Seven Surprising Hidden Wedding Costs

These Hidden Wedding Cost Could Destroy Your Budget

By Chantelle Kadala

You are finally engaged and ready to officially enter wedding planning mode. Sure you’ve been un-officially planning for a while, but now when you break out your two inch binder and three page budget spreadsheet, no one gets to call you crazy. Not so obvious, dare we say “secret” wedding cost could put you way over budget despite your best planning. surveyed 75,000 brides and the results showed the average cost of a wedding in 2013 was over $28,000. According to The Wedding Report the average number of wedding guest in 2012 was 143 so we will look at the cost assuming 150 guest and a handful of forgotten costs.

7 Hidden Wedding Costs that Need to be on Your Mind and Your Budget

Postage. Stamps to send out invitations should have come to mind when you were pricing invitations. But did you remember that you also need to pre-stamp the return envelopes for the response cards. That is almost $75 in extra postage. If you wanted a special sized invitation, also factor in the additional postage charged outside of the postal services standard sized envelope.

Framing. You priced and took your pre-wedding/engagement photos. But did you add the cost to custom matte and frame this beautiful piece of art to display at the wedding and reception and keep forever? Take another $200 or more out of your pocket.

Service Charges. With the venue and catering there seems to always be another cost popping up no matter how detailed your questions were with the providers. Be sure to check the fine print and verify the numbers because a 20% service charge or gratuity over the advertised, let’s say, $55 per head at your reception for dinner is no small matter. Your 150 guest are eating steak and you are eating a $1,650 service charge that may have not been clearly explained at the time of reservation.

Cake Cutting. You’ve probably heard of this one but a lot of people assume that if you are paying thousands of dollars for them to serve dinner that it includes them serving the cake you bought somewhere else. Check the pricing for your venue because if you are not using their on-site pastry chef/baker then you may be paying anywhere from $3 to $7 per piece of cake, much like a corkage fee for wine. Even at $4 a piece, that is a nasty $600 surprise.

Valet. You wouldn’t want you guest looking for ways to break their twenties when they leave your beautiful venue would you? That’s a horrible last impression of your wedding or reception. So you are going to pay for that too, right? Well your intimate wedding of 150 will need probably eight or so valet attendants at a lowball $25 per hour for six hours or so and you’ve added another at $1,200 at least for on-site parking. Double it if parking is off-site at your non-banquet venue.

Open Bar. Guest tend to expect an open bar at receptions. Even if you decide to provide just wine and beer, allowing guest to pay for their own hard liquor or mixed drinks to save money, you should look into your states liability laws in regards to the host’s liability if someone is in a fight or accident following getting over intoxicated at your event. Additional cost outside of your per person rate could include a bar set up fee from the caterer ($30 to $200), an hourly fee for the bartender ($100 for a four hour reception), a gratuity of 10-20% of the total alcohol bill to the head bartender, and corking fees per wine bottle or six-pack if you provide your own alcohol.

Last Minute Guest. You did your head count a dozen times and you know every single person who will be at your wedding. Except some people just aren’t as knowledgeable on wedding etiquette as you and assume that if they are invited that you have a seat, dinner and drinks for them and their date and RSVP-ing is optional. You did invite them, right? Unless you have a bouncer in the family that is comfortable turning people away you will end up paying for them in the end.


Take these hidden cost into consideration when planning your wedding and reception and you will be able to enjoy your special day with the peace of mind that you have everything covered.