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Beware! These hidden costs can bust your budget

February 24, 2013
By SHAUNNA DUNDER HERSHBERGER - Lifestyles Editor ( , Times Leader

You can plan your wedding down to the penny and still find yourself derailed by hidden costs not accounted for in your original budget. Beware of some of these most common hidden wedding costs:

1. Postage

Those invitations, save-the-dates, and thank you notes won't send themselves, you know. Keep in mind that you will spend double for postage on your invitations when you include a stamped card for the guest to mail back the RSVP. At 46 cents a stamp, if you send out 150 invitations, you're already looking at about $140 in postage costs. But beware! If your invitation is an odd size or weighs more than a standard one-ounce letter, you will have to pay more postage per piece. To help save postage costs, consider making the response card a postcard - postage is cheaper at 33 cents - and go with a standard size invitation.

2. Tips

You usually don't have to worry about tipping the food servers, as that is usually included in your catering bill, although you will want to confirm this. However, you probably want to tip your hair and makeup artist, your photographer, your DJ or band, your minister and church musicians, your limo driver and anyone else you think deserves it. According to the popular wedding planning site, tips should be about 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of service, depending on the quality of service received.

3. Transportation

Typically, the wedding party will need a way from the church to the reception site (usually stopping off at another location for photos along the way), and many couples don't take this cost into consideration until well into their planning. Limos can cost around $500 or $600, depending on how many hours their services are required.

4. Alterations

When most brides shell out hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on the gown of their dreams, most don't stop to think about the cost of making it absolutely perfect. Raising the hemline isn't a huge cost by itself, but once you start getting into adding or removing zippers, altering the bodice or adding something special, like hooks or lace inserts, costs can rocket into the hundreds of dollars. And don't forget the cost of steaming the dress! A bride should ask the store what alterations will be necessary and approximately how much they will cost her before purchasing the dress.

5. Overtime

You're having a blast and don't want the party to end. Don't let your pocketbook suffer. Keep in mind that you're booking your band or DJ and photographer for a certain number of hours, and any extra hour they have to stay will get added to your final bill. To help avoid unexpected overtime costs, get the amounts in writing and determine exactly how many hours of service your contract includes.

6. Food for vendors

It's not a lot of fun for your DJ, your photographer and any of your other vendors who are attending the reception to stand around watching everyone enjoy a plate of steaming hot food. Chances are, you want them to eat too, so be sure you include them in your head count to the caterer. Also, don't forget to have a place for them to sit!

7. Cake-cutting fees

You managed to find a cake that was your little slice of heaven without taking a slice out of your budget. If you choose to have your cake made by your venue, the cost of cutting and serving the cake is usually built in to the final cost. However, if you went with an outside cake vendor, the venue is going to charge you so their workers can cut and serve the cake. Costs can range between $2 and $5 per guest for the cake. Be sure you calculate these fees before making your final decision on a cake.

8. Taxes

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said that the only things certain in life were death and taxes. And you can be sure you're going to have to pay taxes on most of the things for your wedding. While most couples are aware of this expense, few fail to consider just how much they'll have to spend on taxes for food, beverages, flowers and wardrobe. A good idea is to budget about one-third of your wedding expenses for taxes and tips.

Doing some extra research when planning your wedding budget can save you from budget-busting surprises later.



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