Here’s the thing… even with a detailed wedding budget, there can be unexpected wedding expenses that can cost you hundreds. And, we all know hundreds can quickly add up to thousands. The last thing you want is to find out about these unexpected costs during your final wedding countdown.

Now, before we dive into ten unexpected wedding expenses I highly recommend as you map out your wedding budget that you factor in a 5% buffer.

For example, if your wedding budget is $25,000, your 5% buffer would be $1250. If you’re wedding budget is $50,000, your 5% buffer would be $2500. If you’re wedding budget is $75,000, your 5% buffer would be $3750 and so on.

The reason I recommend having this buffer factored into your budget is because no wedding is alike. So while, I can give you the ten most common unexpected wedding expenses, this doesn’t mean I won’t miss one or two based off your overall wants/needs for your wedding day. By having this 5% buffer, you’re able to automatically have a security blanket of funds if something pops-up. And, of course, if you don’t have to utilize your budget buffer then go you! This means you came in under your wedding budget!

10 Unexpected Wedding Expenses

Jenny Martin Photo

01. Vendor Meals

Don’t forget to include your vendors in your final meal count. In fact, some vendors have it stated in their contract that they must be provided a meal during your wedding. A rule of thumb here is to provide a meal to any vendor that is on-site during your reception. For example, vendors that could potentially be on-site during your reception are: DJ, band talent, videographer, photographer, planner, photobooth attendant, live wedding painter, and babysitter. Also, don’t forget your vendors may have a team member present with them the day-of too to assist them.

When it comes to feeding your vendors, you don’t technically have to ask them about dietary restrictions. But, if you’re having a plated meal and going to provide them their choice of entree, it’s courtesy to confirm. The reason you don’t have to ask is because vendors who have dietary restrictions are already bringing their own snacks to carry them through the night out of habit. There are some talents that will require you to accomodate dietary restrictions. This, however, will be outlined in their contract if so.

Another quick note here… If you’re serving a 5-course-plated meal, it’s okay to provide vendors with just a salad and main entree. Or, we’ve even had pizza delivered or Chick-fil-A delivered for the vendor team and that was perfect. Just be considerate when it comes to dinnertime. You don’t want weary vendors because their stomachs are growling.

P.S. Your catering staff will usually bring enough portions for there team. So, you don’t have to include them in your final count.

03. Taxes, Gratuities, and Security Fees

• Sales tax is something that is super familiar in our everyday lives, but it is easy to forget about when planning a wedding.

When you’re browsing photographer and videographer pricing, know the pricing often doesn’t include sales tax and by law, they are required to add tax because they are delivering a final product. So when you get your contract with your proposed total don’t be alarmed if the number is roughly 9% higher than the original number on the PDF pricing guide.

Please note your photographers, videographers, and other flat rate vendors that deliver a final product are not trying to be sneaking by not showing you that sales tax. Most will share this on your consultation call or it’s noted in their pricing guide.

• Gratuities are another one of these hidden expenses that can add up the week of your wedding when finalizing tips.

There are particular vendors that you should out of courtesy tip which are your bartenders, catering and/or wait staff, and hair and makeup artist. There are some vendors that will include gratuity into their final balance due such as country clubs and distillery’s. So make sure before you tip that you haven’t already done so within your quote.

You do not have to tip every single vendor and vendors never ever expect to receive a tip. But if you do feel like a vendor truly went above and beyond and you want to show them a little love, they are never going to turn down the nice gesture. Also, remember that glowing 5-star reviews on Google and Facebook go along way too with your vendors and is often one of the best gifts a vendor can receive after your wedding day. (But seriously, we do a little happy dance.)

Sometimes it can be tricky knowing how much to tip (or if you even need to!). KGW provides all our couples with a tipping guide as an easy reference to navigate this topic further.

Lastly on this point…

• Security fees are another potential expense.

If you’re serving alcohol at your wedding, you can almost guarantee that you’ll be required to have security on-site for a minimum of 4 hours. Venues often require this for everyones safety. And, trust me, at KGW we’ve seen security come in handy – for example, stopping someone from driving home completely wasted on a dark windy backroad in Arkansas. Security is typically $50-$75 per hour with a 4-hour minimum. Trust us, it’s worth it.

03. Insurance

Wedding insurance can protect you in case of a wedding cancellation or wedding liability issue. For example, if you have to cancel your wedding due a medical emergency, depending on your insurance coverage, you may able to replan without the hassle of more expenses for having to move dates. Or, if your best man decides to have a literal “mic drop” after his toast and breaks the DJ’s microphone, well… let’s just say you’ll be grateful for that wedding insurance to help cover the replacement mic.

Wedding insurance is not always required, but it’s just a good idea to have it. The coverage and cost vary, but typically it’s only a a couple of hundred dollars. And, in the scheme of things, that’s well-worth your investment.

