Money. It's probably the least fun part of planning a wedding but one of the most important details to figure out early on. While the big-ticket stuff is easy to consider—the venue, wedding dress, catering and alcohol, photography, entertainment, flowers, and décor—there are plenty of smaller, less obvious expenses that can really add up and impact your wedding budget in a big way.
1. Paper Goods
You may only account for your wedding invitations in your paper goods budget, but don't forget save-the-dates, seating charts, escort cards, programs, menus, signage, welcome letters, reception directions, favor tags, and the list goes on, notes Alex Taylor of Taylor'd Events Group.
2. Props and Favors
Skip any favors that can't be consumed, says Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards. And if you're thinking of having baskets full of blankets, flip-flops or sunglasses for guests, just realize that you don't need one for every single person. The same principle goes for the photo booth and kids' tables. Try not to overbuy props and toys. It's just not necessary.
Most couples make room in the budget for photography, but Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services knows from experience that videography is oftentimes a last-minute expense. What some might consider an unnecessary add-on at first eventually becomes a must after seeing a friend's wedding footage.
4. Postage and Shipping
Think of every single item that needs to make its way to your wedding site. Add to that every save-the-date and invitation that needs postage. The transit costs are not insignificant, and that's especially true for destination weddings. Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group says shipping and handling can be so expensive that you may want to consider DIY décor or bringing things with you in a suitcase.
5. Cake Cutting and Corkage Fees
Yes, you will probably be charged for having your cake cut if it's provided by someone other than the vendor. And you may also have to shell out for serving someone else's alcohol, says Stephanie Aspinwall of Pretty Entertaining.
6. Service Charges and Sales Tax
When you're told the meal cost per guest, it usually doesn't include the service charge or sales tax. In Aspinwall's Washington, D.C. region, that can add up to 22% service charge + 6% sales tax. She recommends always asking about extra fees up front.
7. Hair and Makeup Trials
They say nothing in life is free, and that goes for hair and makeup trials. Aspinwall says that some artists will deduct the trial fee from the total bill if the client books them, but others don't. Regardless, take into consideration how many trials you can actually afford.
8. Vendor Meals
Aspinwall also recommends reading each vendor's contract carefully to see if or how many meals are required. Some caterers charge less for vendor meals, just be sure to ask.
Tips are always optional but certainly expected for satisfactory service. It may or may not be part of the contract, so don't forget to account for all vendors at the end of the night, Aspinwall adds.
Pro Tip: Have a Contingency Plan
Recent bride Audrey Gilani of OFD Consulting says that squirreling away a few hundred dollars is a good idea as part of a contingency plan. And if you really want to give yourself wiggle room, then aim for 5% of the overall budget. This will come in handy for any last-minute additions, like sides for your tent if the forecast calls for rain.