Financial Fitness Zone

7 wedding costs you may not see coming

First comes love, then comes marriage, then come the bills. Nuptials come with plenty of emotions, planning, and often a hefty price tag. Despite efforts to keep wedding costs down, weddings can get expensive. Even the most budget-conscious bride should be prepared for unexpected costs. Here are some costs that often go un-budgeted for in the wedding planning process.

1. Postage

It’s a good idea to weigh your invitation options before you decide which to use — postage can set you back more than $1 per person. Square letters also require a surcharge, regardless of weight. And don’t forget that you will also need postage for save-the-dates, RSVP cards and thank you notes.

2. Sales Tax & Gratuities

When negotiating contracts with vendors, it’s important to include sales tax in the quoted cost so that final bills reflect what you expected to pay. With costs in bulk for the reception, food and bar costs, taxes can add up. Although tips are up to your discretion, realize that “service charges” may not cover the gratuity for the wedding staff. Read the fine print to see what that covers. With large payments, a general rule of thumb is that 10 percent is appropriate for tipping.

3. Presents & Favors

It’s customary for family and friends in your wedding party to get presents for all they have done for you at this special time. You may want to consider giving a symbol of appreciation to bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers and even your parents. Chances are these people have shelled out an impressive amount of their own funds for the benefit of your big day. Favors are another often last-minute decision that can break the bank.

Consider useful, but affordable options such as a donation to charity in guests’ names.

4. Delivery Fees

From your dress to tables, chairs, linen and bar, everything can be assembled to your venue of choice on your wedding day. But to get everything you want in the right place at the right time, you may have to pay a hefty delivery fee. Be aware that some vendors will charge extra for prompt removal of rented items.

5. Overtime Costs

Since most fees are set based on time and weddings often fall behind schedule or last longer than originally planned, it’s important to understand all your agreements before staying too far past the agreed end time. The venue, band, DJ, photographer and videographer will all be watching the clock.

6. A Backup Plan

Whether it’s an outdoor wedding that needs an unexpected tent for a rogue thunderstorm or a late and hungover groom, be honest with your expectations. It’s a good idea to price your event including a contingency option so that these costs do not catch you off guard.

7. Post-Reception Parties

Though your planning may have ended after the reception venue shut down, realize that you may not want to turn in so early. After-parties are not always considered ahead of time, but can be expensive between alcohol and space for your closest guests. You may want to include an extra bar tab’s worth of budget in your plans if you (or your future spouse) like to stay up late.

Now that you know what pitfalls others have encountered, hopefully you can avoid being surprised by them. And don’t let the costs ruin one of the most special days in your life. In fact, there are even some ways couples can get tax deductions from some of the wedding day expenses. So budget the best you can and keep your expectations in line with reality. It’s a good idea to set aside 10 percent to 20 percent of your budget for any emergency or last-minute costs. And, should you put those unexpected expenses on a credit card, make a plan to pay them off. Putting large expenses on your credit card can impact your credit scores if you're not careful. If you want to see how credit card balances affect your credit scores, you can get two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

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