If you were to ask a married couple what the hardest thing was about planning a wedding, they would probably say staying within their budget. When you think you have finalized your budget, unexpected costs pop out of the blue. We all know weddings and their festivities can become expensive; you and your partner need to prepare for these hidden fees so they don’t sneak up on you.
We’re not trying to scare you but rather save you from shock when you see your bill at the end of the night. Here are eight unexpected wedding reception costs to be aware of so you can sleep peacefully knowing you’re prepared for all hidden expenses.
You should be prepared to pay a corkage fee if you provide an open bar at cocktail hour or your wedding reception. A corkage fee is a charge by the catering or bartending company that will provide your party with bottles of wine and liquor of your choice. This fee typically covers the bartender to uncork, pour, and serve to your guests. This fee varies, but it can cost up to $1,500; it’s always best to prepare yourself by budgeting a bit higher.
However, there are ways you can save a little money on cocktails by having signature cocktails or a self-serve bar for your guests.
Service fees are another charge from your venue to cover the expenses of hiring their coat checkers, parking attendants, servers, and other staff needed. Service fees typically cost 20–25 percent of the reception’s total drink and food expenses. However, if you’re considering exploring outside sources to lower your price, it’s important to note that it could raise your overall cost.
Since the venue’s staff is responsible for tending to the guests, cutting each slice of cake, and washing dishes, it could turn into more labor for the team. That extra labor could raise the price. When you meet with the venue’s coordinator, be upfront and ask about the services before inquiring with outside sources.
Taxes and Gratuities
Taxes and gratuities aren’t hidden, but most couples don’t prepare themselves for how much they’ll owe during the planning process. Taxes are gratuities on almost every service, and they usually don’t include it in their quotes upfront. However, there’s no way of avoiding taxes and gratuity fees; set aside extra money to give your vendors and their staff for their hard work and dedication to making your night perfect.
You should prepare guest transportation for your family and friends who had a good time at your wedding reception. To ensure that guests are safe, some couples will provide sober cabs or designated driving services to prevent impaired driving. However, you might be able to cut down costs by using Lyft or Uber services.
Wedding Band Equipment
The cost of a wedding band or DJ includes fees for their time entertaining your guests and the amount of equipment needed. However, suppose your reception space is larger than the average. In that case, you will need additional equipment like speakers and microphones to help project the best quality—which can be an additional cost. Be prepared to spend hundreds to several thousands of dollars on entertainment. Always meet with the musicians beforehand so they can look at the space and estimate how much equipment they would need so you can get a price.
Sometimes, the couple will already have made up their mind on the catering, bottle, or florist services they would like to use for their reception. If your venue has staff on hand or has a list of preferred vendors but you decide to use someone else, you could face extra fees and expenses. To help you save money, find venues that don’t require you to use their services or preferred vendors.
Breakdown and Cleanup Fees
When the fun is over, the venue doesn’t magically clean itself. Unless you booked a full-service venue, be prepared to pay for additional charges like garbage removal, cleaning, and breaking down chairs and tables. If your wedding is on the weekend, be ready to pay extra fees for a time and a half. Ensure you read your contract thoroughly and carefully to see what you’re paying for. The breakdown and cleanup expenses should be included in the labor charge.
Sometimes, we don’t want the party to end, but if you party all night, it comes with a fee. Your DJ, band, photographer, and venue staff is paid to work for a certain amount of time. If your wedding reception runs longer than expected, they’ll charge you per hour they’re over their specified time. Your best bet is to book with a realistic time frame and have overtime fees written in your contract to be prepared.
We don’t want to scare you; we want you to stay on track! Having a wedding is expensive, and it’s important that you’re prepared for all fees and expenses so nothing surprises you. We hope this article on unexpected wedding reception costs will motivate you to break out the planning spreadsheet and factor in additional fees.