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.
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?