Planning your big day can be a creative dream, as you get the chance to put your unique touch on every little detail. It’s no secret that each of those details comes with a price tag, though. Planning how much you like to spend is one of the less magical parts of planning your wedding, but it’s a must. If you do your research, there are plenty of ways to stay on track so you’re not faced with any surprises when the final fees come about. Read ahead for a guide on the most common hidden wedding costs so you can keep an eye out for them and go all out on the rest of your celebration.

The 8 most common hidden wedding costs to budget for 

Yes, these hidden wedding fees can add up if you’re not careful. But if you know what to look for, you can save on the little things in a way that also adds up. And if you reallocate spend away from the things that matter less to you and your spouse, that’s more in the bank for the aspects that are the most important to you. Here are the areas to add your wedding budget checklist, so the hidden wedding costs don’t catch you by surprise. 

1. Planning costs

As you select your vendors for your big day, you may attend sampling events and trials to help make your choices. Trying out options for your menu and cake are some of the most enjoyable moments in wedding planning. And you might also want to do a make-up or hair trial to ensure you look exactly as you want to walk down the aisle. These trials may or may not come with a cost, though. Before booking any type of test run with vendors or wedding venues, double check if it’s free, included in the hiring costs, or a separate fee altogether. 

2. Gifts for your wedding team

Your close friends and family have probably been a big part of your wedding journey. It’s nice to offer a token of your appreciation for all of their time and support. It’s usually customary to give a gift to your wedding party members, who’ve been your team since long before you made it to the altar. And in some instances, couples welcome their new in-laws into their family with a gift. Since being thoughtful is key here, you may be able to find a good deal if you leave enough time to plan ahead. 

3. Wedding day accessories

A lot of couples prioritize their wedding outfits in their spending. But sometimes it’s easy to forget about all the accessories that tie everything together. From the tiara atop your perfect wedding day hairdo, to the pocket square in your suit jacket, these fashion flourishes can also add up unexpectedly. Don’t forget, though, that whole “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” tradition can help cover some of these items.

4. Venue service fees

In many cases, a lot of the details involved in making a wedding go off without a hitch fall on the venue. In addition to an event space, they may also be providing services from catering to sound and lighting. And because of that, the hidden service fees can stack up quite a bit. 

If you use outside wedding vendors for things like food and beverages, you could encounter cake cutting or corkage fees. You may also have to cover costs such as vendor meals or overtime, if the venue is providing any kind of staff. And some venues also include cleaning or teardown fees for the end of the night. Your due diligence with wedding venues will likely matter the most when it comes to preventing hidden fees from hitting your budget. Be sure to ask what’s included when talking to any venue.

5. Equipment and rentals

With any big event, you’ll need some tech and other gear to pull it off. Weddings are certainly no exception. Whether it’s a DJ or full band, you’ll need sound equipment to get everyone on the dance floor at the reception. If there’s no natural light available, you may want to invest in specialized lighting for candid photos that dazzle. Depending on your venue, you may also need to rent chairs and tableware. And if the party is happening outdoors, you may also want to invest in tents in case of inclement weather. Those can all add up.

6. Official documentation 

When dreaming of your big day, you probably weren’t thinking of how much paperwork would be involved. But planning ahead here can save you hassle later. Some of these things will be non negotiable, like your marriage license — which luckily may only be a double digit cost. And if you’ve decided to wed somewhere like a national park, you may need to plan for permit fees. 

But if say, you want to make sure you’ve got wedding insurance coverage, you may be able to see if your venue has you covered. 

7. Transportation

Getting back and forth from the venue is one thing that’s particularly easy to slip your mind in all the hustle and bustle of planning. Everything you need for your wedding day needs a way to get to the venue. If you’re able to provide guest transport, that can be a lovely gesture that’s worth accounting for in your wedding finances. But if your rental equipment is costing you extra for the ride to the reception hall, see if that’s a cost you can cut. And of course, don’t forget to make room transportation costs for getting the most important thing to the wedding – you.

8. Post wedding costs

The list of costs doesn’t necessarily end once you’ve said “I do.” There are a few other items you don’t want to forget to budget for after the wedding is over. From your wedding night hotel room, to printing your beautiful wedding photos, make sure to plan for all of the little wrap up details. 

How to plan for hidden wedding costs

If you give yourself plenty of time to allocate funds to each element of your wedding, it can be easier to find spending shortcuts here and there. Here are some tips that can help you avoid overspending on your dream wedding. 

Be thorough 

The more organized you are, the easier it’ll be to spot hidden fees and research the best deals. Set realistic parameters early on, with a good system for tracking expenses. This can make it easier to adjust if you encounter a hidden fee and need some wiggle room.

You can also keep everything together with a detailed wedding checklist, especially for small things that are easy to forget, like tips for delivery drivers. If you’re the type that loves spreadsheets, that might help you visualize all of your potential vendors and compare where you’re getting the best value. And of course before you sign anything, read all of your contracts carefully. 

Stay local

The less distance your vendors have to travel, the less hidden transportation costs you’ll have to worry about. And Southern California is full of tons of great local vendors that can help you create a magical fairy tale experience. 

Ask your vendors

One of the easiest ways to avoid hidden fees is simply to ask about everything up front. (This is where that checklist can really come in handy.) And asking questions is a great way to suss out which vendors are clear about their total fees. A vendor that wants you to have the best wedding experience will understand if you’ve got budget-related questions. 

Prioritize what matters most to you

Figuring out the things that aren’t as important can give you room to save on the big dream items. If you’ve got your heart set on holding a bouquet of pricey peonies, spending less on rentals can free up room in your flower allotment. It’s all about figuring out where to make smart swaps on the details that aren’t as meaningful to you and your spouse-to-be.

Hire event planners

You may be surprised to find out that event planners can actually be a huge money saver. With their expertise and industry knowledge, they can get the inside scoop on what works best. And they can also save you a ton in time and stress — a priceless wedding gift on its own. Trademark Venues offer experienced event planners who help you at every step of your wedding planning journey.

Choose a wedding venue that offers transparency

You deserve to make your wedding day vision come true at any price. No matter how much you want to invest in your dream day, knowing how to spot hidden costs can help you save. And that can make a big difference when you want to go all out on the important things. Finding a venue that’s up front about all of their fees is one of the best ways to avoid overspending. Trademark’s unique wedding venues are committed to making sure couples are clear on all of the costs. Our beautiful outdoor venues also feature wedding packages that include services such as catering, bar, and planning assistance, to help you save. With Trademark, we handcraft the perfect wedding at your perfect price.