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Hidden Wedding Costs You Need to Know About

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Creating a budget for your wedding is one of the most important steps in the wedding planning process. There are so many moving pieces and you don’t want to be surprised by a lot of little extra charges — or worse a couple of big ones. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen to you with our comprehensive guide to hidden wedding costs you might have overlooked. Keep in mind that budgeting is about knowing what you have to spend and putting the greatest amount of resources into what is most important. 

This guide will help you keep your budget on track by planning for those hidden wedding costs — so the only surprising thing on your wedding day will be how well your great aunt can dance. 

Photo: Wild Garden Photography

ALTERATIONS

Whether it’s a wedding dress, tuxedo, groomsmen suits, etc., alterations can be expensive depending on the type of work and you will want to budget accordingly. They can range in cost from $100-$500. For example, are you using a vintage dress or reworking an entire part of the gown? Alterations that require more heavy lifting like fixing beading or moving zippers and such will add to your cost. 

CAKE CUTTING FEES 

If you don’t use a venue’s in-house chef or an approved cake company, they often require a cutting fee that is typically around $1-$2 per guest. It can go as high as $7 in rare cases. Be sure to talk with your wedding planner, caterer and/or venue manager to nail down those details. 

CLEANING FEES 

Cleaning fees are often added to the total of your venue contract. Keep that in mind when you are planning to select your venue. Be sure to ask if the quoted venue rental cost includes cleaning, damage deposit, and any other additional costs. Your wedding planner or the venue manager will be able to help you with this. 

If you are planning a wedding at a non-traditional venue space, you may be responsible for clean-up and this might look like hiring or arranging for someone to clean up after the event. 

CORKAGE FEE

Some couples bring their own wine or champagne to save money or because their venue doesn’t serve their preferred vintage. When you do this, venues charge a corkage fee which can range typically between $10-$40 per bottle. 

DAY-OF MEALS 

Depending on when your wedding is, you will likely need one to two meals on the day of your wedding for yourself and your wedding party. Whether that is something you take care of or not, you want to plan ahead. This is a common hidden wedding cost that gets forgotten and sends people scrambling. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. The aim is to eliminate little costs from adding up into a big hit on the budget. 

DAY-OF SIGNAGE & PAPER NEEDS

When budgeting for your wedding paper (think invitations, etc.), you want to be sure and keep the actual wedding day in mind. In addition to the place cards, escort cards, and programs, you need to plan for any signage costs. These may include signs for your signature cocktails or instructions for the sign-in table. Run through this with your wedding planner or planning partner to consider what the day-of signage and paper needs will be. 

FITNESS + WELLNESS PROGRAMS 

Will you be doing any fitness or wellness programs — or perhaps a more aggressive beauty regimen with facials to prep your skin for the big day? If so, these are costs that you will want to prepare for as this can range from hundreds to potentially thousands of dollars. 

GUEST TRANSPORT 

Some couples consider having a designated driver/transportation option to help safely transport guests home. This isn’t a must, but if this is something you would like to do, it’s great to plan ahead for your budgetary needs. 

HAIR + MAKEUP TRIALS 

Wedding beauty trials — including hair and/or makeup can cost anywhere from $50-$150. Most are under $100 depending on the type of service or services you are looking for. If you end up wanting to get trials with multiple stylists, this can add up. 

HOTEL ROOM FOR THE NIGHT BEFORE 

Do you plan on staying at a hotel the night before your wedding? Many people do because of logistics or comfort. It can be a more peaceful way to start the day. This should be added to the budget if it is needed. 

INSURANCE 

Not everyone will have this cost, but for couples who prefer to have wedding insurance, that needs to be added to your wedding budget. On average this can be around $100 – $500. 

LIGHTING 

While most venues will come with standard lighting if you want custom uplighting or Gobo lights (think customized wedding initials projected at your reception), that will likely be an additional cost. The hidden wedding cost here might be if you pick a unique venue that needs to be heavily lit — such as an outdoor reception at night or someplace that isn’t a traditional venue. This can range between $200-$2500 depending on your lighting needs. 

MARRIAGE LICENSE 

All this planning is about getting married, so it’s amazing, but true that some people overlook the marriage license cost. It can range between $10-$115 depending on where you’re getting married. It’s not a huge additional cost, but if enough small items add up that makes a big impact on your overall expense. 

