Creating and having a budget for your wedding is always where I like to start with my brides.  You will quickly realize that without at least a basic budget, costs can add up without you realizing what happened.  Extra expenses are not exactly “hidden” costs with your vendors but it’s almost like planning a vacation with your budget including hotel and air fare but not including things like gratuity, hotel transportation, meal and alcohol costs, site seeing costs and extra hotel amenities.  In order to get a true picture of what things will cost, you need to be aware of some things that you may not be thinking about but you definitely want to include in your budget.   Let me help you with this!    Here are a few things to consider when planning your wedding budget.

Photo by Photos by Heart  Caterer Jennie Weller Catering

Photo by Arden Photography  Catering by Hot and Hot Fish Club


1.  Catering Service Fees – You may have planned to spend about $35 or $40 per person for a good menu with an awesome caterer but what you will be getting along with the menu of delicious food is a great service team, the labor to prepare such a great menu for you, set up and break down on site at your venue not to mention transporting all the equipment necessary to make this great display for you.  You know that little “++” sign you see after each per person price on the menu?  This will equal to about 30% to cover all of the service, tax and sometimes gratuity in addition to your basic per person cost.  Make sure you add this in so there are no surprises when you pay your final balance with your caterer.  Caterers are one of the hardest working vendors for you on your wedding day and the service and operational fees are well worth this expense.

Photo by Eric and Jamie Photography     Annabelle’s


2.  Postage Stamps –  After you have designed your invitations, decided on the amount you will need to order and included your RSVP cards, don’t forget to factor in the postage for not only the invitation itself, but for the RSVP cards as well.  This cost can be more than just an average stamp cost so make sure you have your invitation weighed at the post office before purchasing your stamps too.

Photo by Rob and Wynter Photography     Coats Classic Cars

3.  Transportation – This can cover several items of transportation from the get-a-way car to a trolly for the bridal party to a shuttle bus for your out of town guests.  Whatever your transportation needs are you should include some money in your budget to get everyone from where they are to where they need to be.  This is especially important if you know you will be drinking and you want to provide some assistance to your guests and also have a ride from your venue to your hotel room after the wedding.  One thing to remember as well is to include a gratuity to your drivers.  The driver may not be assigned to you until the week of your wedding so have an envelope handy the day of your wedding for them.

4.  Vendor Meals – Once you have your final head count in to the caterer, you will want to take care of your vendors, specifically those who are with you all day long.  Sometimes this is written in their contracts and may specify if it is to be a hot meal or just something small.  Your bands will most likely have this in their contracts but a lot of vendors such as your photographers, videographers and wedding planners may not.  They don’t have to eat the same things you serve your guests but they can be accommodated with a nice box lunch, a tray of sandwiches or go ahead and include them in your head count.   They will be so grateful.

Photo by  Sweet Julep Photography

5.  Gift bags for your out of town guests – You may have a few guests coming in from out of town or many many guests who are traveling staying at a few hotels in your area.  If you have blocked some rooms at the hotels where they will stay, these hotels will provide you with a reservation list of everyone who is included in your room block.  This will help you get a number of who you would like to give a gift bag or box to if you chose to do so.  This is a lovely gesture for your traveling guests and just really lets them know you appreciate their efforts to come and celebrate your day with you.  This doesn’t have to be much… A salty, a sweet, a chocolate, a cookie and maybe things like tissues, Advil or mints with a sweet note tucked inside from you and your fiancee.  This is worth the effort but often not thought about until a month or so before your wedding so plan ahead for this.

Photo by   Sweet Julep Photography

Photo by Jerrod Brown Studios  Tutwiler Hotel

6.  Wedding Night Hotel Room – You may not be leaving for your honeymoon until the next day or maybe two days later so get a nice hotel room for the night of your wedding.  If your flight out is early the next day try to stay close to the airport.  Here is also something to remember… get a copy of your marriage license or take a picture of it with your phone.   Hotels will often give you extra amenities on your wedding night and on your honeymoon if you show them your marriage certificate so don’t forget this!

Photo by Jerrod Brown Studios

7.  Delivery and set up fees – These are often included on your floral design invoice,  your cake baker invoice and rental company invoice.  These are services where, like your caterer, are providing a product for you but the products also have to be delivered and set up, loaded and unloaded from the truck and as with your floral designer, prepared several days ahead of your wedding day.  This can sometimes be a fee of 20% or a flat rate but well worth this cost to have this all done and ready for you when you and your guests arrive.

Photo by  Jerrod Brown Studios           Design Productions LLC

8.  Extra Power – This does not apply to all weddings but some will have a lighting design that would require extra power or a large band who may need extra power as well.  A generator may be necessary so when discussing your design with your planner and venue, consider the power needed to create this design and where it might come from and who will supply this.  Don’t take any chances here.  You never want to have your wedding day arrive and realize there isn’t enough power to supply all that you have designed.  This question regarding power supply will come up often when you are having a wedding at home, an outdoor wedding away from any structures or even old historic venues where power supplies may be older or just not enough.  Ask your lighting designer to do a thorough inspection of the venue and make sure there are enough circuits to supply all who may need power such as your band, lighting designer or caterer.

Photo by  Arden Photography  Bartending by Hot and Hot Fish Club

9.  Bartending – Your caterer can often provide you with great bartenders who are licensed under the catering company but many times you are left to search for this service on your own.  Always hire reputable, licensed and insured bartenders who likely will provide you with the service of, not only serving your alcohol, but also can provide the alcohol as well.  Gratuity is often not included in these contracts so allow some money in your budget for the bartending fees which should include ice, cups, mixers, napkins, etc. and also gratuity.  Two bartenders for each bar is typical but this also depends on your guest count so defer to your wedding planner and/or your caterer to determine how many bartenders are needed for your wedding day.

Photo by David Boyd Photography

10.  Marriage License – This is one of the items you absolutely need when you are getting married and so many couples forget to add this into their budget.  The cost may not be that large but it’s all the little items adding up that can make the budget get off track.  The cost for your marriage license can be anywhere from about $40 to over $100 depending on what part of the country you live in and which county in the state you live in.  You will need this in cash when you purchase your license so definitely add this on to your budget.

Photo by  Kelli and Daniel Taylor Photography

11.  A Wedding Planner – Yes, you can probably plan your wedding without a planner similar to you being the general contractor when building a house without a doubt but do you want to?  Do you want to be the “go to” person on the day of your wedding where all the vendors come to you to ask their questions about set up, design and whatever trouble may come up that day?  How about all those vendors you will be contracting?  You can, of course do thorough research on each and every vendor and figure out who would be the best fit for you OR you can hire a great wedding planner who is already submerged in the wedding business, networks with these vendors on a regular basis and knows exactly which vendor fits you and your goals for your wedding the best.  Many wedding vendors offer a discount to planners simply because we work so often with them and they appreciate having someone onsite the day of your wedding who can field questions and concerns and not have to bother the brides and Moms.  My goal as a wedding planner is to make sure you and your family enjoy the day completely and you contract vendors who match your personality, style and budget.    This is a cost you may not think about but trust me sweet brides and grooms, this is money well worth spending and I have plenty of reviews saying exactly this!  Come and see!  AK Brides Reviews


What questions do you have about budgeting your wedding or any questions at all about planning your wedding?   I am here to help you!   Fill out a contact form here  Contact Anita – AK Brides or text me directly at 205-492-7428 or 805-443-9880 or email

Blessings to you!