Unexpected wedding costs: You don't know what you don't know

By: Mike Doman

Your wedding is likely to be the biggest event you'll ever plan yourself, so it's understandable that you'd might miss a few things. We speak to a recent bride to find out the things she didn't factor in.

Weddings are associated with plenty of plenties: plenty of people, plenty of planning, plenty of laughs, plenty of commitment. But with all of that comes plenty of money, and it's easy for things to get missed in the budgeting stage.

For recent bride Emily Hill, all the planning in the world couldn't have prepared her for the little things that add up.

"We knew there were always going to be things that we missed, but there's no way we were prepared for all of it. We spoke to some friends who'd been through it all to try and get an idea of everything we'd have to cover, and there was still plenty that popped up along the way," she said.

  • Location, location, location

    While destination weddings are in vogue, holding the reception a little closer to home can still attract fees and charges - especially if you have your heart set on a particular caterer, florist or external supplier.

    "We had our wedding in Mount Beauty [in Victoria], but getting our caterer out there attracted a travelling fee that we weren't planning on. It was only a couple of hundred dollars in the grand scheme of things - to cover their petrol and somewhere to sleep - but in a wedding, a couple of hundred dollars here and there starts to add up."

  • Take charge of the surcharge

    Speaking of surcharges, there's often a number of charges that your venue can lay on you as you start to get into the finer details. It's important to go in with a very clear idea of what you want from a venue and what you'll provide yourself.

    For instance, many venues expect to cater, and factor that into the amount they expect to make from hiring the space out. If you decide to bring in external caterers, many will charge a per-head surcharge, despite not actually providing the food. There are also upgrade costs for different chairs, tables and centrepieces to consider, or lighting and AV costs. Make sure you're up-front with the venue and keep on top of anything where they say a surcharge may apply.

  • Feeding the hordes

    Everybody factors in the food at the reception, but what about before and after? Whether you're prepping for the big day with nearest and dearest, or having a breakfast the morning after with the people that have stuck by you through your bride/groomzilla phase, a meal for 10 people can easily run up $200 - $300. And if you're providing drinks as well, that can double pretty quickly.

    "We had a champagne breakfast the morning after for everybody who helped us with the wedding, which we probably hadn't banked on," says Emily.

    "But these were people who had put in hours, days, even months, to help us, so getting them a bite to eat was the least we could do."

  • Mind your Ps and Qs

    And when it comes to gratitude, there's always small gifts that go a long way to making sure you stay on the right side of family politics. And while it's totally acceptable to get the same (thoughtful) gift for the people that've gone above and beyond, keeping that cost under wraps can be difficult. It's best to look out for deals ahead of the date, and buy in bulk when you have the opportunity.

    A wedding day is your day, so you shouldn't spend it stressed about the unexpected.

    "We mainly just went with the flow," says Emily.

    "At the end of the day we had an amazing time with our friends and family, and that will always be the thing we remember. But there's a few things we wish we'd thought of in advance."

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