8 Wedding Expenses You May Not Expect

by | Mar 1, 2020

So, you have carefully worked out expenses to the very last cent. What can possibly go wrong… go wrong…. Well, weddingwire.com reports that on average couples underestimate their wedding spend by nearly 45% –  so it seems, quite a lot can go awry.

A wedding budget is a girl’s best friend. Right up there with compact powder and champagne on the day. But statistics indicate that bridal couples often misjudge the wedding budget.

Millennials are virtually snubbing the idea of getting married in general, and stats show that couples are getting married later in life than before. The 30-year olds who live with mom and dad is no joke and a reality of our cash-strapped society.

Join us in this month’s blog as we look at those sneaky items that make you wish money grew on trees:



Weddingwire sheds some light on why bridal couples overspend on their wedding day and in this blog we are unpacking these little devils that create havoc with our financial planning and look at ways of pre-empting the problem or providing an ingenious solution.



So let’s start with an absolute pain in the derriere – when guest counts change.



While we all laughed so much that our faces hurt watching John and Jerry being professional wedding crashers in “The wedding crashers” movie, it’s no joke in real life.


A sure way to manage unexpected guests is to stay on top of your RSVP lists. If someone has not responded two weeks prior to your wedding, call them. By this time the venue would have insisted on final headcounts for catering purposes. Or task one of the Bridesmaids with this. There is nothing worse than striking their names off the guest list, only for them to arrive on the day. With unexpected arrivals a.k.a. wedding crashers, a number of things will happen – too little food, not enough seating and increased numbers/ food costs for your wedding. All the things you really want to avoid at all cost.



Wedding crashers and estranged relatives can be a real downer on a wedding night, so assign the task of subtly showing these uninvited guests to the door, to a calm groom’s man (with muscles). There will be guests who blindly ignore your “plus one” policy or “No children” at the wedding. Once again – this is something best pre-empted and handled beforehand.



Bridget Boakye, a contributor for Face2faceAfrica.com, wrote a thought-provoking article about things African guests do at weddings. And interestingly enough she says it is common for wedding guests to bring along some friends of their own.

“Most Africans have not been to an African wedding that isn’t overcrowded, but this is precisely what makes it fun. You are sure to meet a childhood friend and a too- distant aunt at any wedding you go to because someone is sure to invite someone who invites someone else.”


She adds that this is good fun for the wedding guests, but admits that it could cause havoc with a bride’s budget – especially if the wedding venue keeps tight control and count of wedding guests. Chances are that you will be handed a bill for the unexpected guests.

She also mentions that letting food go to waste is a taboo in many African Cultures. “Africans do make a ‘takeaway’ at every event they attend, but this behaviour is especially interesting at weddings. Many Africans will request a to-go plate, some drinks, and cake to accompany their meal home.”

As a bride you know your guests and we strongly believe in being prepared for all kinds of events. If you know that your wedding guests will want to do a little takeaway, make it a fun element of your wedding by providing eco-friendly carton containers:

These cute takeaway boxes from Henriette Borcherd’s literally takes the cake:


Durban-based Keypak has a wide selection of takeaway containers that can be easily personalised with a wedding sticker. We love the Chinese takeaway boxes:


As soon as that sparkly diamond slips onto your ring finger, you are out there shopping for an exquisite wedding dress to surpass all wedding dresses ever worn by a bride. It’s so much fun that you often start months in advance. Then, in the months leading up to the wedding, your body shape changes – stress has different effects on different personalities. Some brides wane away, others feed their fears.


Depending on where you fit on the (sliding) scale, a little dress alteration may be due and should be added to the wedding budget. Check with your dress designer or bridal shop if they provide alteration services. In some cases, this is included in the price of your dress.



Umhlanga-based Sposabella offers the latest in bridal trends and also friendly, helpful service. At Sposabella, there is no flat alterations fee:

”The charge is specific to your gown and your personal requests and can be discussed with the alterations person on your first fitting when she will give you an estimated cost.” Make a little provision in your budget, just in case.



