Your wedding budget: what’s missing?

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Many brides dream of their wedding day for years. The beautiful dress, the first dance, the music, the celebration of love–it’s easy to get lost in the romanticism of it all. But before you do, you need to work on a very unromantic wedding task: the budget. It may seem like a simple undertaking, but many services have hidden fees that can slip through the cracks until it’s time to pay the bill.

Creating a thorough budget can be tedious and frustrating, but if you ask the right questions and stay diligent about sticking to what you’ve agreed to, you’ll find yourself glad you put in so much work ahead of time. After all, who wants to spend their gift money paying for the wedding?

After you say yes to the dress, you’ll need to say yes to a seamstress. Most wedding dresses require at least a small number of alterations in order to get that perfect fit. Consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch says that, depending on how much work needs to be done, alterations can cost $500 or more. Plan ahead for these extra costs in your wedding dress budget and you won’t suffer from sticker shock later.

The dress may be beautiful, but you’ll still want some accessories to go with it, such as shoes to walk down the aisle in, some shiny jewelry to pull your look together, and even lingerie and shapewear for underneath.

Cake Cutting
You’re likely to incur fees if you want the servers to cut your wedding cake if it came from a different vendor from the one that’s supplying your service staff. According to expert planners, this adds extra time for the staff, who have to slice and serve each piece and then clean up the dishes, so expect anywhere from $2 to $5 per guest in fees.

If you’re going with a full-service venue that includes all fees and services in one charge, this is most likely already included in your wedding costs. But if you’ve simply rented a space for your reception, plan on spending around $500 for cleaning the venue and around $250 for garbage removal.

Hair and Makeup Trials
You want to be sure your wedding day look is perfection, and practice makes perfect, so plan on spending a little extra to have your hair and makeup professionals test drive some looks before the big day. Costs can vary depending on the service, and some professionals even include this in the wedding day fees, so ask your stylist about this when you book the services.

Photo Prints
You paid for the photographer to be there on the big day and capture the special moments on film, but be sure to set aside some money to print those beautiful wedding photos after all is said and done. Many photographers offer album packages, or you can print them on your own to save some money.

You likely budgeted for your save-the-dates and invitations, but did you plan for the cost of getting them to their destination? “Oversized and awkwardly-shaped invites can cost up you to $2 a piece to mail,” Woroch says. “Skip the fancy boxed invitations and bulky, multilayer cards to keep postage costs down.”

Rental Shipping
There are countless wedding warehouses that rent out almost anything you could need for a wedding, from chairs, to linens, to flatware, but they often don’t include shipping and transportation costs in their per-item rental fees. Be sure to ask about these fees up front so you’re not surprised later.

You probably already have agreed upon the costs for the services your wedding vendors provide, but many people are unaware of how much they should tip these vendors, or if they should even tip at all! If your vendor is also the owner of the business, you’re generally not expected to tip; but if that’s not the case, five to ten percent of your overall budget should be reserved for gratuities for your DJ, transportation driver, servers and bartenders, hair and makeup artists, officiant, musicians during the ceremony and band.

Taxes and Fees
If your vendors include sales tax in the service quote, you’re in luck. Be aware that not all of them do, and be sure to factor this into your overall budget. Keep in mind that there are often fees for paying with a credit card that the vendor will tack on to your bill as well.

Budgeting for your wedding can be a stressful process, but if you do your research ahead of time, you’ll have far fewer surprises at the end of the day. When it comes to your big day, it’s better to be a fiscally responsible fiancée than a bankrupt bride. HLM

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