11 Hidden Wedding Costs to Look Out For

By Editorial Staff
iStock / iStock

Before you’re able to raise a glass and cut a rug on your wedding day, you’ll likely spend months planning and budgeting for the event. Because the unfortunate truth is, whether you have 10 guests or 300, celebrating your love with the people close to you is going to cost you some money. Save yourself heartbreak and headache by anticipating these 11 often-overlooked or hidden expenses.


You want to look your best on your big day, and that may mean hiring a professional to do your hair and makeup. But when all eyes are on you, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable with a new style. A trial with your hair and makeup stylist—in which you test a number of looks and pick your favorite—is a smart idea, but it doesn’t come free. While it varies from stylist to stylist, you can plan on spending $100 to $300 (or more) on your trial.


A service charge is a mandatory charge your vendor may add to your final bill. While this is often used to pay the staff (servers, bartenders, etc.), it does not always take the place of a gratuity. Be sure to ask your vendor whether this is the case and if any extra gratuity is expected. While another charge may be hard to swallow, it’s much better to face it head-on than to accidentally stiff the staff their tip.


Unless you’ve chosen an all-inclusive venue, you’re going to have to pay someone—be it the venue, the caterer, or a rentals company—to rent just about everything you can think of. For starters, you’ll need chairs, tables, dishes, silverware, and linens. Start by talking to your venue about what is included in the price, then see if your caterer (if you have one) can help you fill in any holes.


All those rented items—as well as your flowers, cake, lights, sound equipment, and more—will also need to be brought to your venue. And unless you plan on setting everything up yourself, you’ll need someone to put things in the right place. These delivery and set-up fees can run you hundreds of dollars.


Talk to your venue and band or DJ about what equipment will be needed early in the game. While your music vendor will usually be able to provide their own equipment, your venue might have special needs that must be taken into account. And don’t forget that you will need microphones and speakers during your ceremony and toasts as well—if neither your band nor venue provides these, you’ll need to find them elsewhere.


Having goodie bags waiting for your out-of-town guests when they arrive at their hotel is a nice touch. But in addition to the cost of putting the bags together, you might need to plan on paying for their distribution. Hotels may charge up to $7 per bag.


If your venue or caterer allows you to bring in your cake from an outside bakery, they may charge you a fee to serve it to your guests. This could run you an additional $2 to $5 per guest.


Again, a full-service venue won’t charge you to clean up after the event. But if you rent a raw space for your wedding, you may need to pay for trash removal and a cleanup crew at the end of the night. Read your vendor contracts carefully to see what is included in their services; your caterer or another vendor might already have this under control.


These costs aren’t exactly hidden, but they’re easy to forget about when making your budget. In addition to your guests, you’ll need to feed any of your vendors that will be around during the reception—this typically means your band or DJ, photographer, videographer, and event coordinator (but not your florist or ceremony musicians, who will have left by dinnertime). Check with your caterer or venue to see what this will run you—usually at least $20 per person.


If your party is still going strong when the clock strikes midnight (or whatever time your event officially ends) and you’re loath to wrap things up, be prepared to pay. If your musicians, photographer, and event space charge you by the hour, additional costs will rapidly skyrocket.


When creating your wedding budget, it’s smart to expect the unexpected. Whether your mother insists on extra flowers at the eleventh hour or you decide you hate the shoes you’ve chosen and need to buy a new pair, you want to have the financial wiggle room to make the problem go away.