Just when you thought you’d listed every possible expense in your wedding budget, along comes a cost or two you hadn’t accounted for. To eliminate any more surprises, take a look at some expenses that brides typically forget — or don’t even realize they needed to budget for!

Dress alterations

At your first fitting, you could be hit with a big bill for any alterations needed to make your dress fit perfect, including hemming the skirt or reworking the corset.

Typical cost: Prices vary from about $75 to $250 per alteration.


A wedding dress requires special lingerie — you may need a pushup bra or shapewear to smooth everything out so that the dress falls right.

Typical cost: Expect to pay $30 to $90 per undergarment.

Hair and makeup trials

It’s a good idea to figure out your wedding-day hair and makeup early on. “I suggest doing trials three months before the wedding when you’ve had some time to think about your wedding-day aesthetic and can work out any potential kinks with your artist,” says Morgan Miller, of Spreading Lovely, a wedding planning firm.

Typical cost: It depends on where you live. Prices could be as low as $65 to as high as $400.

Vendor tips

While tips aren’t obligatory, they’re a nice gesture if you were happy with the vendor’s service.

Read over each contract since a tip may already be included.

Typical cost: According to Martha Stewart Weddings, give the banquet manager 15 to 20 percent of the catering bill to be shared with the catering staff. Same goes for the limo driver. Musicians get $20 to $25 each, the DJ $25. The photographer and florist each get $30 to $50. Give delivery people $5 each, the valet, $1 to $1.50 per car.

Non-invitation stationery

A wedding invitation suite usually comes with an invitation, reply and reception cards, and inner and outer envelopes. What it doesn’t come with: thank-you cards, save the dates, direction cards, menus and escort cards.

Typical cost: “Budget approximately two to three dollars for each item,” advises Cassie Celestin, of White Dress Events. “The cost will increase if your design is detailed, handwritten, letterpress or uses a premium paper.”


Mailing wedding invitations adds up. If you put a stamp on the reply cards, it’ll be twice as expensive.

Typical cost: Prices range from 49 cents for a first-class standard-sized envelope weighing one ounce to $1.12 for a three-ounce first-class odd-sized envelope.

Sales tax and service charges

The per-person price of a catered meal doesn’t include the sales tax or service charge.

Typical cost: It depends on where you live. At the Omni Chicago, you’ll be charged a 10.5 percent sales tax and 23 percent service charge; at Los Encinos Texas Hill Country Estate in San Antonio, the sales tax is 6.75 percent and the service charge is 18 percent.

Corkage fee

This is what caterers charge if you don’t buy liquor from their establishment but bring it in yourself.

Typical cost: Most venues charge between $15 and $35 per bottle.

Vendor meals

You need to feed the band, photographer, wedding planner and anyone else working your wedding on-site.

Typical cost: If you’re not serving them the same meal as your guests, expect to pay between $20 and $70 per boxed meal.


If you’re having an outdoor evening reception, you may need to install lights, from string lights on trees and poles to café or bistro lights inside a tent, says Celestin. To brighten tables, you may need lanterns or large hurricanes with candles.

Typical cost: According to Celestin, the average cost of a lighting designer is $1,200 to $2,500.

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