Sticking to a budget isn’t the most glamorous part of wedding planning. And it can certainly be tricky. But it’s a building block of the process. And one that deserves to be understood.
This is why, as a wedding planner, I love helping couples deep dive into all things budget-related. Because if you don’t have the budget down (the foundation, really), it’s going to be hard to get the wedding you envision.
But even after you know the fundamentals, there’s still more when it comes to dealing with the dollars and cents of your wedding budget.
For one—hidden costs.
In an effort to keep pesky surprises by the wayside, I’m shedding some light on the hidden fees you might come across while wedding planning. These are those fine print items and things you might not think about when creating your budget.
Common Hidden Costs to Keep in Mind
Do you want/need transportation for your guests/wedding party (ex. large shuttles)? If so, you need to consider things like whether the transport company has a time minimum or location maximum. Most companies have a non-negotiable three to four-hour minimum and often charge additional fees if they work outside a certain radius.
You also need to think about parking/valet fees and accessibility. Venues usually indicate their amounts on the contract. Still, it’s always a good idea to estimate how many vehicles you anticipate will be on the property before committing to a charge.
Also, don’t rule out the possibility that you may need to find transportation for intoxicated friends. Even if you’re not responsible for how your guests are getting to and from your event, you might need to provide a reliable mode of transport for a loved one.
Engagement photos, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, welcome parties, farewell brunches…
Weddings are big events consisting of a lot of little events. And all those smaller events have their own budget needs.
Before you get overwhelmed, ask yourself what you envision. Multiple events for your wedding weekend or a single-day celebration? For a multi-day wedding, will you only invite certain people to the welcome party/farewell brunch/etc? Or are these open to everyone?
As for all your pre-wedding activities, figure out which ones are important to you, and then think about your priorities within each of those. For example, if having a bridal shower is essential, what are your must-haves (flowers, cake, etc.)? What are three non-essentials (stationery, signage, etc.)?
These things should get you thinking about where costs can add up and help guide you through the planning process.
Gifts and Welcome Bags
Maybe you’ve already planned on giving gifts to the bridesmaids and groomsmen, but what about gifts for other loved ones, like your parents and grandparents? Whether it’s a parent’s wedding album or a customized trinket you give to a sibling, including these costs in your wedding budget beforehand will cut down on any surprises later.
Welcome bags, while not required, are a nice way to welcome out-of-town guests. If you’re curating bags as gifts, make sure you budget for all of the elements (everything that will go inside), as well as delivery fees. For instance, if your guests are staying in a hotel room block, the hotel may require a fee to deliver the bags to guests’ rooms before they arrive.
Tips aren’t required, but they are certainly appreciated. Especially when your vendors work hard and you love the work they do.
It’s a good rule of thumb to set aside 10-20% of your budget for gratuities for service vendors like bartenders, delivery teams, valets, coat check attendants, officiants, makeup and hair stylists, and drivers.
Double-check with your vendors to ensure that a gratuity hasn’t already been included on the invoice. And keep in mind that service fees for catering companies and venues don’t always mean tips for the staff working your event.
To help you stay organized, you can collect your cash a week before the wedding and separate the vendor tips into labeled envelopes. You can then give these to a trusted family member, friend, or wedding planner to give to each vendor on the wedding day.
Helping You Sort Out the Numbers
I know all of this can seem overwhelming, and crunching numbers is never terribly exciting, but working out your budget really is one of the most important things you can do during the early stages of your wedding planning.
I’m always here to help. And not only can I help you avoid all of these common hidden costs, but I can also help you make adjustments so that you can stick to your budget and still get the beautiful wedding you’re envisioning.