We Break Down 15 Hidden Wedding Costs

If you are working with a professional wedding planner, he or she will likely provide a comprehensive estimated budget for you based on your plans and vision for your big day.

If you are doing the planning for your own wedding, or have a friend willing to help, you might be in for a few surprise expenses. Here are the top 15 costs you probably never saw coming:

1. Alterations

Sure, you may think you saved some severe moola by purchasing a once-worn gown or are using a vintage dress. But did you consider the alterations? A simple hem can be north of $100, and fixing the beading and moving zippers can go way past $500 quickly.

2. Welcome Bag Delivery

Some hotels we have worked with charge $7 or so for each bag they hand out to your guests, but they don’t always let you know of the cost beforehand.

2. Postage

Most wedding invitations weigh more than what’s covered under a single stamp. Some exquisite invitations we have had the honor of working with ended up costing $2.00 or more for each address.

3. Extra Hours

It may not have been discussed in your venue, DJ, and musician negotiations, but if you look closely at your contract, you may find a semi-hidden charge if your wedding reception runs later. These fees, around Sonoma and Napa counties, can range between $100 and $500 for each extra hour.

5. Taxes and Tip

It is customary in northern California to tip all of your vendors, including your wedding planner. The amount of these tips depend on your perceived value - if the vendors did a great job, you might consider a tip of 20-25% of their bill.

6. Flowers

Sure, you have your heart set on a particular floral theme. But did you know choosing out of season flowers can make a huge impact on your wedding budget? Picking local, in season flowers is better for your budget and the environment.

7. Wedding Attire and Accessories

Have you considered the cost of dressing your wedding party? The price of clothing is usually more expensive than most couples imagined. What about renting? Not only will it save money, but it’s better for the environment as well.

8. Cake Cutting

Many of our couples thought bringing the DIY wedding cake saved them some money, only to be slapped with a $7/guest cutting and plating fee from the venue, which would have been waived if the in-house pastry team had crafted your cake.

9. Dinner Rentals

Some of the venues we work with do not provide wedding decor like china, linens, chairs, tables, or flatware. In this scenario, you have to rent your decor, and this is a substantial expense. For example, some of our local rental agencies range $5-$30 per chair and charge several hundred dollars for delivery and setup.

10. Set Up Fees

Things like sound equipment, decor, rentals, and custom floral arrangements often require setup and delivery costs.

11. Clean Up Costs

Some of our local venues include clean up costs, but others do not. These charges vary by the size of your wedding but can add another $700-$1,000 to your final bill. Please consider your recycling options?

12. Vendor Meals

When you finalize your guest list, be sure to include your vendors when planning your meals. Your caterer will often offer these at a substantial discount.

13. Corkage Fees

Buying your own wine may seem like a good idea, but if you are hosting your wedding at one our local wineries, you may be facing corkage fees. Still bringing your own organic wine may always make sense, but be prepared for the corkage expense.

14. Permits

If you are planning your wedding in one of northern California’s fabulous state parks, you should consider the permit, usage, and cleanup fees. You can often find the amount of these fees on the property’s website.

15. The Backup Plan

Sure, if you have a summer wedding planned here in northern California you can almost be certain of mild weather and sunshine. But if you are a fan of spring, winter, or autumn weddings, it is wise to budget for an indoor or tented venue.

So that’s it - these are the things we see most often missing in DIY wedding budgets. Consider keeping this list handy as you go through your planning process.