If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, you’re probably already well aware that costs add up quickly. But if you’re just at the beginning of the planning process, you should know it’s more than just the cost of the venue and the DJ. Weddings include less obvious costs as well, and you might not think of them right out of the gate. It’s important to budget for these expenses anyway so that you don’t end up going above and beyond your means.
Are you wondering what these sneaky costs are? If you haven’t run into them yet, keep an eye out for the following eight financial factors, and include them in your pre-wedding budget.
1. Marriage License Fee
It might not be the most glamorous aspect of planning your wedding, but you’ll have to stop at your local courthouse at some point to grab a wedding license. Otherwise, your nuptials won’t legally bind you to your beloved. The marriage license office is rarely romantic, but it’s a necessary step in wedding planning, and you should bring a check with you. The fee varies by state, but it’s generally around $100, so factor it into your overall budget.
2. Cost Per Guest
You won’t know exactly how much each guest on your list costs until you nail down a venue, but you can estimate. The average cost per guest in the United States comes in at $70, and you can easily spend upwards of $150 or $200 per head at a fancier venue. Consider these ballpark figures early in the planning stages when you decide how many friends and family members to invite. You might realize quickly that second cousins don’t make the cut!
3. Makeup and Hair Trial
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You probably recognize that bridal hair and makeup cost money, but did you take the makeup and hair trial into account? To ensure you love your look on the big day, your makeup artist and hair stylist will set up a test run a few months or weeks ahead of time. Sometimes artists fold the price of the hair and makeup trial into their overall rate, but the bridal trial can run you an extra $75 to $100 (per service).
4. Decor and Extras
Most venues provide basic decor, such as votive candles and a sign directing your guests to the reception hall. But you’re responsible for the rest of it, and not just flowers and centerpieces. Keep the smaller stuff in mind too, such as a stand large enough to hold your seating list or place cards and a guestbook or another item for guests to inscribe with their well wishes.
5. Rehearsal Dinner
Traditionally, the groom’s parents paid for the rehearsal dinner. But in modern society, it’s not wise to assume that this will be the case. If you’re paying for your own rehearsal dinner (it’s fair to ask your future in-laws or parents if you aren’t sure!), take this cost into account. Depending on the size and style of your rehearsal dinner, it can easily cost more than $1,000. The average rehearsal dinner costs $1,330. Factor this cost into the early stages of your wedding planning so that it doesn’t sneak up on you later.
Invitations often require a large investment, so don’t underestimate it. If you’re looking for a elegant option, try letterpress wedding invitations. You’ll pay a bit more because the letterpress puts an imprint in the paper, creating a glamorous look and feel, but the final aesthetic makes it worthwhile. Interested in something more affordable? Consider an all-in-one invitation that comes with tear-off sections, including an RSVP postcard.
7. Suit and Dress Alterations
You probably already tossed around some ideas about the cost of the wedding dress and tux, but did you think about the cost of alterations? Bridal gowns, in particular, often incur expensive alteration fees. If you choose a particularly lavish gown, you could pay hundreds of dollars for the perfect fit. Since you certainly can’t skip the alterations, it’s important that you keep this fee in mind as you plan other aspects of your wedding.
8. Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
The bride and groom traditionally won’t pay for the bulk of their bachelor/bachelorette party activities, but you should plan on some expenses if you’re going all out. Think about the cost of airfare, a hotel room and food that you might have to swing yourself, even as the guest of honor.
Planning the wedding of your dreams probably feels like an overwhelming financial endeavor at times, but it’s really all about budgeting and spending within your means. If you consider all the costs up front, including these under-the-radar extras, you’ll have no trouble creating the perfect day without breaking the bank in the process.
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