If you do want to look into wedding insurance, KGW highly recommends Angie Davis with Timberline Insurance. Angie actually was a key player in the Arkansas wedding industry before hanging up her camera bag so she truly understands your wedding insurance needs.

04. After Hours Delivery & Pickup Charges or Extended Setup

Depending on your vendors, some wedding pros do have a delivery charge for after hour dropoff and pickup. These charges are never extreme, but can add up quick if needing every vendor that is delivering a wedding good (i.e. rentals, florists, cake, draping, etc.) outside of a normal work timeframe.

Or, you may need an extra day for setting up your wedding and an extra day for teardown if doing an extensive wedding design. For example, if you’re having draping in the reception, you can’t set tables and chairs until after this install is complete. Therefore this may need to happen Friday so that you (or your venue) can ensure the tables and chairs are set for your Saturday event. Then, the install team will either have to charge a late pickup fee or return on Sunday/Monday to remove the draping.

So many logistics, right???

Streling Imageworks

05. Pre Wedding Day Event Attire

The bridal shower, engagement party, welcome party, rehearsal dinner, the bachelorette party- there are so many reasons you, or your partner, might want a new outfit. And, we don’t blame you! Wedding-related events are definitely a great excuse for a new addition to your closet, but plan these out in advance if they’ll need to be factored into your actual wedding day budget.

06. Postage for Save the Dates & Invitations

The current going rate as of 2023 for a forever stamp is $0.63. Now, let’s do the math…

$0.63 x 200 = $126.00

Those postage stamps aren’t going to be cheap. Plus, postage may cost you more based on the weight of your mailing. I highly recommend that as soon as you have your invitation suite finalized, taking it to your local post office to go ahead and confirm how much your postage per invite will bee.

07. Hotel Accommodations & Travel Expenses

If you’re having your wedding out of town, include your hotel accommodations and travel expenses such as flights or gas expenses in your total budget. Call your preferred hotel and ask them about a wedding room block for yourself and guests to secure the best rates. Room blocks on average, start with 10 rooms per block.

08. Gifts for Your Host/Hostess & Your Wedding Party

For anyone who throws you a wedding shower, it’s a nice gesture to gift them with a little something as a token of your appreciation. Whether that be a bottle of their favorite wine, tickets to a local play, or their favorite candle, make sure to thank them with a sweet little surprise.

If you want to gift your wedding party with fun socks, tote bags, personalized tumblers, etc. know these gifts can add up just as quick as postage! If you spend $50 per bridesmaids or groomsmen and you have a total of 8 each, you just spent $800.

09. Hair and Makeup Trial (and your bridal portrait bouquet!)

When booking hair and makeup for your wedding, a trial run is often not included. However, many brides want a trail run and we totally understand! Know the price for a trial run is sometimes discounted, but more times than not, it’s the same full rate.

A trial run provides you with the opportunity to see how your makeup lasts and your hair holds up for an extended period of time. Plus, you can do a trial run when you do your bridals so you can see your complete wedding look.

And, speaking of bridals, you’ll also need to budget for your bridal portrait bouquet. This is usually the same cost of your actual wedding day bouquet as it will be the closest replica as it can be to your day-of bouquet.

10. Transportation

If you’re having a destination wedding, consider providing transportation for your guests from the hotel to your wedding. This is not not a must, but is a kind gesture. If you know that your venue doesn’t have the best parking situation, transportation is also something you may want to consider.

Two examples here… Hot Springs is a destination city for a lot of our couples because of Anthony Chapel. However, depending on the time of year, Anthony Chapel can be busy. Providing a shuttle that can drop guests off, pick them up, and help them travel to your reception is convenient.

The last example is if you’re having your wedding at a private residence where you know parking isn’t available. You can have your guests meet at a designated parking location. From there you can shuttle guests to and from the ceremony and reception.

When providing transportation, it’s always good to consider two pickup times for the reception – an early pickup and a later pickup. This allows for those who don’t want to dance all night the opportunity to stay for the traditions of your reception, but jet out before the clock strikes midnight.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in your getaway car if not using a personal vehicle. And, definitely don’t forget to factor your ride to the airport for your honeeymoon unless you already have a designated person to take y’all.

When planning your wedding, some costs can just completely surprise you.

My best advice is to create that 5% buffer in your budget so you’re not having to find additional funds for those unexpected wedding expenses. Reference this list and read your contracts! Make sure you always know exactly what is included in your selected package with vendors. This will also help eliminate any costs that weren’t originally accounted for. 

Need help with outlining a proposed wedding budget? KGW includes realistic budget guidance with a mapped out spreadsheet within our Full Planning and Design Development packages.

We hope you found this book of a blog post helpful!

Cover Image by Kayleigh Ross Photography