Sure you've thought of the flowers, the photography, the cake and the caterer, but have you given much thought to items like alterations, facials and restrooms? Most couples don't and for this reason, I think a lot of people end up nickeling and diming their wedding budget to a slow painful death. Below are seven of the biggest surprise expenses that you may face. Please keep in mind that most of the numbers are averages for Southern California brides and not necessarily representative of averages around the nation.
1. Alterations: Everyone has to have the perfect dress and many work oh, so hard to stay within their predetermined budget when purchasing the gown, but they rarely take into consideration the aftermath. Alterations can surprisingly cost a pretty penny with some even running the same amount as your wedding gown. Make sure to set aside $500 to $1000 and up to alter your gown.
2. Shipping: I used to just talk to my destination clients about shipping expenses, but with today's focus on customizing every detail of the big day, even my Los Angeles based clients spend a lot of cash on shipping, whether it's to get the perfect lanterns from France or something as simple as your favorite cookies from New York. On average plan to set aside $100 to $250 just to ship items in for your big day.
3. Stylist, Spa Day and all of the fun stuff: Hair and makeup is the one area that most of my clients end up with a bit of sticker shock. A professional stylist can cost anywhere from $150 to $300 for makeup application alone. Not to mention paying for hair and makeup for the wedding party. Adding this onto things like manicures, pedicures, pre-wedding facials, etc. and you can plan to spend in the $1000 to $1500 range just to look pretty.
4. Rentals: Rentals is always a scarier number than most people expect. Depending on what the venue includes, you can easily drop a significant amount of your budget on rentals and this is something to take into consideration BEFORE you book your venue. Often couples will hire me after booking an unbelievable private estate which seemed liked a killer deal, only to find out that they are looking at $8,000 to $10,000 plus in rental expenses to furnish the home with just the basics like portapotties, lighting, generators and a kitchen for their caterer to cook in. On the other hand, if you are considering a venue that includes most items, take a moment to consider your design before signing on. Sure they have chairs, but are they the rustic bentwoods you are dying to have? If not, plan to spend another $10 per chair to get them. Are the linens and china going to fit your aesthetic? If the answer is no, budget another $1000 plus to compensate.
5. Big Bridal Parties: Everyone underestimates the cost of having a wedding party. It's not just the bouquets (at $65 each and up they can add up quickly) or the gifts you need to give each attendant (estimate $100 per person), but it's also things like the bridal luncheon, the spa day, hair, makeup and so on and so on. Sure you don't have to have these things, but you most likely will want them and the more people that tag along for the ride means the more money you will shell out. Plan on spending about $500 per bridesmaid once you add in flowers, gifts and beauty services.
6. Vendor Meals: Are you having a big band? Are you hiring a crew of cinematographers? If so, plan to spend $25 to $50 per person who is working your event. Most of the weddings I plan have 10 to 20 vendors that are being fed, which can add an additional $500 plus onto your budget when you add in tax and service charge.
7. Gratuities: Along with vendor meals comes the added expense of gratuities. While, entirely optional, if you are of giving nature, make sure you budget for it, so you aren't hemorrhaging unexpected funds the week of your wedding. Depending on the number of vendors, you can anticipate spending anywhere from $250 to $1500 on gratuities alone. I'll be sure to post some tipping guidelines very soon to give you a clearer breakdown of these expenses.
In the end, when budgeting, if you don't want any surprises, try to think about everything in advance. Because, while it is the obvious things like catering and photography that can take huge chunks out of your day, these little items add up so quickly as well.