You’ve champagne-toasted to your engagement (a few times, because it only happens once, right?). After basking in the post-engagement bliss, you’re deep into the latest table decor trends on Pinterest.
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of your wedding and just focus on the fun parts, like trying on dresses or sampling cakes. But before you get too far into planning, it may be worth stepping back and crunching some numbers.
In addition to being a life milestone and a joyous occasion, a wedding can also be a significant expense.
While the price tag can vary widely depending on the level of luxury you go for and where you live, the average wedding cost $38,700 in 2019.
You probably know about the basics you’ll likely have to cover, such as the dress, venue, catering, rings, and cake. But there are also tons of unexpected wedding costs, both small and large, you may run into—and they can really add up.
Being aware of the lesser-known expenditures you may encounter can help you plan ahead when it comes to financing your big day. Whether you’re paying for your own wedding, or getting help from loved ones, having a realistic budget can help ensure that your wedding doesn’t wreak havoc on your finances.
1. Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties
Since these events happen in advance of the wedding itself, it’s easy to exclude them from your initial budget. But planning for these festivities is crucial, since they can come with a hefty price tag.
Guests spend an average of $537 on these parties, according to The Knot. When it’s a three-day weekend getaway, the cost can go up to even further. According to Upgraded Points , the average cost of a bachelorette weekend in New York City (the most expensive city according to their research) was just over $1,900.
Sometimes the host and guests will opt to cover the cost of accommodations and activities for the bride and groom, but that’s far from guaranteed.
And even if your costs are partially covered, you may still need to chip in for your airfare, meals, and incidentals.
2. Marriage License
In the whirlwind of wedding planning, it can be easy to forget the actual purpose—getting legally married!
That requires you to apply for a marriage license, typically with the relevant county clerk’s office. Some states have a fixed fee, while others vary by county or city. The fees can range from $10 to $115.
You probably know that you’ll need to pay for a venue, but you may not be aware that many require you to also purchase insurance. These policies typically cover damage to the venue or injuries to guests or vendors.
Sometimes they reimburse you if something goes wrong, such as a venue becoming unavailable or a vendor not showing up. Wedding insurance usually costs $200-$550 for basic coverage but can cost more for more expensive events.
If you’re sending paper cards to your guests, don’t forget that you’ll need stamps, too. These can add up when you consider that you may need them for Save the Date cards, invitations, RSVP envelopes, and Thank You cards.
And postage for guests based abroad is even more expensive. As of 2019 , a postcard stamp costs $0.35, and a First-Class Mail letter costs $0.55. Let’s say your Save the Date is a postcard and the rest use envelopes, mailing the above cards to 150 guests in the U.S. would cost anywhere from $100-$200 or more.
Many brides and grooms forget that attaining the perfect wedding-day outfit will likely require not only shelling out for a dress and suit, but also paying for alterations.
Some stores and custom tailors include the cost of alterations in the price of the garment, but others don’t. With dresses, changes such as hemming the gown, adding lace or beading, or taking it in can cost anywhere from $50 to $700 or more.
6. Beauty Treatments
You’ll want to look your best on your big day, and that likely requires spending some cash. Hair and makeup for brides costs $150 on average, and many stylists charge extra for a trial. If you’re paying for your bridesmaids to get hair and makeup done as well, the cost could also be around $150 for both services on average.
Brides may also choose other beauty treatments, such as facials (average cost of $65), manicures and pedicures (average cost of $63), and tanning (average cost of $39). Body art, like mehendi for Indian brides, can cost $75 on average. The groom may also choose to pay for services like a haircut and professional shave.
You are probably expecting to receive gifts from your guests, but don’t forget that you may want to give some out, too.
It’s customary to give thoughtful thank you gifts to your wedding party, with especially nice presents going to the maid of honor and best man.
You may also want to give tokens of appreciation to your parents and grandparents, especially if they helped pay for the wedding. If you have friends who helped out a lot, perhaps by writing your escort cards or serving as an officiant, you may want to thank them with a gift as well. And any children that are participating in your day, such as a flower girl or ring bearer.
Last but not least, it can be meaningful to exchange gifts with your new husband or wife. By including these significant items in your budget, you can make sure you can afford them when the time comes.
8. Wedding Weekend Events
Your initial wedding budget may not have included other events you’re hosting, such as the rehearsal dinner, welcome drinks, or a brunch.
Depending on the number of guests, all of these events can cost a pretty penny. The average cost of a rehearsal dinner is around $1,330 , while brunches can start at $20 per person!
9. Lodging and Transportation
You’ll probably be paying for a hotel for one or more nights if your wedding isn’t in your hometown, or if you just want to stay somewhere special.
You also may not want to drive yourselves around on the big day. If that’s the case, factor in the cost of a limo, bus, or rideshare service to get you to and from the photo, rehearsal, and wedding locations. If you’re providing transportation for guests as well, expect this number to go up significantly.
More likely than not, your wedding venue and caterer won’t provide everything you need. You’ll likely need to pay extra to rent linens, flatware, and glassware. You may also want to rent other items, such as a heating lamp, cake stand, string lights, candles, or a photobooth.
Financing Your Wedding
So how do you afford all those wedding expenses—the ones you plan for and the hidden ones that crop up? Here are some ideas for financing your dream wedding:
Budgeting and Saving
The first order of business is often to make a budget. Add up all the anticipated wedding expenses, including the lesser-known charges above. Then, you and your betrothed can track your monthly expenses and income and see how much you have left over to save each month.
If it’s not enough to get to your goal, see if you can find ways to reduce expenses or earn extra cash. SoFi Relay, a complementary tool for SoFi members, can help you track your spending and cashflow in real time against a set budget, to help prevent you from going over—and help you save for the big day.
If your wedding budget is more than you can afford, you may be able to find ways to reduce some of the costs. Perhaps a friend can officiate instead of paying a professional.
Maybe your friends can help you create DIY paper goods, bouquets, and centerpieces. Or what if you sent digital Save the Dates and invitations, rather than paying for printing and postage? Some couples even self-cater their weddings.
If you aren’t able to save up enough in advance, a wedding loan could help finance your wedding, whether you’re having a traditional ceremony or a destination wedding. With SoFi, eligible borrowers may qualify for loans with interest rates that are generally lower than the interest rates charged by credit cards.
There are few spending restrictions when it comes to personal loans, so borrowers can use them for any wedding expenses that come up, and don’t have to put any assets down as collateral.
With SoFi personal loans, you don’t pay any fees for applying or for paying it back early. If you happen to get laid off, you may also be eligible for Unemployment Protection: payments could be temporarily suspended for up to one year, while SoFi would provide assistance with finding a new job for qualified borrowers. It takes just a few minutes to apply online.
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