Budgeting for your big day is one of the least romantic aspects of wedding planning (that is, until you get to the seating chart), and it can also be one of the most stressful. Weddings are not only a significant expense — the average wedding in 2012 was nearly $28,500, according a survey by The Knot — but they are also tricky to budget for, considering nearly a third of all couples spend more than they planned. Stay on track by doing some serious upfront accounting, including these five often-overlooked — but important! — items.
1. Vendor Meals
You know that 12-piece band you just hired? Well, not only do you need to pay for them to play amazing music, you also have to pay for them to eat — along with the rest of the vendors who will be present at your reception. That can include the photographer, videographer, any assistants they bring, and even your wedding planner (check their contracts to find out). While they typically won't be dining on the filet mignon with the rest of your guests, they will need some sort of meal to keep them going throughout the evening. Be sure to ask your caterer what they prepare and charge for vendor meals, and then multiply that by vendors present at the reception.
2. Tips & Taxes
Tax and gratuity are a huge expense that most couples don’t consider up front. Unless you are getting married in one of the five states with no sales tax (Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, or Oregon), many of your vendors will need to charge you tax on the services they provide. Comb every contract to see if the price quote includes tax; if it doesn’t, find out your state’s rate — it can be as high as 7.5 percent, if you live in California — and do the math. While you are at it, factor in the gratuity if they haven’t for you (check out this wedding tips guide provided by Real Simple), which can range anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, depending on the vendor. You’ll also want to plan on having some extra cash on hand on the wedding day to dish out to those people who go above and beyond.
3. Hotel Blocks
Even if you are not having a destination wedding, you are most likely planning on providing a hotel room block near the reception site for your guests for the night of the wedding. But most brides and grooms don't anticipate these blocks adding any cost to their overall budget. When booking a block at a hotel, be sure to ask about any attrition penalties — that is, if you block off 20 rooms and your guests only book 10, you could be responsible for paying for the remaining 10, depending on the hotel's policy. Since this could potentially add hundreds (or even thousands) to your bottom line, it is best to plan for the worst-case scenario ahead of time.
You will certainly receive plenty of gifts as bride and groom, but what you probably haven't thought of is how many gifts you'll be doling out around the big day. Welcome bags for your guests, thank you gifts for your parents and wedding party, and a present for you soon-to-be spouse can — and will — add up quickly. Make a list of who you'll be buying for early on, and set a budget for what you are willing to spend to avoid a last-minute cash crunch.
5. Postage & Permits
Don't forget about the government when ironing out your wedding financials: You may need to earmark a part of your budget for the post office and local or national parks departments. The size and weight of your save-the-dates and invitations will determine if your postage will exceed the standard 49 cents, plus don’t forget to account for response envelopes. And if you are planning on having your ceremony or taking pictures in any sort of park or landmark area, be sure to check to see if it requires a permit. These can run up to several hundred dollars: Hosting your ceremony at Brooklyn Bridge Park, for instance, will set you back $425, and Gantry Plaza in Queens costs up to $1,600, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you are dead-set on a particular location, check out the permit situation and factor in its associated costs.
These five items are easy to miss when you're making your wedding budget, especially behind big-ticket items like the caterer, photographer and band. But factoring them in early will help save you a major financial headache down the line and let you focus on what's important — marrying your perfect match.