Friday, February 28, 2014

20 Wedding Costs Brides Often Forget To Budget For

I am a is almost 6 months to the day since I said "I do" to my handsome. I have a background in the wedding industry as well as a sister who married three years earlier, so there were not many financial surprises for us when we were wedding planning. However, not every bride has the inside scoop to how much a wedding is REALLY going to cost. 

This post is dedicated to helping brides plan financially for their big day. Everyone knows to plan for the obvious: the dress, the photographer, the floral, the food, the music etc. but there are so many less obvious items you have to have (or really want) but do not necessarily think of when budgeting. Most don't appear pricey alone but everything adds up so it is better to be prepared for the unexpected.

Here are 20 things I think you should know when budgeting for your big day!

1) Beauty Treatments: 
Leading up to the big day you may want to have a couple things done. Before you panic...I am not talking about surgery. Some things to keep in mind are waxing, spray tanning, hair and make-up trials, getting your roots done, your split ends trimmed, mani and pedi and even a nice massage the day before. Sound reasonable? This can end up adding on over $600 to your budget and if you treat your bridesmaids to any pampering, this could double depending on how many and what you do for them.

Side Note: I Love Essie's Colors...they have great nudes, neutrals and blushes for brides. 

2) Marriage License: 
This is something you do not want to forget and that you need before the ceremony. This will cost you anywhere from $20 to $100 depending on where you are getting married. Also, after the wedding, you will need copies to legally change your name and this is usually an additional fee.

3) Paper Products:
The invitations are not all you need to think about. You still need the programs for the ceremony, the escort cards for the reception, the menus for dinner and don't forget stationery for all those thank you cards. Even if you keep this category pretty basic you will still be adding at least an extra $400 depending on the size of your wedding and how detailed you want things to look. 

4) Postage: 
Don't blow your entire invitation budget on the actual invitation. Be sure to set aside enough money to send the invitation to your guest and for your guest to reply. Keep in mind, the heavier the invitation the higher the postage. If you are having a smaller wedding (less than 150) you can expect to pay at least $300 in postage...don't forget, thank you notes need stamps too. One of the 2014 wedding trend perks is that smaller invitations are in! 

Fun Fact: This was our wedding invitation. I love feathers and had them throughout our wedding decor and style. We bought these at Paper Source on Santana Row. See our wedding here.
5) Hotel Room:
You will need a place to get ready the day of your wedding. If you do not have a home that works then you will want to look into a hotel room or even a suite if you have a large wedding party. Something to keep in mind is most hotels have a 2-day minimum. A lot of wedding venues have a bridal suite provided the day of so be sure to ask while doing your site visits. If you do need to rent something, depending where you are getting married this will vary drastically but you should plan to spend at least $350 in this department.

6) Meals For Day Of:
Whether you are getting dolled up at home or in a suite you will need food and more than likely two meals worth (breakfast and lunch) and don't forget the champagne! This could add at least an extra $150 to your budget. If you are lucky the ladies in your life will treat you but it is better to be prepared.

7) Alterations, Undergarments and Accessories:
You got the dress...but I guarantee it is not going to be a perfect fit. Either add a line in your budget for alterations or don't spend your whole dress budget on the dress. Also, keep in mind you may want Spanx or something special to wear underneath or for the private "after party." Oh, and there are always the fabulous accessories to complete the look. I would plan for at least $600 in this never know what will come up.

8) Pre-Wedding Attire:
You are the bride! Which means all eyes (and cameras) are on you at all events leading up to the big day. You want to look fabulous for the engagement party, the bridal shower, the bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner, the getting ready outfit, and even the send off brunch. That is a lot of looks to budget for. This will be at least $300 and that is saying you wear a lot of what you already own and shop at Forever 21 (not hating, just saying.)

How cute is this for a rehearsal dinner or bachelorette party?

9) Transportation: 
You may have already considered your fantastic getaway car but have you thought about how you are getting the bridal party to the venue? What about the family? This could end up adding an extra $350 to the budget. 

