Nothing is more of a reality check than finding your dream (insert your most desirable item here) and then realizing its way out of budget! While budgets and unexpected wedding costs are not the most glamorous aspect of wedding planning, it is certainly one of the most important pieces that determines almost every decision you will make during planning, so we should spend some time talking about it! Whether you have a tight budget or one of those budgets that magically keeps expanding, these are 8 costs you should be aware of that might sneak up on you, and we sure don’t want that to happen!
You need stamps for your save the dates, for your invitations and often they are included on the RSVP cards that your guests will send back to you (unless you do your RSVPS on your wedding website- woo no stamps!). While one stamp at $0.49 may seem like a small cost compared to your overall budget, those little suckers sure find a way to add up quickly. Oh, your invitations are square, that will be an additional postage cost. Oh, they’re square and have all the pretty things inside that make them weigh more- well that will be an additional cost as well.
It is few and far between that you happen to find a dress that fits you like a glove without any alterations. Be aware not only of the cost, but also of the time frame needed to alter it the way you would like (many popular seamstresses have waiting lists!). Most local seamstresses can alter many fabrics of wedding dresses, but make sure you find someone you trust before handing over your dress, which may mean paying a higher price to get the pro you want.
While this typically is not a huge budget buster, don’t be surprised when the rental company tells you they are missing five wine glasses, one dessert plate and three forks. Guests at weddings (read: inebriated guests) have a habit of often walking off with their drink, setting it down in some corner and then forgetting about it – only to go and get a new drink because they don’t remember where they set their first one down. I always do one last walk through of the whole venue at the end of a wedding to make sure there aren’t any jackets, wine glasses and forks laying around, but somehow (slightly drunk) people come up with the best hiding places and alas, some often go missing. While the cost of renting the item may be small, it will be slightly higher for the rental company to re-purchase, so just be aware.
Tipping is one of those costs that, while not expected, is a great thing you can do to show your appreciation for certain vendors you feel have gone above and beyond to meet all of your needs. The amount you tip is completely up to you (although, don’t tip the regular 15- 20% like at restaurants, those tips would be outrageously generous), but they usually run between $25-$200 per vendor which can add up quickly, especially when you have a lot of awesome vendors! I would add this cost to your initial budget sheet in the hope that all of your vendors perform to your liking so you can pass on your gratitude without feeling like you are pulling extra money out in order to tip (reviews are also always a great tip alternative)!
While some photographers provide all of their clients a link to freely download all of their wedding images, other photographers may require you to purchase each individual photo you want. Neither way is better than the other, but you sure don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a photographer to unexpectedly find out on your honeymoon that you have to buy each and every photo you like. Just be sure to check with your photographer on exactly what is included in their package so you aren’t disappointed or upset if you run into this unexpected cost.
Yep, you gotta feed your vendors. Some caterers offer a reduced vendor meal fee and some offer boxed meals instead. While it can be tempting to get the less expensive boxed meals, your vendors work really hard to make your wedding day happen and execute at a high level, so its always nice to offer them the same meal as guests, if you can. As a planner, when I’m doing vendor confirmations, I always ask your vendors for any dietary restrictions and communicate their preferences and meal counts to your caterer, so you don’t need to worry about gathering this information. To get the most accurate catering quote, always inform your caterer of the expected number of vendor meals needed so your quote always remains accurate and you aren’t unexpectedly hit with that extra cost. Keep in mind some vendors have assistants with them that will need to be fed as well.
Of course you’re aware of the large venue rental fee – it could potentially be one of the largest costs in your entire budget. What I mean by Additional Venue Rental Fees is this: pay attention to the timing of the rental fee – is it $4,000 for a 6 hour time frame or for a 10 hour time frame? Remember, you don’t only need the venue during the hours of the actual wedding, your vendors all need access to the venue at least one hour before (and that’s only if you have extremely minimal set up). Typically, three to four hours for set up is great and one hour for strike at the end of the night is sufficient for most weddings. If you aren’t planning on extending your rental hours, make sure you limit your decor to an amount that can realistically be done in time for the wedding to begin, otherwise the whole day will be running behind if the set up runs late. If you don’t know how long its going to take to get something set up, always error on the side of it taking longer than you think! (A side note of this: if your venue has a bar and is providing bar service, make sure the hours included are the hours you want and need)
You didn’t think the flowers just appeared at the venue did you? Someone has to get all of the things to you. This is often called a delivery fee and is sometimes included in the cost and sometimes not, so always be sure to ask if it’s extra for delivery. There is always the option of asking your helpful friends to pick up the 200 assorted tarts on their way (don’t be afraid to ask! Many friends would love to help but aren’t sure how!), but if you don’t feel comfortable or confident the dessert will get there safely with your friends driving, its best to have the baker deliver directly. Usually, the three vendors many weddings have that encounter delivery fees are rentals (which will always be included in the quote), florist and bakery or dessert. If you’re booking with vendors who are in the area, the delivery fee is usually in the $50 range. Again, not huge, but can add up and best to always ask up front if the vendor can deliver on the day of your wedding since you may not be the only wedding they have that day and they may have other deliveries already scheduled. Also, keep in mine other vendors, such as a make up artist, planner, or DJ may have travel fees.
The bottom line (no pun intended) is that something will (almost) always end up costing more than budgeted for. I recommend dedicating 1-2% of your total budget to cover additional unexpected costs (or those you frankly stop caring about 1 month before your wedding and just say yes to make your life easier), on top of these listed above, which are now not so unexpected to you, budget master!
Did you have any unexpected costs while planning your wedding? Leave them in the comments below!