Unexpected Wedding Costs
Figuring out your wedding budget is probably one of the least fun parts of the planning process but it plays a crucial role in all your decisions. You’ve probably thought about the bigger expenses – venue, food, dress – but there are additional charges involved that are usually overlooked and add up quickly. Here are some common hidden costs to add into your budget.
Hint: Use our handy Wedding Budget Spreadsheet to keep track of all your wedding expenses.
Don’t forget to include the cost of stamps for your save-the-dates, invites, and RSVP cards in your budget. When browsing different designs, keep size and weight in mind. Anything that’s not a standard letter size or weighs more than one ounce will cost you extra postage.
- Tip: If you fall head over heels for a square or irregular-shaped style, consider putting it in a standard sized envelope to save a little.
Wedding Day Stationery
Programs, escort cards, place cards, seating charts, menu cards, and wedding signs can add so much personality to your day and tons of really cute ideas have been popping up all over Pinterest. If this is something you want, try not to blow your whole stationery budget on your invites.
Calligraphy is oh-so-romantic but all that hand lettering can cost up to $3 per envelope. I think it’s worth the splurge if you can afford it, just plan for it from the beginning.
- Tip: Love the look but want it for less? Unless you’re super crafty + have a lot of time on your hands, I wouldn’t suggest trying to learn the art of calligraphy especially for your wedding, but you can cheat. Find your desired font and print your stationery using light gray ink. Then, darken it with a pen.
Just because your bridal boutique measures you, that doesn’t mean your wedding dress will be customized to fit. They usually take your bust, waist, and hips, compare your measurements with the designer’s size chart, and order the closest size. This means you’ll likely need alterations to get that picture perfect fit. If your dress has a train, invest in having a seamstress create a bustle, so you won’t have to worry about tripping or, worse, carrying your dress all night.
Many brides are shocked to find that veils can range anywhere from $25 for a simple birdcage veil to upwards of $200 for longer, more elaborate styles. Shoes, jewelry, your garter, and other accessories all add up.
- Tip: This is where you can cover your “something borrowed.” Your aunty would probably be honored to lend you her veil and it would add sentimental value instead of being another thing that you will only use once.
While wedding gowns are often constructed to offer more support than normal dresses, the right undergarments can really make a world of difference. Depending on the type of dress you choose, it may require undergarments that aren’t already in your wardrobe.
If you’re bringing your dress on the plane, odds are, it will get a little wrinkled in transit. Getting it steamed at a bridal shop or dry cleaner can cost $35 to $150, depending on the dress style, fabric, and amount of wrinkles.
- Tip: When you get to your destination, hang it up right away. Some of the wrinkles will fall out on their own. You can also hang it in the bathroom while you take a warm shower and let the bathroom steam loosen the creases. Make sure the dress is dry before you seal it in a garment bag. If you’ve got family or friends who live here, it might be worth checking to see if they have a hand steamer (not an iron) you can use. If you decide to steam your dress yourself, test the steamer on something else or on an inconspicuous area first.
Hair and makeup trials should help to alleviate worries about how you’ll look on wedding day and also allows you to see how everything holds up as time passes. Even though it’s a “trial,” expect to pay full price since it’s the same amount of work for your stylist.
- Tip: Schedule your trial on the same day as your boudoir or engagement pictures, or go out to a nice dinner and show off your gorgeous face!
Moms & Maids
Want to treat your mom, future MIL, and/or bridesmaids to wedding day beauty? Add it into your budget. Some hair and makeup artists will offer a little discount if you’re booking a larger party.
A rehearsal is not included in many wedding planning packages, so if this is something you want to do, ask your wedding planner about it upfront. A rehearsal dinner is traditionally paid for by the groom’s parents, though more couples are footing the bill for their entire wedding as well as the rehearsal dinner.
Hotel Room the Night Before
Having a nice place to spend your last night as a single lady and use to get ready is a worthwhile expense. Remember to book this in advance.
