Creating—and sticking to—a budget is the best way to make sure your wedding doesn’t cost more than you can afford, but how do you budget for those hidden, forgotten, or unexpected costs that pop up at the last minute? In amongst the big-ticket items like the dress of your dreams, and your perfectly-planned reception, there are dozens of smaller costs that seem insignificant, but can collectively use up a big chunk of your budget. Your best bet is to make sure your budget is both realistic and thorough, by accounting not only for unexpected costs, but also for the areas where you know you’re likely to spend more than you planned.
Wedding Expenses That Everyone Forgets to Remember
You can plan your budget to the nth degree, but when you have so much to plan and think about, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that you’ll forget at least a couple of things.
- Some of the most common “forgotten costs” include organizational expenses like the registration costs for your marriage, postage for save the date, invitation, and thank you cards, and the costs associated with printing photos, and getting them framed or put into albums.
- You’ve budgeted for your dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses, and tuxes for the groom and groomsmen, but it’s also important to include an extra sum for any alterations that might be necessary, not only for the clothes themselves, but also for accessories like shoes, hair adornments, and jewelry.
- Vendors often end up costing more than you planned (and more than they quoted) for a variety of reasons—delivery fees, tax, overtime charges, cleaning charges, service fees, and corkage, for example, can also be tacked onto your bill, not to mention tips, if appropriate, for servers, bartender, or DJ.
- Unexpected last-minute guests who must be included in the reception might also increase the price, and believe it or not, it’s also extremely common to forget to include the bridge and groom in the reception head count!
Tips for Creating a Budget that Works
- When you start working out your wedding budget, one of the most useful tools to have in your kit is a friend who has recently married—someone who knows first-hand about last minute expenses, who can give you practical advice about where unexpected costs are likely to come from. Other invaluable resources typically include magazines, websites, and vendor quotes, all of which you’ll likely end up comparing exhaustively and repetitively before you make your final choices.
- To create a rough budget, work out exactly how much you have to spend, and then start portioning the total amount amongst the various different aspects of the wedding. At this point, you’ll have to decide on the things you absolutely must have, versus where you’re willing to make compromises for the sake of sticking to the budget. Try and be as comprehensive as possible when you’re detailing each aspect of the budget, and refer often to your resources to make sure you account for everything.
- Obviously, it’s not enough to create a budget: you also have to stick to it, and that’s the hardest part. It’s helpful to draw up a spreadsheet to keep track of how much you’re spending, and on what. If you keep detailed records of what you spend, you can easily see where you’re overspending and adjust your budget on the fly to make sure you stick to it. Likewise, if you spend less than you allowed for in one area, you then know you can afford to put a little extra somewhere else.