4 Expenses That Can Break Wedding Budgets

Published 12/11/2019

Written by guest blogger Riley Ashley:

Your wedding is one of the most memorable days of your life, but planning for it can be pretty stressful. With so many preparations to make and expenses to pay, it can definitely break the bank if you're not careful, especially with hidden fees or charges. To avoid surprise costs, here are four expenses to look out for when planning your wedding.

Service fees

These fees aren’t for tipping the staff — they’re for the tiny tasks that come with getting cake and liquor from outside the venue, and are expenses that you may not even know exist. It includes fees for slicing the cake, which can cost anywhere from $2 to $5 per slice, and corking a bottle, which can cost $1.50 to $3. Aside from this, service fees are also for the venue’s own costs of hiring servers, coat checkers, and bathroom and parking attendants. In total, this can amount to 20%-25% of your total drink and food bill. However, it is important to understand that if you use cake or liquor provided by your venue, the service charge is usually included in the overall cost.

Marriage license


This is a fee that can't be avoided — you have to make your union legal, after all. Insider states that marriage license fees can range from $5 to $120, depending on where you get married, if you are a resident, and whether or not you took premarital counseling. It’s important to note that marriage licenses aren't given on the day you apply for one, and this is where costs can come in. If you have a destination wedding, you'll have to fly in a few days before just to apply for the legality, or make a second trip if needed — which will entail more traveling costs.



A wedding dress in itself is already expensive. A post on CNBC titled ‘60% of American Underestimate the Cost of a Wedding’, revealed a 2018 survey from the Knot that found that the average cost of a wedding dress is $1,631 — a figure that doesn’t include any alterations. Most stores won’t include costs for alterations, mostly to remain competitive with their prices. But this service isn’t free. After all, it can take up to 3 hours just to alter a bustier. Depending on what you’re having done, the added cost can be anywhere from as little as $50 to as much as $500.

Overtime fees

When hiring DJs, emcees, a wedding band, or even the makeup crew, they will usually charge you by the hour. It goes without saying that if you go over your agreed-upon hours, they’re likely to charge you extra.

Get past the costs and manage your finances properly

Although not all costs enumerated above are avoidable, the best way not to break the bank is to discuss your finances properly with your soon-to-be spouse. Talk about the budget for the wedding and start saving — some partners even consider opening joint bank accounts. Overall, it's important that you aren’t afraid to talk about money together. ‘Money and Marriage: Why These Three Couples Did – And Didn’t – Combine Their Finances’ published on Marcus points out that there’s no one-size-fits-all way of handling money as a couple, as some see separate accounts as a sign of independence, while others view shared accounts as a way to affirm their commitment. Whatever you choose ultimately depends on what works for you and your partner, and the only way to find this out is through open and honest communication.

Moreover, if you truly want to avoid hidden charges, our article on the ‘7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Planning My Wedding’ emphasizes the importance of thoroughly reading your contract. Read through it carefully and discuss everything with both your spouse and the vendors to avoid financial stress and have the wedding day of your dreams!

All images from Unsplash