Weddings are one of the pricier investments a couple can make over the course of their relationship. In fact, the average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2017 was $25,764, according to The Wedding Report. Suffice to say, the last thing you want to do during the stressful wedding-planning process is worry about any extraneous costs.
We go over some commonly overlooked wedding expenses to factor into your budget, so you can avoid unwelcome financial surprises on your special day.
While you may want to focus all your energy into efficiently budgeting for the main event, it's important to consider all the events that tend to happen before the wedding. Bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners... these are all great ways to get your friends and family excited for your wedding, but they're also extra expenses you may need to add to your budget. As an example, the average rehearsal dinner cost is $1,330, according to Brides.com. The site notes that "While some in-laws foot the bill, more couples are paying for it themselves."
You'll need to consider how much you want to spend on the invitations from sites such as Vistaprint, catering, event space rentals, and gifts for guests if you and your future spouse are planning these pre-wedding events. If throwing a formal event isn't your cup of tea, though, that's okay! You can always plan low-key get-togethers with friends and family that won't empty your wallet, like barbecues, parties at your house, or small dinners at your favorite restaurants before the wedding.
Marriage License Fees
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you'll need to get your marriage license before your wedding. And these licenses can cost upwards of $100, depending on the state. If you're not sure what the application process or fee is in the area where you're getting married, the US Marriage Laws website can be a helpful resource.
Cake-Cutting and Corkage Fees
Did you know many venues charge a fee to cut the cake at your wedding? It may seem like a silly addition to your catering bill, but there's a reason for the charge. Reception venues usually add this expense to your bill if you use an outside dessert caterer for your wedding, to cover the revenue they'll be missing out on from lost dessert sales. But they may also include it in your contract even if they're catering your event. Cake-cutting fees can cost anywhere from $1.25 to $12.50 per guest.
You may also be charged a corkage fee for any wine or liquor served at your wedding, so consider that when you're planning what drinks you want at the bar.
If you want to avoid being surprised by these costs, be sure to double- and triple-check your catering contract. You can also avoid racking up the bill by keeping your guest list small – fewer people means fewer cake slices!
Consider the possibility of some unexpected arrivals at the big event. No, we don't mean wedding crashers, but there's always a chance some of your invited guests who forgot to RSVP will show up to your wedding, or guests could bring a last-minute plus-one. As you tally up your final guest count, you may want to add a few extra place settings and factor in those costs, just to be safe. (Remember to count yourself and your soon-to-be spouse in the final guest count, too.)
Setup and Cleanup
You've probably figured out your venue arrangements — reception location, tent size, food, and entertainment — but you may have forgotten one key element: how is it all going to get set up and broken down, and how much is that going to add to your bill?
Now, if you're planning your wedding at a full-service venue, setup and breakdown charges will likely be included in the cost of labor in your contract. But if you're renting out a space, expect to have to shell out extra cash. Garbage removal alone can cost up to $250, while you may have to pay up to $500 for post-party cleanup. Always make sure you fully understand your contractual obligation to venues and rental spaces before you make any final decisions.
Readers, what unexpected costs popped up when you were planning your wedding? Tell us about them in the comments!