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10 Hidden Costs in Your Wedding Budget

No one likes a bad surprise! How many of these hidden costs were you factoring in to your wedding budget?

1. Alterations

One of the biggest frustrations with dress shopping is stating your budget, finding the dress of your dreams at that price point, and finding out that you then owe an additional $1000 to make it fit your body. How is that still in budget?

Ask clarifying questions as you shop for places that do in-house alterations, and shop around for local tailors who may be more in your budget. Alteration costs can vary wildly depending on the design of the dress. It can be frustrating and costly to go with a place that charges a flat rate if you're only shortening the hem, and likewise, a dress with beading that has to be painstakingly removed and then hand stitched back into place will naturally cost more, so a flat-rate tailor may be more cost-effective for you.

Be cautious when it comes to custom sizes that are not made-to-measure. If your dress is made to measure, it should fit you without the need for alterations. If you are paying extra for a custom sized dress (for example, selecting a bodice and mix-and-matching with different sized skirt), it will fit better than a standard size, but may still require alternations, and those alternations may not cost less than they would have if you ordered the standard size.

2. Liability Insurance

Not every venue requires you to have wedding insurance, but in the event of a weather delay that messes up your flights, to something as large as a global pandemic, it's good to protect your wedding investment.

3. Vendor Meals

You may be factoring in how much your catering costs, but what about the number of vendors you have, and the vendor meals? Your vendors are on site all day and all night to produce your event (some for 12+ hours)! Making sure there is a dinner for them at some point in the evening will keep your dream team at peak performance!

Vendor meals do not cost as much as guest meals, but depending on the scale of your event and the number of vendors you have, this line item can sometimes take couples by surprise. Check your contracts to see how many you need to provide; not every vendor requires a meal (for example, hair and makeup artists are usually only on site during the getting ready stage of the day, and may not need to be factored in).

4. Postage

Those gorgeous invitation suites are already putting a dent in your budget. Did you consider what it costs to send them out?

Sending out 100 save the dates, 100 invites, and 100 thank you notes means a lot of stamps! Plus, invitation suites weigh more than your average letter, and can cost more to mail. They may also have to be hand-canceled, especially if they include bulkier or more fragile design elements like wax seals. This can sometimes incur an additional fee.

5. Taxes & Fees

This may sounds obvious, but with large ticket items, this can add up quickly. When you're considering the price tag, consider how much more your sales tax will be.

Let's also give a shoutout to Foreign Transaction fees, which can add a very unpleasant extra to your total cost.

Luckily, this is more optional with credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees, and by planning ahead for affordable money-changing options, you can avoid much of this. After all, not all ATMs are created equal, and wire transfers aren't always free. The good news, though, is there are good options out there, which will depend on your bank and on what your vendors accept.

Some vendors also charge credit card fees, an additional 3% charge to offset the cost of processing the transaction. You may have an option to pay cash to reduce this fee, which would save you the 3% (sometimes more).

6. Inclement Weather Back-Up Plans

If your venue doesn't have a built-in rain plan, factoring in the cost of a marquee/tent rental can take some couples by surprise. Oftentimes, due to limited availability, tents/marquees will have to be booked in advance whether or not you end up using them. While you won't owe the full amount if your forecast is clear skies, you will lose your deposit. Consider it peace-of-mind insurance, and be sure to factor it into your budget.

7. Vendor Travel Fees

You may find the perfect vendor in budget, but they may not be within a free-travel range. You may owe money for travel-related costs. This can range, depending on the vendor and the distance, to reimbursing for gas, to paying for flights/hotels, to paying for travel time.

Get a full sense of costs before moving forward with each vendor, so you can plan accordingly.

8. Rental Fees

If your caterer doesn't offer a basic "mise en place" (basically, your table settings, like forks, plates, etc.) or your venue comes with tables but they don't fit your vision, you may have to rely on furniture, linen, and/or glassware/dinnerware rentals.

Between the rental cost for each item, building in buffer (each guest, for example, will not only use ONE glass), and paying the rental delivery fees and staff, this line item can be much, much larger than couples expect.

9. Ceremony Fees

Some venues charge a separate fee for a ceremony. Whether this is an NYC restaurant, charging $500-2.5 K for you to have your ceremony on site, or a private venue that includes a ceremony charge, this fee can come as a surprise and should be factored into the budget before you commit to other vendors.

10. Extra Guests

This isn't hidden exactly, but many times, couples underestimate what it might cost to host each additional guest. Beyond the cost of catering, you must also factor in the invitation suite/stationery, and incremental costs for floral, rentals, staffing, additional favors/hotel bags, and so on. My advice? Invite exactly who you want to invite to your wedding, and skip the rest. Check out my Complete Guide for Cutting Your Guest List to learn more!

As always, your planner can help you figure out how best to move forward in any scenario, to maximize your wedding budget, and minimize those unpleasant costs and hidden fees.


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