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Hidden Fees for Weddings

Updated on February 8, 2018
linfcor profile image

Online wedding planner for over 10 years. My goal has been to show everyone the best way to plan their wedding without breaking the bank !

Surpise Hits To Your Wedding Budget

There are a few wedding fees and add ons that you might not see coming. Worse yet, you may not have built them into your wedding budget. And believe me, they can add up really fast. It's important to understand that no matter how well planned you feel that you are, things always come up that add a few dollars to your bottom line. Understanding what they are, enable you to be informed up front. Asking the right questions makes all the difference in the world, so you are prepared.

Be consumer smart about your wedding budget. Bring your questions with you. Print a check sheet off the internet or make your own check sheet. Before you sign any vendor contracts, read the fine print so that there are no misunderstandings later on. Ask questions before you sign. If you have any doubts about a vendor, walk away to think about it.

Remember, most things can be negotiated , if you ask. Always ask politely and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish !

Cake Cutting Fee

A hidden cost just to cut a cake? Really?

It's true, many venues actually will charge you to cut and serve your cake. This often occurs when you bring in a cake from an outside source. The fee can vary anywhere from $2 to $5 a slice. Make sure that you understand and ask if there is a fee being charged to cut and serve your cake. If you are using a caterer, please make sure to ask the same question.

The obvious choice is to ask if the venue has a package deal. Often a venue will have a bridal package that minimally includes a cake service and a champagne toast.

Cake Cutting Fee Tip- Some venues will only allow you to get your wedding cake from them. If that's the case, try to negotiate the cutting fee to be lower or non existant

Taxes, Gratuities, And Service Charges

Are you Kidding?

There isn't too much you can do about this part, but understanding it will help you budget for these extra costs. Every county charges it's own sales taxes, and you just can't avoid this part. But in larger weddings, it can add up. So be aware that you will have to add it in in your planning. The service charge pays for your servers at your reception. On top of that a gratuity is built in as well. You can figure on about 1/3 of the cost of the reception to be taxes and gratuity

Be sure to understand if the county taxes include the service and gratuity also, so you can budget that in>

Hidden Set Up And Break Down Fees

They Can Really Add Up ! Yikes !

There are quite a few set up fees and breakdown fees that can raise havoc to your wedding budget. Usually, if you are in a wedding venue, there is no charge for setting or clearing the table. However, the venue can charge you extra, if you have ordered chair covers or special table linens or napkins to be brought in. A florist can also charge you a set up fee for flowers at your church or to set arrangements up at your reception.

Watch out for delivery fees also. Your baker and florist may tack those on too. Ask when you initially speak to these people about delivery, set up and break down fees.

Another place where you may incur extra fees is if you rent a hall. Often a hall will require you to pay extra to set up chairs and tables. They may also charge you to breakdown the room. Added on to that can be the cost of a janitor fee to clean up after your wedding

Bottom line, always ask about set up, breakdown and delivery fees-they can tack hundreds of dollars to your wedding costs

Hidden DJ and Band Fees

A Few Extras Can Really Add Up

Before you meet with your DJ or band, be sure to draw up a detailed floor plan of your venue. Include a table layout. There is always one set price for a certain number of hours played. Most professionals have a package that includes certain kinds and amounts of equipment. But if you want extra speakers or lighting, that's going to cost extra. If you are having the same person do your wedding ceremony or your cocktail hour, that's going to cost you extra as well. Understand what the band or DJ gets for doing any overtime music.

Watch for extra fees if your room is very large ! The band or DJ may require extra speakers or equipment that will add fees that you are not expecting. Make sure that your music professional understands the size of the room or is familiar with the room, so you don't get any unexpected hits

Just make sure that you ask exactly what's included in your contract. Add the things on that you know you can afford. Make sure that those things are clearly spelled out in your contract.

Rental Costs And Fees

Be Oh So Careful !

All kinds of hidden costs can be tacked into your rental fee contracts. Wedding reception venues will charge you to use the room. Just make sure that you understand what comes with that room rental. Some locations have built into their package that it includes a certain number of tables and chairs. Then they may charge you extra for over and above that. There can be also hidden in linen fees a laundering fee.

Bottom line, make sure you clarify what's in your contract and only sign when you are sure that you have an understanding of what you are getting for the price paid.

Unapproved Vendors

A Charge That Will Add Up To Thousands

Many venues will only allow you to use vendors from their list of approved vendors. Should you chose from going outside of their list, they will actually charge you extra. I know that seems like gouging, but they feel that they have a reputation to preserve and they want the people that they have determined who do it best.

You may not like this, but bottom line is that you play by their rules, or pay the extra fee. The third option is to go to another venue

By Ballmann-media (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ballmann-media (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Corkage And Bartender Fees

You Mean There's More?

If you chose to bring alcohol to a venue, that allows you to do so, they actually may charge you what's called a "corkage fee" They might let you do it, but you can rack up things like glass fees, set up fees, ect. Decide if it's more reasonable to use their bar service.

The venue can also require you to use their bartenders. This can be one standard fee or by the hour. Either way, you need to figure it into your budget.

Most times, using the venue bar service will cost you less. But if you are renting a hall, just understand what and how bar service will be done

Extra Meals -They Really Add Up

Do I really need to feed the DJ, band , photographer ect.

The answer to that question really depends on two things. The first is your contract with these vendors. Sometimes they will require it, sometimes not. Secondly, the cost. Often, your venue will provide them a meal in another area of the venue at a reduced price. So check out your contract, first. Secondly, decide if you want to provide it. It is a courtesy and should be considered.

Alterations To Your Gown And Your Attendants

Often Not Included In The Cost Of The Dress

When you are purchasing your gown, make sure you understand how much it will cost you for alterations. Sometimes they will alter the dress once. But, 6 months down the road if you gain or lose some weight, the cost for secondary alterations can add up. make sure that you understand how, when and how often alterations will be done and what they will cost. Likewise, on the bridemaid dresses. Knowing this will help you plan for any last minute expenses to re alter any dresses. I recently spoke to a bride who was shocked that she needed alterations that were about $250 just two months before her wedding.

Alteration Tip-Rather than getting a hem alteration, it's far less expensive to change the height of your heels

Fees For Delivering Rental Equipment

Make sure that if you are renting any tables, chairs, dishes or any other equipment, you understand any delivery fees if applicable. Make sure that it is clearly stated in your contract if there is a fee. This one thing alone can add hundreds of unexpected dollars to your wedding budget

Valet Parking Fees

Most facilities have parking spaces for your guests, but you really need to understand the process to make sure that these details are built into your contracts.

First inquire about the parking available. Then ask about any fees associated to any valet services required by your facility. You would not want your guests to have your pay to park their cars at your reception. So make sure that you understand any and all fees associated to parking.

Wedding Savings Tips


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