10 super-obvious things I forgot to add to my wedding budget

Guest post by juliegolick
Photo by Allebach Photography

When I started planning my wedding, I scoured the web for as many wedding budget breakdowns as I could find. I made spreadsheets and included everything I could think of, in super-granular detail. I thought I was totally, absolutely set. I thought I had thought of everything I could possibly think of.

Surprise: I was wrong!

In case it might help future couples who are in the “setting the budget” stage of their wedding planning, here are some things I discovered I had not budgeted for, despite looking at dozens of online sample wedding budgets:

1. Last-minute expenditures for the day of the wedding

It might be a missing shirt, or a vase that never got delivered, or a last-minute pizza run for the helpers setting up the hall, but there will almost certainly be something you forgot. Budget in a little bit more to cover whatever it might be.

2. Postage

For Save-the-Dates, invitations, return stamps (if you're using them), and Thank You cards. Take note of any special rates for international postage.

3. Thank You cards

Speaking of Thank You cards… remember they're not only for the wedding, but also for the bridal shower and any other pre-wedding gifts you receive.

4. Printed photos for the Thank You cards

If you're getting store-bought Thank You cards and want to have a picture of you and your spouse from the wedding, budget for printing those pictures.

5. Photos and albums

If it's not part of your photographer's package, you'll probably want an album. And even if you don't, you might want some pictures to go on the wall or windowsill. Remember to budget for frames as well, if you're going to be buying any.

6. Dress cleaning and storage

Your dress will get sweaty. It might get dirty. Unless you're doing a Trash the Dress session, you'll probably want it cleaned. My bridal salon offered both cleaning and preservation (in a box with a clear front so you can look in and see the dress). Expect to spend several hundred dollars on this unless you have an “in” with a reputable dry-cleaner.

7. Dry cleaning for suits and other attire

If you or your spouse is wearing a suit, you might want it dry-cleaned after the wedding. See above about sweaty/dirty garments.

8. Framing of important documents and pictures

We had a moment after the wedding where we looked at each other and said, “Oh, crap, we need to frame the ketubah!” Price estimate from the professionals? $250-400. Ouch. If you have documents or pictures you want preserved, get some quotes before the wedding if you can!

9. Post-wedding transport

Thankfully we had family members to drive us around places, but I probably should have budgeted for an extra tank of gas. If you need to take taxis to or from an airport or hotel, budget for that.

10. Registry completion

I already wrote about wedding registries and lifestyle creep, but the short version is that if you have a registry, you'll probably get partial sets of stuff. After the wedding, you can either return them or finish the set… with your own money.

These are just a few things to think about when you're setting your budget so as not to be blindsided by post-wedding expenses. Our unexpected post-wedding spending amounted to hundreds of dollars. Ouch! Learn from my mistakes, and good luck!

What were YOUR surprise budget items?

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Comments on 10 super-obvious things I forgot to add to my wedding budget

  1. Man, this is so true. If you are having a destination wedding (even if it’s just a couple hours away) make sure to build in a slush fund for the day-before and day-of the wedding. When you can’t go home to get something you forgot or something is missing or broken, you’ll end up spending money to fix it, and it’s less stressful if that money is already budgeted!

  2. This is great! I didn’t include a lot of these post-wedding costs in my budget (but figured they would just get absorbed into everyday life costs after).

    One different perspective I’d like to offer: you can clean your wedding dress yourself. I looked into the price quotes of getting my dress cleaned and just could not handle spending another few hundred dollars. So I bought some cleaning products and very carefully cleaned it myself. It turned out great! (Sure, I had to scrub the hem with a toothbrush, but honestly, is a dry-cleaner going to do that? Nope!)

    • Great idea! I’d probably be too worried to attempt this myself — I’d be terrified I would ruin my dress. But good on you! I loled at the idea of taking a toothbrush to the hem. 🙂

  3. This is great, and the cherry on top was when I saw Julie’s name! You always had such great advice and insight on the Tribe!

  4. I’m finding there’s a lot of things I keep forgetting about. 🙁 I forgot to include the ACTUAL MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE COST in my budget. Y’know, the thing that makes this whole thing legit?!

    I also forgot envelopes. Which are surprisingly expensive.

    These are great to keep in mind, thanks Julie! :3

    • Did you get envelopes separate from the cards / items you were putting in them? Or were they part of a tacked-on expense from something like Vistaprint?

      • I’ve only bought them for our Save the Dates so far, but even then they were surprisingly expensive. Plain old envelopes for everyday mailing? Like $10 for 500. Fancy ones for fancy things? $25 for 50. Phew.

        We’re planning on getting pocketfolds or something similar because I like the neat and tidiness of them, but oh my goodness gracious me those are EXPENSIVE.

    • I also forgot to include the marriage license! And, we had to double the damn thing because the only time N will be in the right city to get it will be the day before the wedding, so we have to pay an expedited fee. Hoofta.

