Hidden cost when planning your wedding

You have your budget and think you are done and dusted. But wait, there’s more! Suddenly hidden costs rear their heads, attempting to throw you off kilter. Unless you are an exceptionally obsessive-compulsive organizer, you probably won’t have all the hidden costs in your wedding plans. 

At Zion Springs, we understand how stressful it is to plan a wedding, and as an all-inclusive wedding venue, we can take care of all that for you; however, while you might not choose to go with an all-inclusive wedding venue, we still strongly feel that you should be knowledgeable about some of the hidden costs you may encounter in your wedding planning. 

The most common hidden costs you might experience prior to your wedding and on the day are listed below, with current prices quotes by The Wedding Report.


5  Hidden costs to look out for before your wedding

1. Wedding stationery and postage?

You have carefully and thoughtfully chosen your announcement cards and invitation, but believe it or not, some vendors do not include the envelope in your wedding announcements, so make sure you check for that.

Postage is a sneaky one and can really rack up costs, especially if you send announcements and invitations internationally. Postage for each mailing costs $0.48, which equates to $96.00 per 200 guests.

2. Wedding insurance?

There is such a thing, and it might be worth purchasing, especially if you are investing a large sum of money in your wedding. Think of all those folks who never anticipated Covid shutdowns and how much money they simply lost. 

Purchase your insurance before you book any vendors, and at the very least, consider purchasing insurance for cancellations or postponements and deposit loss. 

You may also want to cover any unexpected financial losses, such as

  •  illness
  • damages to venue property
  • rental breakages
  • theft of wedding gifts. 
  • There are additional policies for destination weddings. 
  • Look for special rates for military members. 

Couples pay an average of $275 for coverage.

3. Wedding trial runs?

Do the trial run! It is better to spend the additional money to ensure you get what you expect. There are better times to experiment than on the wedding day. Some vendors include the trial runs in their fees, so check with them first. 

These include:

  • Hair and make-up - $50-$150 per person
  • Wedding cake sampling - $20-$40
  • Catered meals/tasting fees - price of a meal for one person
  • Do-it-yourself decorations (don’t scoff, that crepe paper flower garland so lovingly designed and created by Auntie might look lost in the reception room.)

4. Attire and alterations

This applies to both before and after the wedding. If you borrow your attire, you should get it cleaned before and after the wedding, and be prepared to fork out around $200-$300. If you rent your wedding outfit, verify if dry cleaning is included in the rental fee. 

The bride can expect to have at least two fittings for alterations once the wedding dress is delivered.  Dresses from retail stores are standardized to a specific size, and you will need your dress tailored to your fit.  For the groom, you can expect at least one fitting, after you have chosen your outfit. 

Hint: Pack fabric spot cleaners for accidents on the wedding day.


Brides often expect their dresses to arrive ready to fit, and unless your dress is custom-made for you, it probably comes from the factory with approximate measurements. You will need a seamstress to adjust it to fit correctly. This applies to your bridesmaids and the groom's and groomsmen's outfits. 

Each outfit can cost around $150-$600.

5. Wedding contingency fund/backup plan

Anticipate a 10% overhead of your budget for contingencies. 

Most often this is for unexpected guests who turn up at the last minute. Your catering company will have enough food for a few extras who turn up on the day, and you will want to let them know as soon as possible that you have more guests.  They will need to include those costs in your invoice. 

5  Hidden costs on the day of the wedding

What is the average ceremony fee and permit cost?

Marrying at a registry office or an off-site venue requires a ceremony fee. These usually run around $30 for a registry office.  

You will likely need to obtain permits if you choose an outside venue or historical site.  The National Park Service charges $90 for their permit, and often the parks also charge entrance fees. 

Hint: Include a tip of around $50-100 to the officiant, the organist, and the musicians.


What are the delivery, set up, and pick-up costs for a wedding?

Sometimes, these are included in the final bill with your vendor; however, check with them first. 

These can cost around $100 and include:

  • Flowers
  • Wedding cake, beverages, food
  • Furniture (chairs, tables, tent, alters, arches, etc.)
  • Rental equipment (linens, china, glasses, flatware, etc.)
  • Sound and lighting equipment

How much are wedding reception rentals?

Be particularly detailed when selecting what you include in your rentals for the reception, as some items could be excluded, much to your surprise. 

Verify that these items are included (prices are average):

  • Setup and breakdown fees
  • Tables ($8) and chairs ($2 each)
  • Linens - tablecloths ($10+), napkins ($1+), chair covers ($2+)
  • China ($0.40-$0.60 per item)
  • Barware and glassware ($0.40-$1.80 per item)
  • Flatware ($0.40-$1.80 per item)
  • Arch or alter ($75)
  • Lighting ($200-$5000)
  • Audio/visual equipment ($200+)
  • Tents ($300)
  • Dance floor ($1000)

Hint: provide extra extension cords for those hard-to-reach outlets

How much are bathrooms for a wedding reception?

Everyone needs to go, and if you are in a natural setting, the bush behind the setup area will not cut it. You get what you pay for, so go for the most elegant you can afford. 

On average, you should have at least one restroom per 100 people. 

There are generally three options for bathrooms; standard, elegant, and luxury bathrooms. 

  • Standard >$50
    • Single unit, so you might need multiple bathrooms
    • Plastic finishes
    • Chemical long drop toilet
    • Separate wash station
  • Elegant $500-$1500
    • Trailer with multiple urinals and stalls
    • Plastic finishes 
    • Flushing toilets
    • Running water

United Rentals

  • Luxury $5000
    • Trailer with multiple enclosed stalls
    • Wood, granite finishes 
    • Flushing toilets
    • Running water

YML Portable Restrooms

Do venue requirements and restrictions cost money?

You have found a beautiful venue and want to bring your own vendor. Be prepared to pay for it. 

Some fees are:

  • fee for using an outside vendor, which can add up to 20% of their bill. 
  • food and beverage minimum charge
  • corkage fee if you bring your own alcohol, which can run around $2 per bottle
  • cake-cutting fees at $1.50 per slice
  • a coat check station?  That includes a fee for the attendant as well as the $9 per 100 guests average cost of a coat rack
  • overtime usage fees for your facility, should the unexpected happen and your event is delayed, or people are having too much of a good time partying
  • extra charge for setting up early.

Top 2 hidden costs for catering 

How much extra food and refreshments do you need for your wedding vendors?

It’s a long day, and you want to remember that your photographer, videographer, DJ, and musicians need to eat and drink as well. You don’t necessarily have to provide them with the same food as your guests, although you can be sure they perform better with a nice meal instead of some desultory pizza in a greasy box. 

Consider spending $7-$10 per person.

How much will you pay in taxes, tips, and service charges for your wedding?

Anticipate adding sales tax on everything, including services. Depending on the state where you get married, it can run up to 16%. Tips are generally 15% per person. Most venues charge a service fee of 18%-22%. With a $10,000 facility rental, that adds $1,800-$2,200 to your bill.

Am I prepared to budget for my wedding?

You are concerned that you don’t get any unexpected costs and unpleasant surprises when budgeting for your wedding.  With careful planning and thorough discussions with your vendors and service providers, you are more prepared to manage the costs of your wedding. Don’t be afraid to ask for detailed explanations of charges. If you are using an all-inclusive venue, check to see if there are any additional charges for items not listed on your price list. Use our checklist as a reference to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

Contact us at Zion Springs for a truly all-inclusive wedding.  Our website has prices and packages ready for viewing, and you can reach our wedding experience expert for an immediate response.

Further reading:

Checklist - what is our wedding going to cost?

(Note: no compensation was received for mentions and links)