When you were little and dreamed about your big day, there’s a good chance you never considered all the budgeting that goes into wedding planning.  Now that you’re all grown up and planning your dream wedding, the financial reality of has set in and you’ve probably realized by now that weddings ain’t cheap!

While there’s no doubt you’ve budgeted for venue, reception entertainment, what you’ll wear, food, and flowers, even the most organized of brides and grooms may not account for everything. Here are ten common under-the-radar expenses that are often forgotten about – and they can seriously add up!

Marriage License

By now you know you need a license to make your nuptials official, but have you accounted for the cost in your wedding budget? The cost for a marriage license varies by state and ranges from as little as $15 to as much as $100. And if you’re having a destination wedding, make sure to check the waiting period required to issue a license in the destination, as you may need to factor in extra travel costs to your overall budget.


You knew you needed to account for pricing out your invitations, but you’ll also need to make sure you have budget set aside for postage – and depending on how much your invites weigh, you may have to pay as much as a dollar per invite in postage fees! Combine that with the additional cost of save the dates, RSVP cards, and thank you cards, weddings may be single-handedly keeping the United States Postal Service afloat.


Unless you happen to be the exact size and proportion of the dress sample size, your wedding dress is going to need some alterations. And for grooms, tuxes and suits are also going to require a least a little bit of alteration to ensure that it’s the perfect fit.  Dress alterations alone can cost upwards of $400 – so make sure you’re including any dress/suit alterations in your overall fashion budget.

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

Planning a getaway with all of your closest friends before your big day? Those ‘gram worthy pics are going to come at a cost.  If you and your spouse-to-be are planning out of state bachelor and bachelorette bashes, don’t rely on your bridesmaids and groomsmen to pick up the tab for everything.  Be prepared to at least throw down some cash for the cost of travel.

Beauty Preparations

You’ve accounted for your day-of beauty prep, including hair and makeup – but what about other pre-wedding prep? Some brides (and grooms) opt to get facials, manicures, skin treatments, massages, and other indulgences in the lead up to their big day. If a pre-wedding spa day sounds like the perfect way to get wedding ready for the first day of the rest of your life, make sure you add those expenses to your budget.

Hotel Rooms

You may have organized hotel blocks for your guests, but don’t forget that you need a room, too! You’ll want space to get ready before the ceremony and to ensure you aren’t held up by check-in and check-out times, you’ll probably want to book a room for at least two nights (the day before your wedding and the day after).  Plus, after the wedding and after-party, you will be utterly exhausted and will want – nay, need – to crash in a nice hotel bed.

Vendor Meals

You carefully selected your photographer, officiant, and reception entertainment – but did you remember that you have to feed them, too? In addition to everyone you know and love, your vendors will be spending hours on end at your wedding, making sure it’s everything you dreamed it’d be.  Caterers often charge a reduced fee for vendor plates, but you’ll need to let them know ahead of time how many to set aside.


Most vendor contracts include tax, but many do not include tips or gratuity. Don’t be surprised that you may have to put aside over $1,000 in cash for tips – you’ll need to tip your DJ, bartenders, officiant, makeup artist, hair stylist, attendants, servers, and transportation. Tip amounts vary, but here is a handy tip guide to help you budget.

Guest Transportation

It’s not a must, but these days, many couples opt to provide some sort of transportation from the hotel to the venue for their out-of-town guests – especially when the wedding takes place outside a city with public transportation.

Thank You Gifts and Welcome Bags

Your wedding day is all about you – but it’s also important for you to show gratitude to the important people in your life that have put aside time, money, and travel expenses to make sure they’re a part of your big day.  For your wedding party, set aside a budget to cover a gift for each bridesmaid or groomsman.  You’ll also want to give a thank you gift to your parents (especially if they are paying for a portion of the wedding), ring bearer, flower girl, and officiant (if it’s a close friend).  And if you’re having a destination wedding or if many of your guests are traveling from out of town, welcome bags are a lovely way of showing your appreciation.