Everyone remembers to budget for the big stuff – the food, the venue, the flowers, the dress – but in the giant cloud of excitement surrounding a wedding, the little expenses can get lost in the chaos…and nuptials have no shortage of little expenses (or chaos). When prioritizing where your dollars will be best spent, make sure the list is complete so nothing sneaks up on you last minute. Purchases left to buy with no money to buy them only increases anxiety levels heading up to the big day.

So, to keep wedding stress within reason, let’s take a look at what you might be missing on that long list of matrimony must-haves:


Depending on the size and location of your ceremony and reception, transportation costs can really add up. How are you and your soon-to-be spouse going to get around? What about the wedding party? While leaving the to and from up to each individual is more cost effective, it doesn’t hurt to have all the key players coordinated. Splurging on a large passenger van or bus is a great way to make sure you aren’t standing at the alter minus a much-needed VIP.

Next, consider your guests. How far is the hotel from the reception venue? If it is not within walking distance and no one within 100 miles has heard of Uber, it is probably a good idea to hire transportation. Given the celebratory nature of receptions, it might even be the best money you spend.

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

Marriage license fees are just the tip of the iceberg. The $20-50 cost of a license is nothing compared to the laundry list ready to nickel and dime you if someone plans on changing their name (the two most obvious fees being linked to updating driver’s licenses and passports). You might also budget for costs associated with title changes to vehicles and mortgage loans or deeds on homes if these things were purchased independently and both parties wish to be included following the ceremony.

And don’t forget the fees you are bound to incur for lost or broken items because, let’s be real, a wedding is really just a giant party; something is bound to get busted. The venue, the hotel, the limo company, the caterer – all of these vendors require deposits that might just be kept should something fail to go as planned.

Every Meal Besides the Dinner

Yes, the caterer is handling the big meal, but what about everything else? The rehearsal dinner will cost a small fortune for just an average sized wedding party and accompanying family. A nice backyard BBQ is a less expensive workaround, but even buying wienies and soda pop for 50 people can get pricey. To make matters worse, this night-before tradition is relatively non-negotiable.

You also need to evaluate the food and beverage situation for the day of. Depending on timeframe, it could require breakfast and lunch for you and your crew. Again, coffee, champagne, brunch, and day-long snacks are going to cost you. Lots of couples also bring in a light meal toward the end of the reception since the hors d’oeuvres and tiny chicken breasts have long since been digested by the time the music starts.


When it comes to wedding vendors, you are basically expected to tip everybody: the drivers, the bartenders, the servers, the hairdressers and make-up artists, even the officiant. These additional expenses, which end up being quite large when you hit the average 15-20%, are often forgotten in the budgeting process, leaving a big bill that you weren’t expecting. It is also nice to have cash on hand for tipping, so prepare ahead of time. The Knot offers a quick cheat sheet on vendor gratuity to help plan accordingly.

Marriage or Mortgage

The Officiant

Additionally, unless your Great Uncle Bob has agreed to officiate, set aside funds to pay the pastor or Justice of the Peace. This is typically a small amount ranging from a modest donation to a few hundred dollars, depending on who performs the honors. For additional information on figuring officiant costs, check out WeddingWire’s article on this seemingly simple, but oftentimes complicated, line item.

Weddings add up quickly, so it is important to tally all of the costs you are likely to incur before going too far down the road to matrimony. Yes, the “big stuff” will eat up much of the budget, but to avoid catastrophe, make sure you have funds remaining to cover those easily forgotten, smaller ticket items. It’s the best wedding gift you can give yourself because, should you happen to spend all your savings and forget to budget in the officiant, that whole party you just planned is kind of pointless.

Ashley Wirgau

Ashley Wirgau