20 Unexpected Wedding Costs You May Need to Account For

by Susan Paige
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When working on your wedding budget, there are plenty of factors that go without saying: the dress, the catering, the DJ (or band). But there are also plenty of unexpected wedding costs that may surprise you. 

Don’t get caught off guard when the big day arrives. We’ve put together a list of 20 unexpected wedding costs you may need to consider in your wedding budget. With so much on your plate when planning your big day, it’s easy to forget about these hidden wedding costs.

1. Beauty Treatments

Many brides, and an increasing number of grooms, prepare for their special day with enhanced beauty treatments. We’re not just talking about hair and makeup. In order to awe the guests and achieve the perfect wedding photos, some are opting for Botox, cosmetic treatments, smile makeovers, or other clinical beauty enhancements. If you decide to go that route, be sure to incorporate the cost into your wedding budget. 

2. Trial Looks

You’ve already budgeted for your beauty routine for the day of the wedding, including hair and makeup. But when planning your wedding, you’ll also want to factor in costs for trying different looks to pick the perfect one. 

3. Marriage License

For your marriage to be legal, you’ll need a marriage license. These range from $20 to $100, varying by state. And some states won’t give you a copy of your license once it’s filed, requiring you to visit the courthouse, so you may need to figure in the costs of an extra trip.

4. Stationary

You’ve probably already got a line in your budget to cover save-the-dates and invitations. But you’ll also need to save room to account for other stationery, like place cards, programs, menu cards, and other placement items you may need the day of your wedding. 

5. Stamps

A typical wedding cost that’s easy to forget is postage fees for all the items you have to mail. Don’t feel bad about buying cheap stamps. No one looks at the postage. 

6. Postage Weight Costs

You’ll also need to factor in the weight of your packages. A standard weight will run $0.34, while thick stock paper and heavy envelopes can cost you up to a few dollars each. Oddly shaped mail will also cost more.

7. Alterations

Many people continue altering their wedding attire right up to the day of the wedding. If you’re planning to have your wedding attire altered, put aside money in the budget. It can cost between $100 and $500.

8. Overtime Costs

When you hire the staff for the wedding, they’ve agreed to stay for a set amount of time. But if the party goes over, you may have to pay extra. 

9. Gift Bags

Gift bags are an optional expense that not everyone uses. If you plan to set out gift bags, figure out the costs early on in your planning and include them in your budget.

10. Gratuities

There are going to be plenty of workers helping out. Don’t forget to budget for tips. You may already have gratuity added for servers. But you’ll still need to tip the photographer, planner, musicians, transport drivers, officiant, and rental staff.

11. Event Liability Insurance

Some venues may require you to hold event insurance, which keeps you from being held liable for any damages that may occur during your wedding. Coverage can range from $100 to $500.

12. Childcare

For weddings where children are discouraged, you may have to cover the costs of childcare. Depending on how you handle the situation, you could spend a few hundred dollars.

13. Additional Staff

Many events provide minimal staff in their contracts. Depending on your wedding size, you may need additional waitstaff. Aim for one person per eight guests and one bartender per 75 guests. Factor in $20 to $30 an hour for each additional member.

14. Guest Transportation

You may decide to provide transportation for guests coming in from out of town. And if any guests get too intoxicated during the wedding, you may have to pay for their way home.

15. Limo

Many married couples use a limo to bring them to and from the wedding venue. Shop around and find the best rates. Check their prices for when they’re not in transport, such as during the ceremony or reception. Some services charge extra. 

16. Vendor Meals

Depending on how long you’re keeping the staff around, you may have to add money into the budget to cover meals for all of them. 

17. Reception Lighting

Adding additional lighting for the reception area can be as expensive as $1,000, so don’t forget to research and add this to your budget.

18. Party Attire

If you’re going to have an engagement party or rehearsal dinner, you may want to show up in something new. Factor in a shopping trip to cover any pre-wedding events.

19. Accessories and Undergarments

Many people forget to include the costs of all the accessories needed for a wedding, including garters, bouquets, veil, shoes, jewelry, flowers, and ties for the men, undergarments (corsets, stockings) and don’t forget your something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Budget $200 to $500.

20. Emergency Fund

You should always add an emergency fund into any budget to account for things you may have forgotten. Factor in a few hundred dollars to stay safe.

Nothing can ruin a magical day like an unexpected bill. Start planning well in advance, speak with an experienced wedding planner, and put together a comprehensive budget that accounts for all of the expenses you might incur—not just the obvious ones. 

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