Prepping for hidden expenses

No matter how detailed of a wedding budget you craft, and how stringently you try to stick to it, unforeseen expenses are unavoidable.

Solidifying your spending goals for your biggest expenses — venue, photographer, florist, honeymoon — is important, but it’s also helpful to budget some for a “miscellaneous” category. With all the decisions that have to be made upfront, it was hard for my fiancée and I to see at the onset what could fall under that list but, once we got into the nitty gritty of the planning details, we quickly encountered a wealth of smaller expenses that added up.

Budgeting extra at the beginning of your planning process to cover unexpected costs is one way to get out ahead of any problem-producing hidden expenses, as is thinking outside the box to learn about areas where you may have to shell out some extra cash.


Just about everything has an added fee, which is why it’s important to allot a bit extra above the base prices for your big vendors.

If your ceremony and reception are taking place at the same location, your venue will likely charge a ceremony fee, which can range anywhere from $100-$1,000. When crafting the food and drink menu for your reception, be prepared for added costs if you want to add another food option above the standard, similar with drinks. Speaking of catering, packages will likely be upped for each server or bartender you add or, alternately, many venues charge added fees if you bring in your own alcohol. Fees may be charged if you have a coat check at the event, as well as valet service.

Looking good may come with its own costs. Wedding dresses are often exorbitant to begin with, but each alteration — adding or removing fabric, fitting to your height and weight — comes with its own price. For ladies having hair or makeup done by a professional salon, many charge added fees for hair and makeup trials, some up to $200, on top of the same or higher price for services for the day of. (But, others specifically try to entice brides with free trials.) Gents (or ladies) renting a tux may face added fees if they deviate from the standard rental package, such as altering the tie or shoe style.

Added costs can be incurred with other elements, like wedding rings or even stationery; the more personalized you want your product, the more the fees may add up.

That’s not to say a couple can’t have their wedding-day details to their liking; instead, it’s important to read the fine print and be prepared that the first round of vendor quotes may grow higher — and that’s where negotiation, research, prioritizing and saving all come in.

Gifts and tips

A wedding is often the result of teamwork among the couple, family, friends and vendors. As such, it’s customary for the couple to express their thanks for help with wedding planning.

Some couples gift to loved ones who monetarily helped out with the wedding, while others may offer gifts to all immediate family members regardless of financial contributions. Etsy and personalized-craft websites are treasure troves of sentimental gifts for parents or other loved ones from the soon-to-be-married couple.

If a couple has a wedding party, gifts are also customary for all members, who may have had to put money out for dress purchases, tux rentals, a shower, bachelor or bachelorette parties, a hotel rental, etc. There seems to be vast disagreement among wedding-etiquette advocates about whether the couple’s gifts are expected to be comparable to the amount the wedding-party members spent on the wedding; some advise trying to spend about the same the wedding party members spent, while others suggest the monetary amount is not as important as the thought behind the gift. My fiancée and I are fusing practicality with sentimentality for wedding-party gifts, with a few small items they can use the day of the wedding and a few that pertain to our individual relationships.

Apart from gifts, it’s also expected that the couple tips some vendors: wedding officiant, transportation drivers, hair and makeup stylists and staffers working a reception (although this may already be included in the venue contract). Some couples also tip vendors like the photographer, florist and DJ; or, if you work more closely with these vendors, there’s also the option of giving personalized gifts instead of a monetary tip.

Miscellaneous of the miscellaneous

Within the miscellaneous-spending category, there are a number of random expenses that may come up: accessories like jewelry and shoes, necessities like the marriage license, as well as reception items like the guestbook, cardbox and the basket of toiletries the couple typically provides for the women’s restroom.

Another added-on expense we didn’t initially count on is the shipping cost for all online purchases; with many couples now buying stationery, gifts, decorations and other items online, the shipping can add up. But, with the holidays now upon us, many sites are offering free or discounted shipping, and throughout the year many run specials that couples can keep an eye out for.

Extra costs are unavoidable, but careful planning and creative thinking can help defray some of the stress of unforeseen spending.