For Your Future Spouse
It’s really sweet when couples exchange thoughtful gifts (through their MOH and BM) before they see each other. It’s best to agree on this together or have someone mention it to your other half, so you’re both giving and receiving.
Bridal Party & Family Members
Your bridal party and closest family members have always been there for you and your wedding probably wouldn’t be the same without them. Show your appreciation with a little something and a handwritten note.
While certainly not expected, welcome bags add a nice touch and make out-of-town guests feel like VIPs.
If your wedding venue has limited parking or you’re concerned about drinking and driving, leave room in your budget for a shuttle service.
Maybe Uncle George forgot to RSVP or your friend from college brought someone with them even though they clearly weren’t given a plus one. These things happen often. Generally, caterers will prepare a little extra food, but you may want to rent a few extra chairs and dinnerware just in case.
You’re super organized and psyched to plan this whole wedding by yourself (with perhaps some input from your fiancé). Go ahead and set everything up ahead of time, but please set aside some funds for a day-of coordinator to handle everything behind the scenes for you that day. Unexpected things will come up and you can’t be in two places at once or truly enjoy yourself if you’re stuck directing.
With Hawaii’s gas prices consistently around the highest in the nation, many vendors, such as rental companies and hair and makeup artists, charge extra for their travel time and gas. The rates can vary for different areas of the island, so be aware of how much extra that may cost you.
It’s common for couples to get caught up in their wedding excitement and have their photographer and videographer, stay longer than originally planned. Decide on an allotted time frame with your vendors and try to stick to your timeline, but also ask about overtime rates.
You may not save as much as you thought by bringing in your own booze. Some venues charge anywhere from $1.50 to $3 per bottle as a “corkage fee.”
- Tip: Have your venue stock the bar for you to avoid the corkage fee.
Don’t assume that because you’re hosting an open bar, a bartender is automatically included. Mixology service can be at least $200.
Your vendors work really hard to bring your wedding vision to life, so it’s polite to offer them food. It’s a good time for them to take a short breather since there’s usually not a whole lot of action going on. Don’t worry, they will wait until all your guests have been served and won’t forget why they’re there.
You cut the first slice of cake, but who takes care of the rest? Similar to the corkage fee, many vendors charge an additional fee to cut and serve your wedding cake if it was not made by the venue’s baker.
While tips are never obligatory, it’s customary to show your gratitude to certain vendors, especially if they provided exemplary service.
- Tip: Read your contracts carefully because sometimes gratuities are already built into the final price. Organize your tips into labeled envelopes and give them to your planner in advance to hand out for you on wedding day.
Ok, so taxes aren’t really a surprise, but when you’re figuring out your wedding budget, you’ll want to make sure you’re considering how much taxes will increase the retail price.
Just because your venue offers valet parking, this doesn’t mean it’s included in your quote. Parking charges can be per car or by the hour.
The right lighting can transform a room’s atmosphere and set the mood throughout the event. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, lighting becomes even more essential. All your hours spent planning will be wasted if your guests can’t see.
Photo booths, slideshows, and hula dancers delight guests and help create a unique wedding experience that everyone will remember. If you want any special entertainment, factor it into your budget.
Hawaii is blessed with beautiful weather, but it does rain. If you’re having an outdoor wedding and the forecast doesn’t look too great, you’ll want to create a backup plan. This may involve renting a tent or reserving an indoor space.
With so much to do and remember, it’s normal to be affected by “wedding brain” and become forgetful. I’ve heard of couples who were rushing to get to the airport on time to find they had left their veil, shoes, or custom wedding cake topper at home and had to get a last-minute replacement once they reached Hawaii.
- Tip: Avoid forgetting any items at home by starting to write your packing list as early as two weeks before you leave and having at least one other person look it over to make sure everything is on the list. Then, give yourself plenty of time to pack and cross off your packing list.
Got all that? Take a deep breath. I know it seems like your wedding price tag keeps growing, but at least you can plan for it instead of being unpleasantly surprised down the road.