10) Unexpected Guests:
Even though you cannot imagine your friends and family being inconsiderate on your wedding day there are those select few that will be! They will not rsvp but show up anyway and they may even bring a couple of their friends when they do. Do not be surprised if you end up having a larger dinner/drinks bill than expected. It me. I think I had 9 "wedding crashers" at my wedding. That was a little excessive...I don't think that is not the norm.

11) Welcome Bags:
If you have a lot of out of town guests you may want to consider leaving them a little something at the hotel. Some ideas are: a map of the area with local attractions and the couples favorite spots, favorite snacks in case they get the munchies after dancing all night at the wedding, a bottle of wine from a local winery or with a customized label, pre-party cocktails (think mini-bar size bottles and the bride and groom's favorite mixers), and lately there has been a trend of having room service sent to the guests rooms the morning after the wedding with a "thank you for traveling to celebrate with us" card. Depending how all-out you want to go and how many people you have staying in hotels you can spend anywhere from $100 to over $1K. 

12) Presents:
Now-a-days couples get each other a wedding present. I have seen the groom receive everything from cufflinks to TV's from his bride and the bride receive everything form Christian Louboutin's (her something new to wear) to simply paying for her bouquet and having it delivered with a sweet card. You will also want to consider getting your bridesmaids something to say "thank you" or "I am sorry I have been such a b#@c*". This can be expensive depending how much you want to spend on your main squeeze and your ladies so think about what you are willing to spend and add it to the budget. 

I love either of these great shoes for a bride...or me! My husband and I skipped the pricey gifts and exchanged sweet notes.

13) Vendor Meals:
Most caterers or venues offer a special vendor meal at a reasonable price for your photographers, DJ, band members, wedding coordinator and anyone else that is there for long hours that needs to eat. However, some of your vendors may require that they eat what you and your guest are eating. Read the contracts so you are aware of what their expectations are and so you can budget accordingly. This may add on at least 5 more guest to your final count.

14) Bride & Groom:
Don't forget yourself when giving the final count to your vendors as well as when figuring out the costs. You would be surprised how many people actually do this. 

15) Sound For the Ceremony:
This is important especially if you are getting married outside. You may want to consider having speakers and microphones so your guests can hear the ceremony. If you are using a DJ at the reception they most likely can provide this service as well. For this you should plan for an extra $250. 

16) Backup Plan:
If you do plan on having an outdoor wedding know your back-up plan and how much it will cost you if Plan B comes into play. Both tents and ballrooms at hotels can be an extra $5K if you need to have your ceremony protected at last minute. Ask your venue what their back up plan is and if it costs anything so you can add in cushion to your budget. 

17) Gratuity:
Don't forget that your vendors are in the hospitality industry and some expect tips. For instance, your driver. Also, the ++ sign on the catering menu means gratuity and tax will be added to your final bill. This is usually not hidden from you but you should know that if they say $75 per person they really mean somewhere around $95 per person.

18) Over Time Costs:
Once the party starts nobody will want to stop. Expect the DJ to go over, the bar to stay open and the photographer to stick around to capture it all. On top of this your other vendors will be standing around waiting for you to leave so they can break down, resulting in an additional invoice from your venue, florist and possibly your caterer. This can really add up so find out what everyone charges for overtime if anything. 

19) Table Decor:
Think beyond the flowers. You might want votive candles, specialty linens and maybe even unique tables or chairs. You may also want to rent chargers, flatware, and stemware. There is so much to consider and so much more that goes into the decor than the flowers so don't just have a flower budget. Add at least an extra $40 per table to your budget and find out what your venue/caterer provides as far as the flatware/stemware goes. 

20) Printing Pictures:
You will always have the memories but wouldn't it be nice to have some professional photographs as well? Make sure to not spend your whole photography budget so you can enjoy these images for a lifetime. I would add at least a $1K cushion to your photography budget for this. 

Well ladies, I hope this helped a lot and only scared you a little. Remember what the day is really about and just relax and have fun.



  1. Here are a few Weddings Planning ideas that will help you in the area of memorable wedding.
    1. Christmas sales are great places to pick items that can be incorporated into your decorating scheme.
    2. When looking for decorations start with the most important areas first.
    4. Consider the season when planning your decorations. This is especially important when choosing flowers as decorations.

    1. Thank you for the helpful tips, Anne. Brides need all the insider information as possible :-)