Find out how to get your marriage license in Texas with our comprehensive guide here.

NON-VENUE APPROVED VENDORS

Your average wedding venue usually comes with a list of preferred vendors. If you choose not to go with venue-approved vendors, there is a fee for picking off the list. So, while you may think you’re saving money to bring in your own flowers or food, depending on the fee, you might just be breaking even — or even spending more. If your choice is motivated by the budget, be sure the fee doesn’t affect that. The fees can be as much as 20 percent. 

OVERTIME

Each of your vendors has a contract for their time. If your event runs late or long, etc., they often have an hourly rate that will be added. Be sure you are aware of which vendors have this and what the cost will be total. 

PERMITS 

Are you using a park or doing something that needs permission from the local government? If so, you may need to budget for permits and usage fees. 

POSTAGE  

Non-traditional shapes, heavier paper, more pieces, etc. These are all reasons to keep an eye on your postage budget. This isn’t included in the invitation suite total. And the postage itself can range greatly depending on what all you’re sending and how you’re sending it. Things like return cards (or RSVPs) are also something to consider. Also, it is considered proper etiquette for couples to send a stamp on that card, so it’s not just the mailing cost, but the return mail cost to consider. 

RENTAL LATE FEES 

This one doesn’t have to be a hidden cost, but it can be a surprise if you don’t have a plan for the timely return of all rental pieces. If you have rented your own table or chairs, and even the venue can come with late fees if they are not returned or left promptly. 

SETUP & TEAR DOWN FEES 

From florals to decor and other rentals, your vendors may require a setup and delivery fee. This will depend on the type of contract you have with them. Couples without a wedding planner need to be especially careful of this type of fee. Oftentimes people take this for granted as being part of the general contract. 

SOUND EQUIPMENT 

Whether or not your venue comes with sound equipment may affect the cost of your DJ or band. Many traditional wedding venues come well equipped, but it’s important not to assume this and discuss your needs/preferences with your planner, DJ/band, and the venue manager. 

TASTING FEES 

This can range from picking wines, selecting signature cocktails, deciding on your cake, and/or menu items. Ask your caterer, baker, and/or venue manager about tasting fees as you plan your wedding. In some cases, tastings can be free, but it’s best not to assume anything. 

TAXES, TIPS & GRATUITY 

Taxes can vary by state and they are often overlooked when it comes to the overall total. Tips and other gratuities for everything from catering to valet and entertainment — it all adds up. While it may not be fully a hidden wedding cost, it’s important to review all the tips that may be part of your wedding cost. 

We have a helpful resource on all the wedding tipping etiquette for you right here.

TRANSPORTING RENTAL EQUIPMENT 

Just because you rented it doesn’t mean the transportation is covered. Especially if you do not have a full wedding planner helping with all these details, you will want to check and double-check what the full rental costs will be — including transportation as well as pickup. This cost can range from $100-$350. 

UNEXPECTED GUESTS 

It’s not uncommon for unexpected guests to be added at the last minute (think great aunt who decided to travel after all), so be sure to work with your wedding planner to add into the budget an amount for emergencies. This may come in the form of extra chair rentals, extra meals, extra cake, etc. In many cases, this is planned for with each vendor, but don’t assume it is. 

UNEXPECTED RENTALS 

When budgeting for your wedding cost, don’t overlook all the potential rental needs. For example, if your reception venue doesn’t provide wedding decor such as linens, flatware, tables, chairs, and more in your contract, you will need to plan for that cost. In addition to that cost, take into consideration the rental delivery cost as well which can run anywhere from $50-$500 depending on the size of your wedding and rental items. 

VENDOR MEALS 

Don’t forget to add any vendors working during the wedding to your headcount for catering. There are often vendor meal options to choose from that are less expensive. 

WEDDING ATTIRE & ACCESSORIES 

Shoes, jewelry, undergarments for specific dress silhouettes, and more. The wedding dress or suit isn’t the only cost for wedding attire. Think through every piece you will need/want on that day and build that into your wedding budget. You may find that you don’t have to plan for a lot, but we’re here to make sure nothing surprises you. 

WELCOME BAG DELIVERY

Delivering your welcome bags to the hotel is not the end of the story. They still have to deliver the bags to the individual rooms. This will be an added cost, on average, of $5-$7 per bag. 

