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Major Expenses

How to Avoid Hidden Wedding Costs

Woman Sending Out Wedding Invitation- Thumbnail

The excitement of planning a wedding can quickly turn to disbelief after creating your budget. The idyllic venue, professional photographer and perfect dress can all add up to a substantial bill. But you knew those wedding expenses were coming. What you didn’t expect (or save for) were the hidden wedding costs that escalate your final bill from reasonable to stressful. Before you finalize your wedding budget, be sure to avoid or make room for these hidden wedding costs.


The current price of a first-class stamp is 49 cents[1], which doesn’t sound like much when you’re mailing an individual card or letter. But if you’ve opted for intricately designed save-the-dates and invitations, that price can rise to more than $2 per invitation, depending on their weight.[2] Pass on the highly customized invitations if you want to avoid this hidden wedding expense. Instead, consider a simple design that still carries the elegance and formality that a wedding demands.


Selecting a charming and memorable setting is often at the forefront of the wedding couple’s mind. The emotional significance of the wedding venue combined with its practical purposes (all those guests have to sit somewhere) means the venue is often the most expensive feature of a wedding. But remember that some venues only offer to rent their space. It’s up to you to provide the furniture. Depending on personal taste, chairs can cost as little as $1 per chair up to $8 per chair, while each table costs around $9. These costs may be built into your catering deal or venue rental, so take a closer look at your contracts before figuring out what you need.


Fees, Fees, Fees

Get out the microscope before you sign any contracts, or any number of hidden fees might suddenly reveal themselves on your bills. Venue and catering service fees, especially, are a couple of big-ticket items to keep an eye on. “I notice service charges creeping in mostly in country clubs, private clubs and sometimes on catering bills,” says wedding designer Karen Bussen in a 2014 article[3] from U.S. News & World Report. “These are not necessarily gratuities. Sometimes, for example, a private club will just charge an 18 to 22 percent service charge for administering the wedding.” For a $2,000 venue, a 20 percent fee comes out to $400. Other fees to watch out for include a cake-cutting fee, cleanup fees and overtime fees for labor.

Unapproved Vendors

After weeks of pros and cons lists, adjusted budgets and healthy family arguments, you’ve chosen the venue, photographer and caterer. It’s all settled. Or is it? Some venues have a pre-approved list of vendors that they require you to use. If your selection doesn’t align with their list, be prepared to be charged. To avoid this hidden wedding expense, choose a venue that doesn’t require you to choose from their vendor list, or find a vendor on the list that you’re comfortable with.

Don’t let hidden wedding expenses steal the joy of planning your special day. Many of these extra costs can be avoided with careful planning or accounted for with extra funding. If you have your heart set on a specific venue, photographer or caterer, a personal loan is a responsible way to make your wedding day dreams a reality. With convenient payment plans, a personal loan offers a manageable path to repayment. Check out Discover’s free loan calculator to see if a personal loan is the right fit for your situation.