    • Dude. Envelopes! I think I shopped around for those more than anything else because WHOA with the prices! And naturally I need different sizes for the STDs, invitations, RSVP cards and the freaking thank you notes. Had I had my head on straight I might have really considered making all those things the same freaking size/color scheme so I could just buy them in bulk all at once.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that NO ONE EVER tells you about, even in the most detailed budgets on wedding blogs. For me this has so far included: 12 fancy cupcakes for a “tasting” with my friendor-baker to pick flavors; swatch samples for the veil, ties, and various papers; buying dinner for people who have spent all day helping me make the invitations; gas and meals out because we had to drive to our 2-hour away venue for yet another meeting; new make up products because I felt I didn’t have anything “fun” for my engagement shoot; “we deserve it” extra date nights because wedding planning is stressful…. I feel like it’s never ending.

    • Repeat after me: there will always be just one more thing. Sooner or later you need to draw a line in the sand and say, “This far and no farther.”

      Few things are absolutely 100% necessary. Despite everything I said in the main post, and despite spending hundreds of dollars after the wedding on stuff I forgot, sometimes enough is enough. Just remember to say to yourself, “If I don’t spend money on this thing, what will happen? Can I live with that? Can my spouse? Will we be okay if we don’t spend money on this thing?” And then let that be your guiding inspiration.

      (So, for me, I spent money on preserving my dress but not on props for the engagement shoot. I spent money on framing my ketubah — a jaw-dropping gift from a dear friend — but not on a tasting. It all depends on what’s important to you.)

  6. Postage. Like the actual stamps for the invitations and thank yous, lol. And you’d think, hey, that’s no big deal, a stamp is, what? $0.49, right? Multiply that by a hundred guests though, and it’s an easy fifty bucks for each event (shower, thank you, wedding, RSVP, thank you)= two hundred fifty bucks out of the blue. We were so busy thinking about the big ticket things (venue, dress, photos, flowers, music), we didn’t think about @&$?!# stamps.

    I also didn’t realize how many clothes I’d need for things like engagement parties, photo shoots, the shower, the rehearsal dinner, and so on. My entire wardrobe is made up of t-shirts and jeans, so I couldn’t wear any of my existing stuff. But I do sew, so I originally planned to make my own dress for my shower, and alter an old dress for my rehearsal dinner, but I’m running out of time, and just buying new things.

    • Oh, man, postage! I wound up spending about $270 on postage when all was said and done, and that’s accounting for the fact that I hand-delivered about a quarter of my invites and did e-mail save the dates! It turns out my invitations were too wide for regular postage so they cost $2 each. Ouch!

  7. Just a tip for those worried about envelopes / stamp costs – we did postcards for out Save the Dates that we printed from Staples, and not only were the cheaper, we didn’t need any envelopes AND postcards use a cheaper “postcard stamp”. For the invites we also got a good deal by printing on Vistaprint (which when we bought them included free envelopes). The thing I liked about Vistaprint is they always have a million sales going on, so when I was ordering them, I googled Vistaprint coupon codes and ended up getting a ton of different codes to use. Not sure how much other people have spent to compare it to, but for our Save the Dates, invites, all the envelopes, and the postage we spent a little under $200. Also, just for reference we sent out 79 invites.

    • Definitely worth it to sign up for Vistaprint’s newsletter if you think you’re going to be using them. They send out coupon codes all the time.

    • Love the postcards from Staples idea for STDs.

      Did you (or has anyone else) order your VistaPrint stuff from their fancier “invitations” menu (with what appear to be Wedding Tax pricing), or just use their regular cards with invitation wording on them?

      I was trying to price out STD’s, invites, etc for our budget, and noticed that their “business” postcards are cheaper than their “wedding” postcards/invites. I am thinking of just ordering the “business” ones with STD/invitation wording on them, and would love to hear thoughts from others who’ve gone the VistaPrint route.

      • For the postcards, I used the blank postcard on Staples website which was not in a wedding section. We uploaded our own design that my graphic design friend helped us out by creating.

        For the invites, I think they were the plain 5×8 cards on the Vistaprint site which may have been under the wedding section, and we uploaded our own design with that as well.

        • I used VistaPrint for my Save the Date postcards, and I just used the blank template and uploaded one that I designed myself.
          I didn’t use them for my actual invites because I had a friend volunteer to make them, BUT I do know that they send out samples of their paper and envelope options (I did this.. I believe it was free).. You just have to make sure that you have time to wait on the samples to show up and then order. In general I’ve found that the wedding section is marked up, BUT if you’re using one of their premade wedding templates it could be easier.

          • Thanks, Sarah! I just ordered two free sample kits from VistaPrint: one for business materials and one for wedding materials, so I can see what the difference is (if there is one).

    • Another thing regarding Vistaprint – every so often they have a Groupon, where it’s $27 or so for $75, or something of that nature. Mix that with sales vistaprint has, and you are looking at some pretty tidy savings. 🙂

  8. STAAAAAAAAAMPS. Our Save-the-Dates were postcards, and I over-bought postcard stamps because our RSVP cards are postcards too. But then the USPS raised the postcard rate to 35 cents, leaving us with all these extra 34-cent postcard stamps . . . Most of our thank-you cards are being sent with two postcard stamps rather than one regular stamp.

  9. How about all the extra data I’ve used on my phone for getting directions everywhere (caterer, venue, florist, etc., etc.)? I’ve had to bump my data plan up every month since wedding planning began!

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