Long before vows are spoken and rings are exchanged comes the not-so-romantic task of creating a wedding budget with your soon-to-be spouse. With the average cost of a wedding totaling around $30,000, planning ahead is essential so you aren’t left drowning in debt long after the party is over. Although it's often easier to budget for bigger ticket items, like the venue or dress, seemingly smaller expenses do add up quickly. Oftentimes, it’s the lesser last-minute costs that can send your budget off the rails. Plan for these sneaky costs ahead of time for fewer surprises.
Currently, postage to mail a standard one-ounce envelope will cost you fifty-five cents. If you’re planning to mail out 100 save-the-dates, and later 100 invites, you’ll pay $110.00 on postage alone. Not to mention, the etiquette is to provide postage for the RSVP card return envelopes, which would bring the postage to $165.00. It could be more if the design of your invitation requires additional postage. If you’re comfortable steering away from tradition, consider generating a wedding website for RSVPs. This option could not only save you some money, but could also make it easier for your guests.
On your mission to purchase your dream dress, be prepared to cover additional charges to shorten the gown, adjust seams, add a bustle for a train, and more. Depending on the seamstress that you choose, you may be charged either a flat fee to make all the necessary alterations or pay for each separate request. Include alterations in your dress budget prior to purchasing your wedding dress. It’s also worthwhile to ask the seamstress if you qualify for discounted alterations. Some dress shops offer in-house alteration services while other shops may partner with other bridal businesses. You’ll also want to do your best to avoid delaying your fitting appointments, because last-minute alterations may incur rush fees so that your dress is ready on time.
If gratuity is not already included in your vendor contracts, you should plan on tipping the professionals who are offering their services for your special day. In most cases you should expect to tip the caterers, band or DJ, chauffeurs, hairstylists, makeup artists, and delivery and setup staff. Though optional, tipping your wedding planner, ceremony officiant, reception attendants, and photographer or videographer may be a suitable gesture if you received a generous discount, or felt they went above and beyond their contracted services.
Vendors who are participating in your festivities, including your photographer and DJ, need a hot meal, too. Don’t forget to include them in your final headcount for the caterer. Not only is it polite to offer them a meal, it will help keep them fueled so that the quality of their work is up to par for your entire event.
The wedding industry is notorious for up charging for extras. While your venue may include the tables, chairs, and linens, you may be charged more if you decide to upgrade from its standard options. Some venues or entertainment professionals may even charge you for extending the timeframe of your event. Convenience also comes with a price. Depending on your guest count, you will likely rack up added fees for onsite deliveries, cake cutting, or additional staffing. Always ask about additional charges upfront so that you won’t be caught off guard when the bill arrives.
While money-related conversations aren't as glamorous as wedding day details, they're important to have ahead of time. When talking with your significant other about what is realistic to spend and how you will coordinate its costs, here are some discussion points that are worthwhile to cover. Get the conversation started by answering the following questions together:
- What is a realistic budget that we are both comfortable with?
- Will others be contributing financially to the celebration?
- What elements are most important to us?
- Where are we willing to settle for more affordable options?