With the average cost of a wedding around £30,000, marriage is one of the most expensive things most couples will ever pay for. That’s why it’s important to set out a strict wedding budget before you begin to look at venues or start dress shopping. You should know exactly how much cash you have to spend in each area, and establish a ‘buffer’ just in case.
The most expensive items on your budget will likely be the venue, catering, attire and rings. However, there are many ‘hidden costs’ that most brides and grooms to be don’t know about. If you fail to account for these, your day might end up a lot more expensive than you’ve planned for.
We’ve made a list of the 14 most commonly overlooked fees associated with a wedding. Factor these into your budget, and you won’t end up with any nasty surprises.
1) Wedding Insurance
Wedding insurance is designed to protect you against any potential costs arising from:
1 Cancellation of the wedding due to natural disasters, illness, injury, losing your job
2 Problems on the day e.g. wedding suppliers not turning up, clothing damage, alternative transport if your taxi doesn’t arrive
3 Loss or damage of certain items e.g. wedding gifts, rings, flowers, cake
Individual policies and prices will vary depending on the insurance provider. There are various different levels of cover available. Many people have never even heard of wedding insurance, but it’s a really good idea to purchase it, especially if you’re having a particularly large or expensive wedding.
2) Notice of Marriage
In the U.K., there are certain fees you must pay in order to be legally married. Most people know about venue fees, and officiant hire (if it’s not included in your venue package).
But a lot of people don’t know that you have to pay a fee to your local council before you get married. This is called the notice of marriage. Currently (in 2020) the fee is £35 per person (or £70 per couple), but this fee is subject to change.
To give notice, you’ll have to arrange an appointment at your local council office. You can give notice up to 12 months in advance, but no later than 28 days before the wedding.
3) Marriage Certificates
Another fee commonly forgotten about is the cost of your marriage certificate. No, it isn’t free! At the time of writing, the standard cost for a marriage certificate is £11. Some venues may include this cost in your wedding package, but many don’t.
Bear in mind that you should purchase more than one marriage certificate - especially if one of your plans on taking the other’s name. You’ll have to send off your marriage certificate to places like the DVLA in order to change your name. They won’t accept a photocopy - it has to be the real thing. So, it’s best to order at least 3 or 4, just in case one goes missing.
4) Wedding Stationery Postage
When planning your wedding budget, you’re bound to factor in wedding stationery (such as save the dates and wedding invitations). However, have you considered postage (envelopes and stamps)?
Depending on where you buy your stationery from, you may or may not have to worry about envelopes. For example, any stationery ordered from Bride and Groom Direct will come with envelopes.
However, you’ll have to buy stamps, and these don’t come cheap. First class stamps for standard envelopes currently cost 76p each. But for thicker invitation suites, you may have to buy “Large Letter” stamps, which are £1.15. For 100 invitations, that’s a whopping £115.
5) Supplier Delivery and Setup Fees
When getting quotes from wedding suppliers - such as the florist, cake baker, etc - don’t forget to check whether delivery is included in the price. For example, you’ll receive a quote for your flowers, but it might not include the cost of dropping off the arrangements at your venue.
The delivery fee will vary widely depending on the supplier, and how far they have to travel. Once you’ve found out the delivery fee, don’t forget to check whether it includes setup. For example, your chair cover hire company may charge an additional fee for actually fitting the covers onto the chairs.
6) Clothing Alterations
The bride and groom’s wedding outfits (and bridesmaid dresses) make up a substantial chunk of the overall budget. Wedding dresses can run into the thousands, and that’s not including accessories (veil, shoes, etc). Chances are, you’ll already have factored this into the cost of your wedding.
However, bear in mind that your wedding dress (and potentially your bridesmaids’ gowns) will need to be tailored. Very few people can buy a dress off the rack and have it fit perfectly. Various alterations may need to be made, such as shortening the skirt or shoulder straps.
So, if you have a budget of £2,000 for your wedding dress, don’t pick a dress that costs £2000. Pick one that costs £1,500, and that’ll leave plenty of leeway for alterations.
7) Hair and Makeup Trials
Most brides opt to have their hair and makeup done by a professional stylist on the morning of their wedding. Wedding hair and makeup tends to sit around the £100 - £300 mark, and this is a cost that most couples naturally factor into their budget.
