Setting a realistic budget is no easy feat, especially when your brain is being overloaded with details. They're not necessarily "unexpected" expenses, but here is a list of commonly overlooked costs.
It doesn't seem like this would be easily forgotten, especially for a woman. But seriously, if I haven't convinced you in any of my blogs so far, planning your own wedding can fry your brain. Accessories are a vital part of your ensemble's finishing touch, so don't forget to add into the budget: garter, veil, jewelry, clutch, shoes, hairpieces, cuff links, tie bar, watch, etc.
As with accessories, undergarments are basic, but necessary items. Assuming you haven't yet purchased a dress at the time of setting your budget, you probably won't remember to factor in things like a corset, lingerie, bra, shape wear, slip, crinoline, you get the picture..
Yet another item that ties into apparel. This one is pretty big on the list because it's an easy one to overlook, and the costs can sneak up on you. When you imagine going shopping to buy the dress of your dreams, it's easy to be inclined to assume that it will fit you. Like in most situations, odds are you'll need some kind of work on the dress, so expect to spend at least a couple hundred dollars. Just in case!
Depending on the shape/design/weight of the invitations that you decide on, stamps are one thing you'll want to make sure is included in the budget. Let's say one stamp is $0.55 and you mail out 150 invitations. You're already spending $82 on stamps alone, and some stationery will require more than one stamp.
This should be at the top of your "Do Not Forget" list, but honestly most couples don't even consider the license until close to the wedding. Even then, the $20-$100 bill for a piece of paper comes as a surprise to most. So if you live in Kansas and you're calculating your budget, go ahead and jot down $85.50 to make your marriage legal!
Taxes, Service Fees, Tips
It's a no-brainer why this one is easily omitted. It's hard to allocate funds to something that isn't a physical object. Generally, couples tip their vendors between 15-20%. When the time comes to book vendors, check all of your contracts carefully to avoid hidden sales tax. Any miscalculation could cost you thousands of dollars in unexpected fees, especially in catering.
This is one where you're allowed to be a little lax, gifts are certainly not a requirement. However, if you're following etiquette, you should allot funds for thank-you gifts for some of the following: bridesmaids, groomsmen, other wedding party members, parents, grandparents, siblings, other friends/family that contributed, vendors/wedding helpers, and above all, each other.
Prenuptial Celebrations...aka Parties!!!
As if you weren't aware already, from the minute you're engaged to the day of the wedding, it's all about you! There are several different occasions that you and your family/friends get together to celebrate your love. It starts with the engagement party, then bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette party (or a couples' party), the rehearsal dinner, and possibly a post-wedding party.
Make sure to consider out-of-town guests that will need accommodations. You may offer to chip in, or cover the cost of their room, or you might be the one needing room and board. If the two of you are already living together and you want to follow the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony, one of you may need a hotel room. Or just somewhere for the bridal party to gather to get ready. Or maybe even the two of you staying the night right after the wedding.
Not that this one is easily forgotten, it just adds up quickly. And unfortunately, this category is mostly charged in the final month/weeks/days preceding the matrimony. It's not like you can spread out these expenses over the course of your planning season; a manicure won't last for months. So make sure you're prepared to splurge on things like mani/pedi, facial, massage, waxing, haircut/color, esthetics, tanning, etc...
Similar to the "gift" category, wedding favors aren't mandatory, it's just a kind gesture to thank your guests for attending. Ranging from $3 (per person) and up, depending on the size of your guest list, these can add up quickly. If your budget is getting tight, keep in mind that you can give just one favor per couple/family, or opt out of them altogether. Honestly, favors often end up forgotten or thrown away.
Wedding Day Meals
No, I don't mean the food that you blew your savings to have catered. It's SO easy to forget about breakfast and lunch while you're running around getting ready. At least this meal you can keep simple by having something delivered. It's going to be a long day, don't starve!
Speaking of meals, your vendors will need dinner as well. Just because your photographer/videographer/planner is a magnificent superhuman doesn't mean they don't need brain fuel. It's a long day for everybody, and although the vendor entrees are usually cheaper, just don't forget to allow for extra plates. It's better to have too much food than not enough.
It's inevitable that you will have those "lovely" guests arrive that didn't bother to RSVP, or even said they couldn't make it. What's worse is when your guests take it upon themselves to bring a surprise plus-one. Even if you think this behavior isn't typical of your attendees, it's basically unavoidable. So just anticipate unforeseen guests, and you should be A-okay.
Last but not least, (also not literally "last" because expenses will keep popping up out of nowhere) travel. Doubling back to out-of-town guests, if you have 'em, they'll need a ride. Again, you can choose to pitch in for their auto-service, or you might be the one in need of transportation. While you're not responsible for how guests get to and from the venue, you and/or your wedding party may need transit. Plus, on the down-side that a guest is too intoxicated to drive home, arrangements should be established ahead of time. And don't forget about renting that private stretch limo with the dangling tin cans and "Just Married" sign. Following the wedding is the time to start saving up again, but in the meantime, enjoy that getaway car!