Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and definitely, the one that you’ll plan the most. From engagement to “I Do,” couples typically take 18 months to two years to plan a wedding. With many top venues booked out at least a year in advance, couples do have a longer time to plan, budget, and pay for their big day, but as the date gets closer there are some costs that come up that may not have been in the original budget.
Three Costs To Be Aware Of When Planning Your Budget
Wedding Party Gifts
Your wedding party is your support posse for your big day and the planning leading up to it. It is best to thank your wedding party and sometimes they can be left out in the budgeting process creating a cost to filter in as the planning progresses.
The Maid-of-Honor, Best Man, groomsmen, bridesmaids, ushers, guest book attendant, flower girl, and ring bearer (if you’re counting, that’s at least eight if you have the full complement) people you’d need to thank with a gift of sorts. For these loved folks, a personalized gift is popular, rather than cash or a gift card. Groomsmen gifts typically are things like engraved flasks or Zippos. Bridesmaid gifts can vary from spa days, silver picture frames, and sometimes accessories that complement their dress (and can be worn again).
If you’re tight on cash and need to cut down on costs, a personalized mirror, custom travel mug, or water bottle (bonus if you fill it with gourmet candies), or a date to get manicures together after the honeymoon can all come in under $20.
Every wedding seems to have its own “white whale” – that item or decoration that the bride has in her mind that she wants or a piece of her attire she needs. It could be shoes, or maybe the perfect centerpiece for the sweetheart table, the cake topper, or a ring bearer pillow. As you get closer to the big day, small things like the right amount of colored marbles for the centerpieces, extra candles, or, well, shoes, are going to add up. Many wedding planners suggest putting aside an extra 10% on top of your budget to cover incidental costs that are likely to arise.
You can save money on these add-ons by talking to your wedding planner, or one of your bridesmaids to see what you can get at a cheaper price. Look at places like $1 stores for table flair, nicer consignment stores for things like bridal shoes or your clutch, and consider looking online for items like ring bearer pillows, aisle runners, and things that you’ll use once, but may not be sentimental to warrant buying brand new.
Lookout For Hidden Fees
Many wedding venues, caterers, DJs, and other professionals will have all the costs, fees, gratuities, etc in the contract that you sign. For instance, your $20 per head dinner is actually $20+tax+gratuity. Depending on your location and the area “going rate”, this can mean that $20 per person is closer to $30.
Another cost to be aware of is when you’ve contracted a certain number of shots from the photographer, but family members ask for specific photos or groups of people to be photographed. Suddenly, you’ve hit your 500 picture max, but haven’t cut the cake yet. Maybe transportation from the ceremony to the reception took longer, so the hosted bar stayed open for another 30 minutes. These things add up, and your vendors deserve to be paid for the goods and services provided.
A way to save on hidden fees is to ask your vendor about unexpected charges that can come up later. Vendors are very experienced at professionally “just saying no” to guests or even family that ask for certain things. Have two “authorized users” that you trust can make decisions to add on extra meals, bar time, gratuities, or impulse buys. Make your wedding venue, wedding planner, DJ, photographer – anyone that you’ve spent money to have there – aware that if they need to add to your bill, to ask the specified people only. Your wedding will be very busy, and you don’t need to be distracted to approve meals for the band, or extra table wine for the dinner.
Your wedding day should be about joy, happiness, and starting a new life with the person you love. Planning beforehand, and putting a little cash in reserve, will help you from feeling “nickel-and-dimed” on your day of celebration.