The Hidden Costs of Weddings - Revealed!

Image via  Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

This blog was written by our friends Brady & Hannah over at Financially Engaged, and trust me, they’re the experts on wedding finances!

Hidden Wedding Costs - Revealed!

Everyone knows that weddings are expensive. With so many different vendors and details to consider, it can be easy to lose sight of all of the hidden costs. As you book each vendor, you may think you’re spending within budget, only to realize there are many expenses and overruns that you never planned for.

With many young couples trapped under the weight of student and auto debt, we’ve been seeing a new industry pop up: wedding loans. According to a recent report in the Washington Post, online lenders are issuing up to four times as many loans for weddings as they did a year ago. 

This is a staggering statistic and very concerning. In today’s Instagram age, it’s very easy to get caught up in the details of wedding planning and feel the need to spend, spend, spend. You begin to obsess over having that eight-piece band, the drone videography, and the sparkler send-off.  

But no couple wants to start off an amazing marriage bogged down in a pile of new, wedding debt. And to be clear, we never recommend taking out a loan to pay for a wedding. When you look back on your wedding day, you won’t remember all of the expensive details, but rather, the special day with the love of your life.  

How do you avoid overspending? One way is to plan ahead for those “hidden” costs upfront.

We’re Hannah and Brady, CPAs, newlyweds, and founders of Financially Engaged. We got engaged in 2017, married in 2018, and we want to give you the inside scoop on our top five hidden wedding costs you might not have planned for yet! 

Hidden Wedding Cost #1: Wedding Dress Alterations

Most wedding dress shops do not include the price of dress alterations in the cost of the dress. I was the first in my family to get married, and when I fell in love with a dress that had a long, beautiful train, I had no idea that creating a bustle for the train would be costly. Simple hems can cost less than $100, but it can escalate to hundreds of dollars depending on how much work needs to be done to the dress.

Married Tip: Keep alterations in mind when dress shopping and try to get a dollar estimate on dress alterations prior to purchasing your dress. This same tip applies to suit alterations for the groom-to-be!

Hidden Wedding Cost #2: Stamps

You often do not see the price of shipping when you’re purchasing your save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP envelopes, and thank you cards for showers, bachelorette parties and of course, the wedding.

The current rate for standard size, rectangular envelopes starts at $.55. However, for square, oversized, or unusual shaped envelopes, the rate starts at $.70 and goes up from there based on weight.

Married Tip: Skip the fancy invitations and utilize awesome sites like Zola, which allow guests to RSVP online, so you don’t have to send pre-stamped RSVP envelopes to all of your guests. Not only does it save you money, but it also makes it easier to track!

Hidden Wedding Cost #3: Taxes and Gratuities

Vendors typically don’t include gratuity in their prices up front, yet it is standard to give gratuities on some services. As with anything, the amount of gratuity will vary based on the price of the services and your satisfaction with the services.

When it comes to taxes, well, they’re easily ignored! However, they can add up quickly and they vary by state and city/town. You may be looking at a downtown venue, only to find out they have sales tax, entertainment tax, and an additional venue tax.

Married Tip: To avoid surprises with gratuities and taxes, lay out all of your expenses by category and identify where gratuities and taxes need to be factored in. Hint: We have a tool to organize wedding costs linked at the bottom of this blog post! 

Hidden Wedding Cost #4: Vendor Trials

Most brides want to test out their hair and makeup prior to the big day, but that usually comes at an extra charge! If you also want trial runs on flower bouquets and the dinner/dessert, you may run into additional costs.

Married Tip: Make sure to ask in advance for the price of trial runs. These are almost always negotiable. If trial runs are too expensive, Pinterest can be your best friend! The more photos and detail that you can provide to your vendors in advance of your Big Day, the better! 

Hidden Wedding Cost #5: Service Fees

Service fees are what venues charge to cover some of their internal costs on the day of, such as doormen, servers, and coat checkers. Venues know that young couples have a lot going on and most are not shy about layering on additional fees. 

These fees can also be charged to you for bringing in outside items such as wine and cake. Corking fees can range from $5-$20 per bottle and cake cutting fees can range from $1-$6 dollars per guest. 

Married Tip: Ask your venue about any service fees before booking your venue to ensure you are comfortable with the prices. 

Bonus! Hidden Wedding Cost #6: Venue and Wedding Size

Your wedding venue and wedding size typically drive all other expenses. Many venues have food and beverage minimums that can be well above your budget. 

It is also common for wedding venues to put restrictions on other vendors you can use. For example, they may only allow you to choose between three preferred caterers or two florists. If these preferred vendors are not within your price range, it could easily put you over budget.

Many people realize that the number of guests you have dictates the size of your venue. However, most other items get compounded with the size of the guest list. For example, as the guest list goes up:

  • your catering and alcohol bill swells,

  • the amount you spend on centerpieces and other decor increases, and

  • the number of shuttle trips or size of shuttle buses for guests expands. 

As you can see, the list can go on and on. 

Married Tip: The wedding venue and related vendors are typically the most expensive portions of your day, so it is critical to read the entire wedding venue contract in detail before signing.

We hope you now feel armed with the information to be prepared for hidden wedding costs! To track all of your wedding expenses and wedding vendors, you can download our free Wedding Financial Plan and Wedding Vendor Tracker to get started!


Which hidden wedding cost is most surprising to you? How do you plan to manage your wedding expenses? Comment below and let us know!

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Tory KalousekComment