Hidden Wedding Costs
Wedding Dress Alterations
Hidden Wedding Cost: Even though your bridal salon took your measurements, they ordered the dress that was in the next closest size to you. Translation: It probably won't fit perfectly and you'll need to have some type of alterations once it comes in.
Avoid It: Ask what the store charges for alterations before you buy the gown. If it's too much, don't be afraid to take the dress to a less expensive seamstress for changes. Otherwise, reserve some of your dress budget money specifically for alterations; meaning you'll buy a less expensive dress and spend the few hundred that you have left over to alter it.
Hidden Wedding Cost: Does your rain plan involve tenting a good portion of your outdoor wedding reception area? That could cost extra. Depending on the size and style of the tent, could be a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars extra. Often, you'll be required to make a decision a few weeks before the wedding about whether you want to have a tent on reserve. Even if you don't end up using the tent, you could lose the 50 percent deposit you were required to put down to reserve it. Of course, if you do use it, you'll simply pay the balance.
Avoid It: Go with a venue that has a built-in rain plan (read: they don't charge extra for the tent or they've got an indoor space where they can easily move your reception). And if the rain plan means moving you to another room, keep in mind the cost of any extra decor you may want to add there.
Hidden Wedding Cost: Lots of venues have approved vendor lists -- companies they prefer working with -- for the major players, like caterers, florists and even photographers. If you're not bringing in someone on their list, they could charge an extra 20 percent or more.
Avoid It: Before you book, ask whether you'll be charged extra for using someone not from the vendor list. Otherwise, stick to their preferred vendors (remember: there's a reason they've kept these companies on the list). Or, if you've got a favorite caterer or florist, work backward and ask them about the venues they like most.
Breakdown and Cleanup Costs
Hidden Wedding Cost: At the end of the reception, you'll go off and enjoy your first night as newlyweds -- and someone else will clean up the party. Most venues require a fee for setup and breakdown that will usually happen the same day as your wedding. If your wedding goes into the early morning, cleanup may be time and a half for labor, meaning it can add on a several hundred dollars extra.
Avoid It: Ask about setup and breakdown costs in your initial quote and make sure that the labor charges are clearly spelled out so there's no surprise later.
Before booking your band or DJ, clearly explain the layout of your venue (or better yet, offer them a floor plan with measurements or have them check it out in person) so they know exactly what they're up against. And if they're adding extras, remember that you should be asking extra questions. Have them explain why the equipment is necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay for anything additional.
Reception Band or DJ Equipment
Hidden Wedding Cost: Typically, your band fee includes paying for the musicians and a minimal amount of equipment. If your reception is in an extra-large space, you'll likely need more speakers, microphones and even an extra sound engineer to make sure everything sounds great. Those additional items could add on anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Avoid It: Before booking your band or DJ, clearly explain the layout of your venue (or better yet, offer them a floor plan with measurements or have them check it out in person) so they know exactly what they're up against. And if they're adding extras, remember that you should be asking extra questions. Have them explain why the equipment is necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay for anything additional.
Hidden Wedding Cost: Sure those invites are gorgeous -- but that awkward square shape means you'll be paying extra postage per invitation. Even if it's just 62 cents per envelope, that can add up pretty quickly: It's an additional $96 for 150 invitations (and other invites can be as much as $2 each to mail!).
Avoid It: Know your standard mail sizes. (For instance, letters can't be more than a fourth of an inch thick or larger than 11.5 inches long by 6.125 inches high. You can get the complete list at USPS.com.) If you're looking to save, consider putting an odd-shaped invitation into a standard-size envelope, so you won't pay extra. Or skip boxed invitations and cards with multiple layers of paper, which can bulk up quickly and cost more than you have in your budget.