How to Avoid Hidden Wedding Expenses

It can be easy to go over budget but just as easy to avoid these and other pitfalls.  Here are some tips to help you stay on budget.

Do your research – Know what you need to get and what it will cost you.  Review checklists online, talk with brides on forums or buy a wedding planning book to help make a thorough budget.  Research questions to ask vendors.
Don’t assume – Do not assume the prices on anything.  Different stores, vendors and venues will have different fees and pricing.  The first caterer you talked to may only charge ten dollars to add a coat check but that doesn’t mean the second won’t charge $100. The alteration costs at one dress boutique may be a flat fee of $200 but that may only cover having the dress bustled at another dress shop.
Limit your impulse spending – Unless a sale is one day only, you really don’t need it right then. Take a picture of the item and think on it for 24 hours. If you still want the item, plug it into the wedding budget before you go to buy it.
Buy the big stuff first – It is easier to buy accessories and a veil based on a wedding dress than it is to find a wedding dress that is perfect and matches accessories.  Unless there is a family heirloom you absolutely must wear, buy the dress first.  Don’t get your heart set on any small details until the big things are chosen.  Your reception venue may not allow lit candle centerpieces and your ceremony venue ay no allow real rose petals scattered everywhere.
Keep receipts and be aware of return policies – Many bridal and wedding items are non refundable.  Some shops will let you exchange items before your wedding date.  If you want to buy an item to see if it goes with your dress or tablecloths be sure you can at least exchange the item for other merchandise. If at all possible bring the item you are trying to match into the store before you buy.
Use swatches and samples and pictures – Fabric swatches from your bridesmaids’ dresses can help you match accessories if you are buying them at a different location.  A sample of the vases you are using can help the person making your custom soy candles, making sure that the size you requested will fit correctly. Keep a picture of you in your wedding dress in your cell phone so you have it with you if you find the perfect veil.
Shop around – A veil at a bridal boutique may cost upwards of $200.  You can often find a similar veil on consignment, online or at a shop different from the one where you bought your dress for a better price. Snap some pictures and shop around.  The first photographer you meet may seem amazing but it doesn’t mean that he is the best one in your price range.  Always compare a few different vendors.  Even if you have your heart set on one, lower quotes from other vendors can help you negotiate price.
Leave a pillow – Do not squeeze a wedding budget for every last dollar.  Be sure to leave some money for any unplanned purchases and last minute changes and emergencies.
Make lists – Did you remember the cost of the makeup if your makeup artist doesn’t provide it? If you don’t normally wear makeup you may have to spend anything from $50 at a drug store to $300 or more at a specialty makeup boutique.  The cost of brushes and applicators can quickly add up as well.  Go through your wedding day step by step and list everything anyone involved will have to touch, use or wear for the wedding and surrounding events and be sure you have it covered to avoid a last minute purchase.
Be realistic – You may have your heart set on roses and gerbera daisies but your budget may not have room.  Work with your vendors and be flexible.  Maybe your florist can use just a few of your favorite blooms and fill in your arrangements with cheaper filler flowers.
Compensate for short falls – If you go $100 over on one item you have to find somewhere else to save it in the wedding budget.  Going over by little amounts can quickly add to a large budget shortfall so be sure to deduct the amount from another part of the budget.

Having a thorough and realistic budget with a spending and payment plan is crucial to planning a wedding.  Wedding planning is a multi-billion dollar industry and if it can be thought of it is sold to brides.  It is easy to get wrapped up in the magic and lose sight of the bottom line.  Stay on track and avoid these wedding budget pitfalls.

For more tips on which hidden wedding charges and costs to look for, look back to our previous post, Hidden Wedding Budget Pitfalls.