However, what you may not realise is that you’re going to need at least one hair and makeup trial before your big day. The point of these trials is to make sure you’re happy with your chosen style, as it may look different on you than in the stylist’s portfolio. Very few artists will offer the trial for free - it usually costs almost as much as the big day itself.
8) Thank You Gifts
Everyone knows that wedding guests are supposed to buy gifts for the bride and groom, as a way of saying ‘thank you for inviting me to your wedding’. But did you know that newlyweds are also expected to give small gifts to everyone in the wedding party? Your parents, your bridesmaids and your best man are going to sacrifice a lot of their time (and potentially money) to help you with your wedding, so it’s the least you can do.
You don’t have to get them anything extremely expensive or elaborate. Bride and Groom Direct have a great range of high quality but affordable wedding party gifts. It’s best to factor these gifts into your budget along with your thank-you cards, so you aren’t left scrabbling for them at the last minute.
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9) Feeding Your Suppliers
If you have any wedding suppliers who are going to be on-site for all (or most) of your wedding day, you will be expected to feed them. For example, the photographer, videographer, day-of coordinator, etc. You may also have to feed your band or DJ if your reception will last more than a couple of hours.
Your suppliers’ contracts may stipulate that you have to provide food, but it won’t be covered in the price they quote for their services. You’ll have to organise their meals separately, and arrange it with your caterer. So, remember to take this into account when you’re setting your wedding food budget.
10) Corkage and Cake Cutting
Most wedding venues - hotels and restaurants, too - will charge some sort of fee if you want to bring outside food and drink onto the premises. At a wedding, this usually takes the form of alcohol (typically wine and champagne), and the wedding cake.
Ask your venue what their ‘corkage fee’ is - that is, the cost for bringing in alcohol. They may charge a flat rate, but usually there’s a fee per bottle. And if you’re expecting the venue staff to cut up your wedding cake and serve it to your guests, there will be a ‘cake cutting’ fee, too. These fees aren’t usually mentioned in the initial quote, so find them out before you book.
11) Service Charge
Almost all wedding venues will add a ‘service charge’ - which basically means a tip - to your bill. In the U.K., this is usually 10% or 15% of the overall venue hire cost. This service charge is usually split evenly between all the venue staff that worked your wedding.
Your venue will probably not include this service charge in their original quote. However, they must mention it in your contract, so read the contract thoroughly before you sign it. If the service charge isn’t in your contract then they can’t force you to pay - but if it is, then you are liable for it. Ask them outright if you’re not sure.
Most U.K. brides and grooms don’t tip their wedding suppliers (hair stylist, photographer, etc). However, it is a nice gesture and always appreciated. So if you want to do this, be sure to account for it in your budget.
In the U.K., many venues will include VAT (value added tax, which currently stands at 20%) in their wedding package price. However, some venues will opt to conveniently leave tax out of the initial price that they offer you. They will add this fee on as an ‘extra’ at the end of your invoice - right around the place that they’ll also add the service charge. While you’re collecting quotes from venues, be sure to ask whether this price includes VAT - and if not, what the real total will be.
The same may go for your wedding suppliers, such as your florist. So before you book anything, read the contract thoroughly and make sure that VAT is included in the price you’ve been told.
13) Cleaning Fees
A cleaning fee is often included in the price that your venue will quote when you enquire about their wedding packages. But sometimes it isn’t, and you’ll discover this extra cost when you come to pay. Alternatively, you might be charged with an unexpected fee if you fail to leave the venue in a clean and tidy state - which isn’t always possible after a big wedding. Make sure to find out your venue’s cleaning policy before signing a contract.
Also, bear in mind that you may have to pay for your dress, your groom’s suit, or hired goods such as tablecloths to be dry-cleaned after the wedding. This cost can quickly add up, so get a few quotes from local dry cleaners when you’re making your wedding budget.
14) Photo Printing and Framing
A wedding photographer will most likely be one of the things you already have a place in your budget for. But one thing that you might not consider is the cost of having your photos professionally printed and/or framed.
Long gone are the days in which wedding photographers would put together a physical photo album for you as a standard part of their package. These days, most photographers will instead provide you with a USB stick or a password to their website where you can access digital copies of your photos. If you want any of them physically printed or framed, it’ll cost you extra - so be sure to enquire about this fee before committing to a particular photographer.