WEDDING TROUSSEAU + BEAUTY COSTS

If you want to be extra prepared when it comes to your wedding budget, include your pre-wedding outfits and expenses that may go above your standard needs. For example, if you’ll be needing several special occasion outfits for showers, your bachelorette trip, or rehearsal dinner — this is a great way to not be surprised by extra cost at the last minute. So many people consider the event the only cost — and not what it will take to get your ready for that event. 

Also, take into consideration your honeymoon wardrobe, if that does above and beyond your standard living costs you may want to add that to your budget. 

WEDDING PARTY GIFTS 

Your personal budget for this will vary, but this is often something that gets overlooked when it comes to budgeting. Consider what you want to do as gifts for your wedding party throughout the entire celebration process and be sure to add that into your budget. This includes if you do any proposal gifts when you ask them to be part of your wedding party. 

Don’t forget about gifts for parents, important family members, and even each other! 

AFTER THE WEDDING 

There are costs to budget for after the wedding too! From thank you’s, photo prints, bouquet and/or gown preservation, and more. When it comes to thank you’s, be mindful of the postage cost as well. 

 

PRO-TIPS FOR DEALING WITH HIDDEN WEDDING COSTS

  • Get a wedding planner

We always recommend some type of wedding planner. If you don’t think a full planner is for you, even a month-of planner or coordinator is highly recommended because there are so many moving pieces and they are experts at getting everything together. It reduces wedding stress and can help your budget in the long run. 

  • Budget for your backup plan

Whether it’s a rain plan or something similar, be sure you’ve taken contingencies into account when it comes to budgeting. 

  • Get everything in writing

Don’t assume you have the totals based on what a vendor said in a meeting. Get every total in writing, officially documented, and finalized. 

  • Read the fine print

Once you get everything in print, even if you have a full wedding planner helping you with everything, read the fine print for yourself. Everyone is human and it’s always better to have multiple eyes on something. 

Now you’re prepared for pretty much anything — including any hidden wedding costs.

Happy Planning! 


Are you ready to start your vendor search? We’re here to help you simplify the search process. Click here to start.

Moving Beyond Words to Action

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Moving Beyond Words to Action

Our hearts are heavy. In recent days, we have spoken to express our outrage against acts of racism and our support for the Black community. We continue to grieve so many Black lives that have been unjustly lost. We have been listening and learning, and fully understand that actions, not words, drive change. Our company has been working purposefully to make changes both behind the scenes and public-facing, but we know that we can do more. To that end, we feel an immense responsibility as a media brand to ensure that we adopt more inclusive practices and are intentional about showcasing people of color as we celebrate love through weddings. 

What began as an effort to speak out against racism and injustice became a soul-searching mission to better understand how we can take action within our own organization to address systemic race-related issues. An extremely tough order and it would be naive to believe that one organization can change the world (or even a single community), but it’s the collective actions from many organizations that will drive positive social change. We want to be part of that change. 

We’re committed as a brand to becoming a place where all people feel a sense of belonging and connection. We’re such a beautifully diverse community, and we believe that ALL love is worthy. We have failed couples actively planning who were looking to hire Black vendors or shop at minority-owned businesses. Others did not see themselves represented enough across our platforms. The signals that we sent as a result of our failure to focus more attention on people of color had unintended and alienating consequences and for that, we are very sorry. We know that an intentional and ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion will aid us tremendously moving forward. 

Here’s our pledge to you: 

  1. We vow to publish more racially-diverse content on an ongoing basis and conduct regular reviews to ensure it truly reflects diversity including but not limited to race, sexuality and religion. 
  2. We vow to partner with more ethnically-diverse vendors and minority-owned businesses and deepen our connection with those existing partners.
  1. We vow to continue to listen and use our voice to influence positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content.

The results of our actions won’t be seen overnight, but we promise to uphold these 3 tenants. Furthermore, we will continue to identify many more actionable ways we can improve and promise to continue to use what influence we have for what is good, right and just. Thank you for your support.

A Guide on How To Inform Your Guests You’re Postponing Your Wedding

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So, you’ve decided to postpone your wedding due to COVID-19. This is a big step, and we’re here to help! Wondering how to quickly and effectively inform your quests to let them know? Follow along as we share a few simple steps on how to make it happen!

