Unexpected Wedding Costs

Weddings can be expensive, but setting a budget, in the beginning, will keep you on track. Sticking to your budget, though, can be hard because of so many unexpected costs. Here are some easily overlooked items that you should consider when planning your budget.

Beauty Treatments:

Having your hair and makeup done for your wedding will be something you plan for, but there are other beauty items that you might want to indulge in before your wedding such as getting your nails done, hair highlighted, facial or a stress relieving massage.

Your Bachelorette Party:

Bachelorette parties are becoming bigger than ever including mini vacations with your girls. Usually not planned until right beforehand, talk with your maid of honor early on to find out what she might want to do. If it’s going away for a night or more, put aside some of your budget to cover those extra costs.

Paper Products:

When you think of your paper goods, you think of invitations and save-the-date cards, but don’t forget about postage, programs, place cards, “thank you” notes and favor tags. These are all things you won’t think about until the wedding is a few weeks out, and by then you will have likely spent your invitation budget.


You found the perfect dress. It fit perfectly within your budget, but it might not fit you perfectly. It might need a little tuck or the hem a bit shorter. Depending on the alteration, it could run from $200 to $1,000 pretty quickly.

Pre-Wedding Party Attire:

You budgeted for your wedding dress, but what about the other events you will want cute outfits for? Plan a clothing line item in your budget for your bridal shower, bachelorette party, bridal tea, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.


Favors can run a couple of dollars per person even if you are a DIYer. Want to save on your favors? Give one per couple or even opt out of having them. Another idea is to include them as part of your reception such as a candy bar. Have small boxes for people to take the candy home. It can serve as a favor and your dessert.

Vendor Meals:

Whether a vendor has it written in the contract or not, plan on paying for your vendors’ meals. Talk to your caterer about a separate vendor meal than what your guests are eating to possibly save a few dollars.

Décor Beyond the Flowers:

Flowers are a typical budget item, but what about the other décor items that you might want to incorporate such as candles, candle holders, signage for your guests, specialty linens and lanterns? Depending on your look, this could easily be hundreds of dollars.


It’s a good idea to plan on 5-10% of your budget for vendor tips. Some often-forgotten vendors include bartenders, servers, valets, coat check attendants, officiants, makeup artists, hair stylists, the cake delivery team and limo drivers. Some vendors will state it in their contracts if a tip is included in the price. If not, and the service is good, then plan on including a gratuity.

Sales Tax and Service Charges: 

With every vendor proposal you get, check to make sure it includes sales tax in the quote. 4.75% might not seem like a lot, but add that to the cost of your reception, and it will make an impact on your budget. You might be surprised to see a service charge added to your invoice as well. Some vendors will use that instead of a gratuity while others will apply it to the cost of running their business. Either way, averaging 18-20% will increase the bottom line quickly.

Emergency Fund:

Finally, have an emergency fund. Set aside 10 to 20% for “other” items. This could be a change in décor, your parents are pressuring you to invite the cousin you don’t like, you break a nail at the rehearsal and have to get it fixed or 100 other unplanned things that you didn’t budget for.

There is no way to know, in advance, how much you will end up spending when your wedding is done, but by preparing for the unexpected ahead of time, you won’t be left scrambling to come up with extra cash at the last minute.