9 Unexpected Expenses of Getting Married

Expensive Wedding

Getting married is expensive and many couples find that they aren’t always sure where all of the money went when they do the final tally, after the honeymoon is over. If you’re on a tight budget or just like to know exactly where your money is going to go, even if you’re not on a tight budget, here are nine of the most common unexpected expenses of getting married and how you can offset some of them, if you are trying to save money.

1. The marriage license.

Unless you’ve been married before, you probably aren’t expecting to pay for a marriage license until you’re actually standing in the court building trying to get it. If you’re not prepared to pay right then and there, you might have a delay in getting the license, which could mean a delay in the wedding itself (if you’ve waited until the day before to get it). Most states charge in between $50 and $100 to get your marriage license. While it may not be an expected expense, if you want to be legally married, it is a necessary one.

2. Tipping your vendors.

It’s extremely important to tip the people that come out to work your wedding—and not just the caterers themselves, but the servers and the table bussers. The people who need to be tipped will vary from wedding to wedding and from vendor to vendor, as some will readily accept tips, while others will refuse to take money from a bride or groom on her or his wedding day. Most often the driver that gets you to the church, the DJ, the caterer, the photographer, and any rental companies you work with should be tipped. If you had a church wedding and paid for the priest’s time, it might be a nice idea to tip him or stuff a twenty in the donation box.

3. Alterations to your dress.

The dress that you pick out at the store is rarely going to be the perfect fit, even if you choose a design that has a lace-up back. Especially if you go the cheapest route and buy a wedding dress from eBay or your local thrift store, you are going to have to pay a little extra to get that dress altered properly. It might be something as simple as bringing up the hem a few inches, or you might want to change the silhouette of the dress. Whether it’s just putting on some cap sleeves or making a matching cape to keep you warm, be prepared to pay not just the price of the dress, but extra for alterations, too. Buying a dress with a lace-up back that can be cinched for the perfect fit is usually the best way to avoid any alterations that might need to be made.

4. Postage for your invitations.

If you’re sending out paper invitations, which most couples still do, you need to consider postage for those invites, especially if you’re going to be sending hundreds of letters. If postage still costs $0.44 when you send your invitations, even just sending a single hundred invites and announcements will cost $44. If you’re sending out only a hundred invites, but four hundred announcements to friends and family members, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars just in postage. Again, this is a necessary expense, and not one that you can offset unless you’re willing to just send out e-vites.

5. Favors for your guests.

A surprisingly high number of couples forget this expense when planning their weddings. While favors don’t have to be expensive, getting enough favors for everyone who attends your wedding can really rack up. Instead of giving each guest a personalized little box, try incorporating the wedding favors into another aspect of your wedding. For example, if you have a photo booth at your reception, a stack of funny photos can be a great wedding favor, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

6. Beauty treatments.

If a bride wants to have her hair professionally dyed and a spray tan applied before the wedding, getting all of the beauty treatments the bride wants done can start to add up. This ranges from a manicure and pedicure to a massage to a spray tan. If these treatments are essential for getting the bride ready for her big day, it might be a good idea to look for Groupons or spas offering pre-wedding specials to brides.

7. A place to get ready.

Unless your venue has a bridal area, you might find yourself renting a hotel room for the morning before the wedding, in order to give yourself a nice, quiet space to prepare to get ready. This is a cost that few couples remember to factor into their overall budget, and for a suite that’s large enough for hair and makeup, as well as getting dressed with all of your bridesmaids, you might need to get a suite.

8. Eating before and after the wedding.

It’s imperative to eat before the wedding and crucial to get something to eat even after it’s over, especially because many couples find that they don’t have enough time to eat during the reception as they’re greeting guests, dancing, and cutting the cake. Even if you just send the maid of honor or best man out to the nearest drive-thru, this is a cost to consider.

9. Veil, jewelry, and shoes.

The wedding dress is often considered the most important piece of clothing a woman will ever buy, so much so that many brides forget that they also need to buy a veil, jewelry, and shoes to go along with that wedding dress. Sometimes picking a less expensive dress, in order to allow for the other parts of the wardrobe, is a good way to cut overall costs.

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