8 Hidden Wedding Costs
By Lydia Martin

30 May 2016

You’ve budgeted for all the major items – the venue, dress and photographer. But there are lots of little pricey extras which slide under the radar and can quickly put your perfectly ordered wedding budget out of balance! This week, Wellington Weddings investigates some of the most commonly overlooked wedding costs, and how to avoid these little-known financial pitfalls. Don’t find yourself at the wrong end of the budget spreadsheet.

1. Wedding Dress Alterations

In most cases, even though your bridal shop took your measurements, they will have ordered the dress that was in the next closest size to you. As a result, it probably won't fit perfectly and you'll need to have some alterations once it arrives. This is a hidden cost as most stores don’t include alterations in the price of the wedding dress, and they’re not doing it for free!

The cost: While a simple hem can be less than $100, and adding straps less than $50, if you need to completely rebuild a bodice or move zippers, this can send the price in alterations above $500.

Ways to save: Always ask what the bridal 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, remember to reserve some of your dress budget specifically for alterations.


2. Postage Stamps on Invites

Stationers don't usually advertise their shipping costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler (cheaper) invites. Or even make them yourself.

The cost: Oversized, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often cost you as much as $2 each to mail. So if you’re sending 80+ invites, that’s $160 just to post them!

Ways to save: Skip all those fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, they may look stunning but will ultimately cost a lot more than you bargained for.


3. Wedding Party Extras

There are lots of little extras you end up buying in the week leading up to the wedding. Does it look like rain? You’ll need to buy clear or coloured umbrellas. Is it going to be windy? You might want to buy wraps for your bridesmaids or pay for their French manicures. It is also traditional to buy a gift for your flower girls, ring bearers, bridesmaids, and groomsmen – jewellery and cufflinks are popular choices.

The cost: Umbrellas can cost between $10-$20 each, so depending on the size of your wedding party you could be looking at $100+. French manicures cost $55 - $75 per person. Gifts for members of the wedding party may also cost another $300.

Ways to save: Buy clear umbrellas off trade-me from former brides, or ask your photographer whether they have some. You don’t need to buy wraps from a bridal store, have a look at your local mall for a cheaper alternatives and ask for a discount if you are buying 4+. The same goes for jewellery and cufflinks.


4. Makeup & Hair Trials

It isn't uncommon for brides to make room in their wedding day budget for professional hair and makeup, but don’t forget to add the cost of a trial run to your budget.

The cost: A hair and makeup trial for the bride-to-be usually costs between $140 to $180.

Ways to save: Instead of having a full trial, you could simply meet with your professional makeup and hair artist to discuss your requirements for the big day. Or alternatively, if you're going to be paying for these services and getting a full face of makeup and gorgeous locks, try to plan them on the same day as say, a bridal shower, a hen’s night, or an engagement photo-shoot.


5. Table/Chair/Place Setting Rentals

You've paid the large fee to use your reception site, but what if they only offer the space? In most cases, you’re probably going to need to provide your own chairs, tables, and decorations if you're going for a swoon-worthy magazine spread.

The cost: Event rentals in major cities can run anywhere from $5 per chair to $20+ per chair for fancier styles. The same goes for tables, linens, place settings and glasses.  If you’re hiring a reception venue which already includes chairs and tables, don’t forget to ask how much it costs for white covers, as well as coloured bows to match the bridesmaid dresses. This can range from $7 per person to $20 per person.

Ways to save: Look for venues which already offer a basic selection as part of the cost of hire, however, you need to remember that it might not fit exactly with your decor or style. Finding a space that fits your vision for the big day may actually be worth spending a few extra dollars.


6. Cake-cutting & Corkage Fees

If you use a cake or alcohol provided by your reception venue, the charge is normally included in the cost. Going with an outside baker or providing your own wine or bubbly can raise the price. Why? Because the venue's workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes. This means more work for venue’s the staff!

The cost: From $1.50 to $4 per guest for the cake (depending on the decoration, size, etc…); from $1 to $3 for every bottle the venue opens.

Ways to save: Consult your venue and read the fine print. Calculate the cake-cutting and corkage fees before you decide to go with outside sources.


7. Overtime Costs

Your band, DJ, photographer, and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, you’ll most likely be charged by the hour.

The cost: Starting at $200 per hour.

Ways to Save: Arrive on time! Factor in additional time for getting dressed and taking photos; that way, you can book your vendors for a more realistic timeline. Get overtime costs in writing so you'll know what to expect if you decide to keep the party going later than anticipated.


8. Clean-up Costs

Many couples spend so much time planning the actual day that they forget to budget for what happens when it's all over!

The cost: While a full-service venue won't charge for these things, if you're paying a flat fee to rent the space, anticipate fees for rubbish removal, freight elevator use, and cleaning. Even most full-service venues require same-day setup and cleanup. So if you're getting married on a weekend or public holiday, expect to pay time and a half for labour, and if your party continues into the wee hours of the morning, you may face extra charges for late-night pickup and cleanup.

Ways to save: Read your contract carefully - the setup and breakdown costs should be included in the room hire charge. Ask trusted friends to help set-up, clean-up and remove rubbish at the end of the night.

Have you already included all of the above items in your wedding budget? Well done! You’re a budget-savvy bride! But regardless, you should still set aside $500-1000 for “the other.” “The other” is for when the icing on the cake melts the day before the wedding and you have to rush order a new one, or for when the bridesmaid who has traveled from another city forgets her matching shoes. “Other” is for the aunt and uncle who said ‘yes’ to the invitation to the wedding reception when your parents assured you they wouldn’t come, or for the last minute flowers you decide to have for the church.

So prepare for the unexpected ahead of time, and you won't be left scrambling to come up with extra cash at the last minute!