1. Wedding Band Equipment
Why it’s hidden The cost of the wedding band includes fees for the musicians’ time and the minimum amount of equipment needed. If your reception space is extra-large, then additional speakers and microphones could possibly be required to project the best sound quality.
The cost Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars
How to avoid it Before booking your wedding band or DJ, you need to clearly explain the layout of the space (or have them check it out, if they’re willing) so the suppliers know exactly what they’re working with. If they want to add in extra equipment, you should have them explain why it’s necessary before you sign a contract or agree to pay for anything else.
2. Postage Stamps
Why it’s hidden Stationers don’t advertise the postage costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler (read: cheaper) invites.
The cost Oversized, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often run you more than $2 each to mail.
How to avoid it Skip the fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, which can bulk up quickly and cost a lot more than you bargained for.
3. Wedding Dress Alterations and Steaming
Why it’s hidden Most stores don’t include alterations (or steaming!) in the price of the wedding dress, and they’re not doing it for free — it can take up to three hours just to alter the bustier!
The cost A simple hem can be less than $100, but completely rebuilding a bodice or moving zippers can send the price upward of $500.
How to avoid it Ask about what the store charges for every alteration you may need before you purchase the gown.
4. Overtime Costs
Why it’s hidden Your band, DJ, wedding photographer and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, they’ll charge per hour.
The cost Starting at $250 per hour
How to avoid it Factor in additional time for getting dressed and taking photos; that way, you can book your vendors for a more realistic timeline. Get overtime costs in writing (they shouldn’t be more than 50 percent more per hour than the regular rate) so you’ll know what to expect if you decide to keep the party going.
5. Welcome-Bag Delivery
Why it’s hidden Most hotels don’t factor in a welcome-bag delivery fee when you book rooms. And they may fail to mention the rate unless you ask — they’ll just add it to your final bill. Inquire within; they may even charge you a fee for holding the welcome bags if you drop them off before the guests arrive!
The cost Up to $7 per bag
How to avoid it During the booking process, ask about the hotel’s policy on receiving and delivering welcome bags to guests’ rooms. It may be free or cheaper if they hand the bags out at the counter as guests check in. If you don’t want the extra charge, you can distribute them at the rehearsal dinner.
6. Rental Transport
Why it’s hidden You’d assume that the rental companies would include these extra fees in the per-item costs (do they honestly think you’re going to fit 150 chiavari chairs in your own car?), but surprisingly, they don’t.
The cost From $50 up to more than $500
How to avoid it Ask the rental company what their delivery and packaging fees are up front — if the cost is too high for your budget, shop around a bit. You just might find that you’ll actually save some money by renting items from a more expensive company that includes delivery costs at no extra charge.
7. Cake-Cutting and Corkage Fees
Why it’s hidden If you use the cake or booze provided by your reception site, the charge is typically wrapped into the cost. Going with an outside supplier can raise the price. Why? Because your venue’s workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes. This means more work for their staff!
The cost From around $2 to $5 per guest for the cake; from $1.50 to $3 for every bottle the venue opens
How to avoid it Calculate the cake-cutting and corkage fees before you decide to go with an outside source for either.
8. Cleanup and Breakdown Costs
Why it’s hidden Many brides spend so much time planning the actual day that they forget to budget for what happens when it’s all over.
The cost While a full-service venue won’t charge for these things, if you’re paying a flat fee to rent the space only, anticipate fees for garbage removal and cleaning that could be up to $500. And even most full-service venues require same-day setup and cleanup. So if you’re getting married on a weekend or a public holiday check if there are any extra staff fees involved. And if your party goes into the wee hours of the morning, you may face extra charges for late-night pickup and cleanup.
How to avoid it Read your contract carefully — the setup and breakdown and any extra costs should be included.
9. Non-Approved Suppliers
Why it’s hidden Some suppliers require you to use caterers or florists from their preferred vendor list — and tack on a fee if you don’t.
The cost Usually an extra 20 percent or more
How to avoid it Stick to the list, or choose a venue without one.
Special thanks to Lindsay Landman, event designer; Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, wedding expert and founder of RSVP Soiree Luxury Event Rentals; and Marcy Blum, event planner and founder of Marcy Blum Associates
by Tia Albright