All venues have a cut-off time. Since waiters and hotel staff are also human, they do need sleep and they are often up at sparrows fart the next morning to set up for the day’s functions. But yes, the Tequilas have been lined up, someone even asked for a vile Jägermeister (made with 56 herbs and spices, no less!) and the music is pumping. Who on earth wants to go home now?



Well, at an extra R5 000 per hour (or whatever the after-hours charge may be), you may think twice about it. Get your MC to make an announcement, slow down the music tempo and as a last resort, put the ugly, very bright neon lights on. Or the brightest lights the venue possesses. Tough love is sometimes called for. Anyone who wants to have an after-party somewhere else is most welcome.




On the subject of tequila and shots, this is one area where it is so easy to overspend. As a bridal couple, set a bar limit and stick to it. Or give a very sober-headed uncle, who can under no circumstances be bribed otherwise, the signing powers for the bar bill. It’s sorely tempting to raise the bar limit when the party is so much fun, but remember that there was a reason why you set a limit in the first place. You may just end up dry mouth and wine-less during your honeymoon if you spend all your booze money on your wedding guests.




African and Indian couples have an added budget dilemma when they opt to throw a Traditional Wedding celebration as well as a White Wedding. Precious, a bride featured on BontleBride.com, recommends to set aside some money for unexpected items:


“Always, always have a backup plan. And do not wait until the last minute to add something that is a big deal for you both. With us planning to have our white wedding we knew that for our traditional we could go without something because the minute you mention wedding to someone the prices just go up. Make sure that you still have money for your bills even after the wedding day because sometimes it’s not that we intentionally forget but when you are planning your wedding that’s your only focus and you tend to forget about other life events.”



A new trend emerging, is to combine the White Wedding and Traditional Wedding, which results in huge savings.


Stella Anokam, founder of Naija Glam Weddings is an experienced and award-winning project manager and business consultant, so she is well-equipped to advise on budgets.


“Having the traditional and White Wedding on the same day helps couples save from 50% of the wedding costs, (compared to) if they did it on separate days.”


According to Stella, some couples choose to have the White (religious) Wedding first or in the morning and later have the Traditional Wedding and combined reception party. Many brides are concerned about how to structure the day to combine both weddings, and in her article, she offers a checklist as well as some practical tips such as booking a hotel room close to the reception venue and having a double-duty hairstyle.




Chances are you will be getting ready for most of the day and if you are not at home but in a hotel, you will need sustenance to get you through the day. You will have bridesmaids, your mom and perhaps sisters with you throughout the preparations and let’s face it, we don’t want anyone to go hangry.


Platters with an assortment of items are fantastic – insiders tips – go slow on the bread, you don’t want to bloat yourself two dress sizes bigger. And remember the champagne. But once again, in moderation.


Hydrate, hydrate all day long. You don’t want to have mild stress or hangover headache by 3h00 in the afternoon. Not pleasant and not pretty. Nibbles, of course, come with a price tag and are essential, so make sure to budget for eats while preparing for the wedding.


The groom and his groom’s men will also need sustenance, perhaps something more substantial than the recommended girly platters in your room. The word “bloating” does not exist in male vocabulary, so a juicy hamburger would make them very happy.



How long is a piece of string? And where does one allocate the pre-wedding costs such as trial hair and make-up, beauty treatments and bachelor and bachelorette parties?


If you plan well, some of the costs can be absorbed in your monthly budget, such as beauty treatments. You need to scrutinize costs – is this a must-have or nice-to-have?


The slippery slope of nice-to-haves includes gifts for the bridesmaids and the bridal party, and the pre-wedding or rehearsal dinner.


By the time you are getting married chances are pretty good that you have met the parents and some of the siblings on both sides. No need for a hefty dinner and drinks bill – coffee and cake will also suffice if there really is an important wedding itinerary to discuss. Why not do a special high tea for fun?


There are many items you can easily cross off the list, but forgetting to budget for a wedding official and marriage license is a deal-breaker. You will be off to a rocky start without this. And then there is the question of a honeymoon budget….


Fawn Weaver, relationship blogger, and author of “Happy Wives Club” wrote:

“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. Mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.”


Budgeting is all about priorities and as “Team Wedding”, your common goal is to have the best wedding you can afford. Get this right and your success for a long marriage is almost guaranteed!



She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.


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