  Bar and catering services will add taxes and gratuities.  If the tax rate is 6% and gratuities are 20% that is $260 for every $1,000 you spend.

3.    Gratuities for Service Providers.  When you’re determining who to tip and how much, check your contracts to see if the gratuity is already included.  For example, the contract for the limo may already include the tip for the driver.  If the service provider is the owner of the business, then there is no need to tip them.  Some general guidelines are:

  •          Hairstylist- 15 – 20%
  •          Make-up Artist  – 15 – 20%
  •          Limo or party bus driver – 15%
  •          Wedding planner – 15%
  •          Photographer (if they are not the owner) – $100 – $150
  •          Wedding delivery and set up staff –  According to “Slip a few dollars to anyone delivering important items to the site such as the wedding cake, flowers or sound system. If a lot of gear needs to be brought in and set up (tents, chairs or porta-potties), the workers deserve a tip too.” – $5 – $20 per person. 
  •          Wedding ceremony officiant – If the officiant is from a church or synagogue you are affiliated with, then you would give a donation to the church or synagogue.  Otherwise, tip the officiant $50 – $100. 

4.    Accessories like necklaces, earrings, bracelet, garter, undergarments, etc.  These can all add up quickly.  I recommend that brides budget between $250 and $500 for these items. 

5.    Rentals – You might think of the big things like an arch or extra chairs but don’t forget linens, napkins, chargers and other décor.  You may also choose to rent cake stands from your baker or vases for your florist.

6.    Cake cutting/ plating fee – Many caterers or venues will charge a per person fee to cut and plate the cake.  Recently, I heard of a venue that is charging $1.25 a person to clean up the cupcake wrappers if the couple serves cupcakes instead of cake. 

7.    Shipping costs – Buying wedding decorations, dresses, and other items online is convenient and can often save you money.  Don’t forget to factor in the shipping costs to your budget.  If you are doing a lot of online shopping it may be worth the Amazon Prime membership

8.    Wedding Postage – Don’t forget to add in postage for your save the dates, invitations, and the RSVP cards.  If your invitation is oversized or heavier than 1 ounce then according to the USPS, “Square, oversized, or unusually shaped envelope stamps start at $0.71.” versus $.50 for a standard-sized envelope. Sending invitations to International guests will cost more.  

9.    Outdoor weddings –  These costs are easy to overlook and can add up fast.  Do you need to rent Porta Potties?  Don’t forget the cost to spray for bugs. (I’ve had great experiences with Mosquito Squad!) Does your tent come with a dance floor or do you need to rent one?  What about a backup plan and umbrellas?  Is there enough parking at your outdoor location or will guests need to park at a nearby location and be transported to your ceremony or reception location?  This is often the case for beach weddings. 

10.  Overtime charges – Read your contracts carefully to ensure you are aware of the agreed-upon time commitment and charges for extra hours.  Typically, your photographer, DJ, band, videographer and photo booth may be providing their services for a set amount of time.  Some venues will charge you if you do not vacate the premises on time at the end of the reception.

11.  Vendor Meals – You will need to feed any vendor who is working at the reception.  This can include your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, DJ, photo booth operator, and their assistants. 

12.  Wedding day meals – Don’t forget to eat.  You don’t want anyone to faint or to drink on an empty stomach.  Many of my brides will order Jimmy Johns and have it delivered while everyone is dressing.  Panera Bread is another great option for bagels, fruit, coffee, and juice. 

13.  Welcome bag delivery – If you are providing welcome bags for out of town guests, the hotel may charge $2 – $3 to deliver the bags to your guests. 


When creating your wedding budget, don’t forget the items above. Add them as separate line items so they don’t get overlooked and forgotten.   Another good idea is to have a contingency line in your budget.  I recommend 10% as a contingency…. So if your wedding budget is $20,000, then your contingency would be $2,000.00. 

I’d love to hear of any other hidden costs that you have run across so I can help other brides successfully budget for their perfect wedding!


Blue Skies!


Related Links:

Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

 Wedding Registry Round Up

Mother of the Bride Wedding Planning Checklist

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