A Guide on How To Inform Your Guests You're Postponing Your Wedding

Photo // Catherine Smeader Photography

First: Talk to your VIPs

Your very important people are VERY important to first get in contact with! This includes your bridesmaids and groomsmen, close family members, and people that had an influence in financing the wedding. These are going to be the main people to help you pick and choose a wedding date, and help you on the best plan going forward. Once this has been taken care of, you can move on to consulting your vendor team!

Second: Consult your vendor team

Moving your date can cause a lot of chaos, but your vendors are here to help you through it with the least bit of worry possible. First, check with your venue to see if they can accommodate to the new date decided among you and your VIPs! Then, move on to your other vendors to see if this new date works. Keep in mind, not everyone may be able to accommodate to your new wedding date. But, don’t fear, we have some of the best local vendors around here at the Brides of Houston!

Third: Inform your guests

You can’t have a wedding without the guests! First, we suggest sending out an e-card. This is a faster way than snail mail, and your guests will have more time to plan the faster they get a new date! *Tip: invite people who previously declined to come to your wedding on your original date. This new date may be more suitable for them to attend!

Fourth: Check with your stationer

Some stationers are offering assistance with new save the date cards! Check with yours to see if they are doing anything to help couples who had to postpone their wedding.

Fifth: Mail out new invitations (optional)

If you did not send out invitations the first time, now would be a great time to! This gives a second reminder to your guests so they do not forget your new date. Plus, you get to make a pretty new invitation that you will cherish for years to come!

Sixth: Update your wedding website

Our final step: updating your wedding website! The internet is always accessible, and your guests will have an easy way to look at the details of your wedding. Having a website is always a good idea, but if you postpone your date, it will make such a difference to have one! *Tip: most websites offer a texting service that will send updates to your guests!


Now that you’ve let your guests know that you are postponing your wedding, here’s how to continue planning from home.

Whimsical Houston Wedding With The Prettiest Hues of Blue

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What a whimsical Houston wedding for Kristina Hernandez and Matthew Lincoln with the prettiest shades of blue in every detail! Hughes Manor was the stately venue the couple chose, and Flower Vibes adorned the indoor and outdoor spaces with crisp white florals that really popped against the light blue and watercolor touches. Scroll for all the prettiness captured by Ashlen Sydney Photography including the jaw-dropping altar! Cheers!

Photos // Ashlen Sydney Photography

From the bride: “My favorite memory was reading our vows to each other. We wrote them ourselves and had no real guidelines. That moment felt like we were in a bubble and everyone was looking in.”

Ask the Expert – Q&A with Houston Wedding Photographer Kasey Lynn Photography

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Photography… the gateway to a peek in history. Your history. And for that, you’ll want to be certain you’re hiring the right photographer for your wedding day! Kasey Greenfield of Kasey Lynn Photography is sharing the very best advice on how to ensure you get exactly what you want in a photographer in our Q&A below. Read on for her awesome tips!

Ask the Expert – Q&A with Houston Wedding Photographer Kasey Lynn Photography

Photo // Kasey Lynn Photography

What do you find most inspiring when it comes to wedding photographs?

Our couples and their stories! As a photographer, we are there to capture the day as it unfolds and help document it not only for your own memories, but for your future children and grandchildren. I’m always amazed that the photos we capture are essentially what you will show future generations and are images that you will hopefully keep close to your heart. We want to make sure your story is told in a way that is genuine and beautiful.

What do you think is the most important thing to look at when selecting a wedding photographer?

Style! There are so many options for photographers.  Make sure you choose someone who’s style you love. Ask to see full wedding galleries from venues that have similar lighting as yours so you have a good idea of what to expect and how your photographer handles different lighting situations.

What photography trends are you loving in 2019?

This might not be the popular answer, but we love keeping things classic. Trends go in and out of style, and it’s always our goal that in 10+ years your photos won’t look dated or out of style!

What advice do you give to couples when deciding on their wedding photographer?

Make sure you trust your photographer.  Trust their vision, their style… trust their expertise when they advise on something. It helps both us and you get the best photos possible on your wedding day!


Special thanks to Kasey for sharing her advice with us today! To get in touch with Kasey Lynn Photography, you can message her directly from her Brides of Houston profile here.