Even once the wedding itself is underway, unexpected costs can rear their heads. Don't forget to budget for additional fees throughout your wedding. While it is tempting to just set aside enough money to cover the anticipated expenses through the vows and dancing, many couples are shocked to realize their budget actually has to stretch farther than they thought. Don't get caught off guard by extra costs that arise during your wedding day. Here are a few of the more frequently-encountered ones.
Everyone knows open bars are expensive. Some couples even turn to completely dry weddings in a desperate attempt to avoid the staggering fee that comes with serving free, unlimited alcohol. However, even when couples budget an open bar into their financial plan, they often don't budget enough. The open bar allows guests to come up for as many drinks as they like, all night long–and you agree to pay the bill no matter what it becomes.
If you're buying your own alcohol, this is one area where it's much better to purchase too much than too little. Bonus spirits can be kept for entertaining during married life or can be given as presents to the people who helped make your wedding special. Running out of cocktails midway through the reception, on the other hand, doesn't look good to anyone.
Because of their unpredictable nature, open bars can easily blow an impeccably-planned budget. If you can't afford a truly unlimited drink supply, consider a "hosted bar" where the drinks are free up to a limit. Once that limit is reached, the bar becomes a cash bar for the rest of the night. It's only fair to let your guests know this ahead of time, however, which may result in an especially festive mood gracing the beginning hours of your reception.
Just because a wedding officiant performs your wedding for free, it doesn't mean you're not supposed to give payment. Many officiants, both religious and civil, make a point of not accepting payment for performing wedding services. Don't be fooled into thinking that it means the service is completely free, however. It's considered polite to give a donation to the officiant's religious organization or to offer to cover the officiant's travel expenses and meals in exchange for the honor of a ceremony well performed. Never tip a civil officiant, such as a Justice of the Peace, during office hours; some are allowed to accept tips outside of their workday, but it's best to check ahead of time to avoid awkwardness.
Even if your officiant charges a set fee, make sure that the fee covers rehearsals as well as the actual ceremony. Some officiants charge extra for each trip to your ceremony site as well as additional fees for customized ceremonies and vows.
Many couples are surprised to find out they're accountable not only for paying their wedding vendors, but for feeding them as well. It is common for catering staff to eat a meal, since they work through the meal time, as well as entertainers, bartenders, and other vendors who work through the reception. Photographers and videographers sometimes eat a meal, although more often they are found documenting the reception without pause.
Vendor meals are usually the same meals that are fed to the rest of the wedding guests. However, they are slightly less expensive because they do not include alcohol. Never feel pressured to serve your wedding vendors alcohol. They are on the job while working for your wedding and most responsible vendors do not want to be seen as unprofessional by accepting an alcoholic drink. Some catering packages include vendor meals at a discount because they do not come with fancy desserts and other special touches that are just for the guests.
The point of a vendor meal is to keep the vendor at your event so they can perform their job in comfort and with focus. A meal that is too lengthy or elaborate just serves as a distraction. When in doubt, ask your vendors directly whether they will be providing their own meals.
By anticipating additional costs before they arise, you can make smart decisions about your wedding budget. While it's tempting to spend extra money on last-minute details and decorations, leaving some wiggle room in your financial plan leaves you in control when unexpected expenses occur. Think ahead and you won't get caught off guard!