The Hidden Costs of a Wedding

Hello Chaps!

How are you on this fine, fine day?

I’m having a lovely day today, though I’m not looking forward to body pump tonight, I think I may die!

Anyway, we have a very special post today created by the fantastic Karen Ellis, who is a lifestyle writer based out of the United States.  She has an upcoming blog but you can connect with her now through Google+.

It’s all about the hidden costs of a wedding, as when Karen was helping her sister in getting married they saw some areas that they didn’t realise was going to be a problem, so she decided to create this and send it to me to show to the world!  It’s a great piece and full of really handy tips for planning your wedding.


Over to you Karen…

With the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2013 costing about almost $30,000 (and £18,000 in the UK), it’s no wonder that brides and grooms are looking for any opportunity to save on their big day.  Even if you are able to pinch a few pennies, the fragile budget that you carefully constructed could be in danger if you don’t anticipate certain costs and fees that are often unspoken, unthought of or hidden in contracts.

These extra charges can quickly add up, emptying your wallet and maxing out your credit cards.  However, if you play it smart, you can not only prepare for these fees, but even cut down on them.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy Ian Collins

Postage For Invitations

When choosing those gorgeous invitations, you might not have considered how much it would cost to ship them around the country to invite all of your extended family to your special day.  The weight and shape of the cards can greatly impact how much your postage will cost.

To help cut down on how much you shell out at the post office, try to choose an invite that fits a standard size envelope.  If you must have that unusual invite, stock up on Forever stamps to help cut down on cost.

Also, when picking your stationery, try choosing postcard RSVP and save the date cards, as these will cost far less to ship. If you want to dramatically cut down on postage, set up a RSVP system through a customized wedding website and send out a few paper RSVP cards to your less-technologically advanced invitees only.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy Elite Alterations

Wedding Dress Alteration

When a little girl dreams about her wedding dress, she envisions it fitting like a glove and making her feel like a bride.  However, what she doesn’t imagine is the extra money it will take beyond the already hefty price tag to make that gown fit like a dream.

Wedding dress alterations can cost anywhere from $200 to $550, turning any bargain you might have negotiated back into a budget killer.  This is why it is crucial to factor in this extra fee in before setting a price limit for your tulle and taffeta fantasy.

Also, should you purchase from a bridal salon, they will often recommend having the alterations done in-house, but they might not be offering the best deal.  Shop around for the best price and be sure ask your married friends where they got their dresses hemmed and bustles installed, as they might know of a good deal in the area.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy of Legendary Events

Cake-cutting and Corkage Fees

Food is often the most pricey part of a wedding, with catering eating up almost a third of the allotted budget.  To help save on this, you might have to decide to order a cake from an outside bakery or attempt to make the confection yourself.

However, this cost-saving choice could end up with you paying.  Some venues and caterers actually charge a cake-cutting fee that is similar to the corkage fees found in restaurants when you bring in your own bottle of wine.

Before choosing to outsource your dessert, check with your caterer and venue to see if they charge this fee to truly see the price of that other cake.  It is also a good idea to verify if either of these vendors charge to serve any alcohol you might have purchased from another source before making the decision whether to purchase your own beer and wine or use the catering company.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy The Estate

Lighting and Tents

An outdoor wedding or reception can be beautiful, but the possibility for inclimate weather means that you’ll need to rent more than just chairs.  The combined cost of renting a tent along with lighting and headers is already steep, but some venues will also charge you to be able to set up a tent on their grounds or require a specific kind of lighting that you can only rent from them.

To help defer this cost, verify with your local Fire Marshall what specifics will be needed for your tent setup.  Then, check with your venue to see what requirements they have for your tent setup, specifically asking if there are any extra fees tacked on or specific vendors you are required to use.

If at all possible, it is best to choose a venue that already has an outdoor area set up or has a tent and appropriate lighting available for a very small fee.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy of Garrett Hubbard Studios

Don’t Rush! But Don’t Lag…

While you might be tempted to keep the party going all night long, you will be racking up a much bigger bill for those few extra minutes of celebration.  Most vendors and venues will charge you if you go over the time that you previously agreed on.

To minimize these fees, check with all of your vendors beforehand about any overage fees and don’t be afraid to keep your party on a short leash.  Make sure your band or DJ knows to end on time, even if your great-aunt Sally wants to keep doing the Electric Slide, and build in ample time for cleanup to ensure that you aren’t being charged while you’re gathering up centerpieces.

Matthew Oliver Wedding Planner

Image Courtesy Nik Karvounis

Plan Ahead For Smooth Sailing

No matter how much we try to prevent them, tragedies happen – even on a wedding day or honeymoon.  Be it inclimate weather, flight delays, family issues or health problems, an issue could arise and derail your plans.

Since you don’t want to pay for a honeymoon you don’t go on if you and your spouse are hospitalized because your caterer gave you bad shrimp, invest in wedding and honeymoon insurance.  It might seem like an unnecessary fee, but it can prevent you from paying out in the long run.

Additionally, for every expensive vendor that you bring on, there are taxes and gratuities that need to be added on.  Most party planners state that 5 to 10% of your budget will go to these additional costs.

But these extra charges aren’t the only places you can save some money.  There are plenty of other places to trim the fat, such as:

  • Use a single vendor. To ensure there are no extra fees, use one vendor you love that will help you create a custom look for as many parts of your wedding as possible.  Not only will you be working with someone who will provide great service, but also offer a cohesive feel to your whole event.
  • Take the season into account. Planning an outdoor wedding with sunflowers in December will not only be hard to coordinate, but also much more expensive when you factor in the costs of the buds and heaters.  Let the seasons work in your favor by choosing flowers that are easier to find and venues that will accommodate the weather.
  • Get a planner. Working with an event planning company means that not only all of your needs be handled, your budget will be respected as well.  Experienced planners can work out deals with vendors that the public might not have access to, saving you money along the way.  Also, a great event planner will be upfront about all issues and manage your day from beginning to end.  So, while your planner is ensuring venders are in line, keeping everything to schedule and ensuring setup and cleanup are handled quickly and efficiently to reduce overtime, you can be enjoying your day.

What other ideas do you have to save big money on your big day?  If you’ve already been a bride, what hidden costs did you find and how did you handle them?  Let us know in the comments below!


What great advice!  It’s wonderful to have someone who has witnessed all of this and write something to help you all with the planning, because I understand that it can be difficult for you, especially if you’ve never planned a wedding before.

Make sure to keep an eye out on the amazing Karen, and when her lifestyle blog launches I’ll let you all know!  She has also said she’ll be happy to write another post, so stay tuned for that, and if you have anything that you would like help on or answered, please let us know below?

Thank you again to the beautiful Karen and thanks to you for popping by.

Lots of love,

Matthew Oliver Wedding and Events Planner xxx