12 Surprise Wedding Costs + Fees and How to Avoid Them
Don’t get surprised by these unexpected wedding costs and fees. Learn what the common oversights are and how you can avoid letting them bust your wedding budget!
When you are planning your wedding, the best thing to do first is to set your wedding budget. This way, you will know how much you and your partner (and anyone else who might be contributing) plan to spend and how you would like to allocate your funds. When creating your budget, the key thing to note is there are other costs involved in hosting a wedding that might not immediately come to mind. Below, we’re detailing 12 wedding costs that sometimes feel “hidden” so you know to look for them within contracts and make sure to plan ahead so you’re not met with any surprise fees.
Want to know the average cost of a wedding in your area? Check this out.
If you’re hosting your wedding at your home, at a park, or on a beach, you will want to apply for a permit with the town or township where the event will occur. The cost to obtain a permit is typically as low as $50, but the cost can increase to $250+ depending on your area and where you would like to host your wedding.
Because we’re certain the thought has crossed your mind, no, it’s not in your best interest to not apply for a permit! 😉 The relatively low cost of a permit is worth the peace of mind that comes with being able to say you’re able to legally host your guests in your chosen location without fear that authorities may ask you to cease celebrating.
The cost of wedding insurance varies depending on your state and how many guests you will be hosting at your event. Generally speaking, policies typically cost under $100 and increase from there. Without a doubt, the cost is worth it!
Most wedding insurance policies include General Liability Insurance, which is the core component venues may ask you to present proof of having on hand. This protects your venue from lawsuits should any of your guests get injured (highly unlikely, but it happens), and any property damage your venue may incur as a result of your celebration (again, highly unlikely but this also happens). Sometimes policies also include wedding cancellation policies that help to protect the investment you have made into your wedding, but most policies do not offer coverage for pandemics (i.e. coronavirus).
Make sure to read your policy carefully prior to purchasing. If you’re looking for a resource for wedding insurance, Event Helper is a great option.
When you’re reviewing the packages your wedding professionals present, particularly those from photographers and videographers, pay careful attention to the amount of time each will be on hand at your wedding. Many professionals offer packages that vary in cost and time, and adding additional time to a package almost always increases the cost.
The best thing to do is to talk to your professionals about the timeline of your wedding day (i.e.: your ceremony and reception start and end times) in order to receive guidance on the best option. When in doubt, choose the package that offers more time from the beginning rather than realizing you need to add time to a package on your wedding day. The latter usually happens at a higher cost than you would have paid originally.
When working with bands, DJs, and production companies (those who offer things like lighting, power, and sometimes sound), you will want to review what is offered through the options you are considering. Typically, the starting cost for a band, for example, includes a minimum number of players. Each time an additional instrument is added, the cost increases because you’re adding additional equipment and people who will play. The same is true for DJs and production companies – there’s a base package and then there are add-ons. Make sure you’re on the same page regarding what you are receiving!
If your wedding is occurring outside of a wedding professional’s general area, they may charge you travel fees. Many professionals are upfront about these costs, and they most often include things like mileage, hotel accommodations, and food. Some list the fee as a separate line item, while others will wrap the fee into your total cost. Either is fine, but it does impact your cost. The best thing to do is to ask your wedding professionals if you will be charged for travel fees before you sign your contract.
Delivery, Setup, and Breakdown Fees:
When working with florists and rental companies, many will charge delivery, setup, and breakdown fees. These costs cover them for the time each will spend setting and cleaning up on your wedding day. More importantly, these fees typically cover the cost of the team the wedding professional will have on hand to help them. The cost of these fees range, but they are most often listed as a separate line item on your proposal. Make sure to review and look out for them so you know how much you’re paying.
Taxes and Service Charges:
If you are working with a professional who is offering a tangible service, like photography, flowers, catering, and venue, you will likely be charged taxes, service fees, or both. These are all normal fees and many are based on percentages determined by your state, but make sure to look out for them on proposals and contracts. Sometimes they cannot be calculated until your final balance is known, so you will likely pay for them just before your wedding day. Ask to be kept in the know so the amounts are not a surprise, but make sure to allocate funds either way.
Postage for Invitations:
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but many couples forget to factor in the cost of postage for their wedding invitations into their overall stationery budget. Whether you order your save the dates and invitations online, design them yourself, or work with a stationer, that’s only part of the cost! Once you have your wedding stationery on hand, you will need to mail your pieces to your guests. Don’t forget about the cost of postage!
As a general note, it typically costs more to mail wedding stationery because it weighs more and it’s also a different shape than traditional mail. Make sure to keep this in mind when budgeting, and weigh at least one piece of each type of stationery you plan to mail before you add postage. You will want to know the exact (and correct!) cost.
Breakfast, Lunch, and a Cooler:
Your wedding day includes plenty of fun events, but it’s also a long day. Make sure to plan ahead, especially for breakfast and lunch, so you’re not counting down until dinner at your reception. Consider room service if you’re getting ready at a hotel, or plan to have a local restaurant deliver. If you’re taking a bus, trolley, or limo from your getting ready location to your ceremony and then to your reception, you will want to know if you’re allowed to provide a cooler of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic!).
Throughout the time you spend working with your venue or catering company (in the event you’re working with different teams!), make sure to ask about their cake cutting fee. Sometimes there is one, and if it is going to be charged, it is oftentimes $1-$2 per person or per slice cut. This is one wedding cost that can add up and often takes couples by surprise!
If you are providing your own alcohol at your wedding, be prepared to pay a corkage fee. The fee is, essentially, the cost for your catering or bartending team to open each bottle of alcohol they will serve. It’s most often a fee added to pour wine and champagne, and the cost typically begins at $10 and rises from there. Not every company will charge a corkage fee, so this is another detail you will want to inquire about in advance.
Let us preface with this: tipping your wedding professionals is not mandatory. It’s much appreciated, but it’s definitely not required! If you feel your team is going above and beyond, then you may want to offer an extra amount. We go into great detail about how much to tip each wedding professional on your team in this post, so make sure to check it out! Generally speaking, however, plan to tip those who do not own their own businesses (associate photographers, servers, banquet captains, venue managers, and the like).
Have you encountered a surprise fee or cost associated with your wedding that we haven’t mentioned?
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Check out our Wedding Budget Tips for tons of ideas for how you could save money on your wedding!