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You might be tempted to be over optimistic with your budget in order to reach your dream wedding. In reality it is super stressful to encounter costs that you haven’t planned for. It is wise to consider every possible charge from the outset and avoid spoiling your wedding experience with last minute debt or by having to make up the shortfall with your gift money. For most this is a once in a lifetime event so it is understandable that you just might not think of everything. Here is a list of commonly overlooked wedding costs to help you ensure that your budget is complete.

  1. VAT

At Hudson’s venue we include VAT in all of our advertised venue, menu and beverages prices. Be aware that this is not the case with all venues and providers. It is best to ask upfront if prices are inclusive. Since VAT in South Africa is set at 14% and weddings are never claimable, this could be a hefty financial surprise.

  1. Service fees

Additionally most venues will levy a 10% service fee – either on your total bill or on the food and beverages portion. Be sure to ask for clarification on this if you are unsure.

  1. Feeding your service providers

It might aggrieve you to fork out extra to cater for photographers and DJs. Bear in mind that they will be working long hours including preparation and it’s not practical for them to bring a packed lunch. Check your contracts and speak to them openly. You don’t necessarily have to serve the same menu to providers. At Hudson’s venue we offer less expensive alternatives on request and a service provider table can be provided to save on décor costs.

  1. Feeding yourselves

Plenty of brides and grooms forget to add themselves to their final headcount. Even though you are the stars of the show, catering for the two of you needs to be accounted for.

  1. Gifts

It is customary for the bride and groom to purchase special thank you gifts for their parents, the bridal party and each other. This is not essential and doesn’t need to break the bank. If it’s something you want to do, think about this now rather than add it in at the last minute without having properly planned.

  1. Favours

On top of gifts for those closest to you on your big day it is also generally expected that you provide a small gift for each guest called a “favour”. This can be anything from chocolates to tiny succulent plants. Even a small price soon becomes a big number when you multiply it by your number of guests. You might decide to save money by making gifts yourselves or by only giving one per couple. Packaged prettily, favours can double up as part of your décor. Some couples opt to forgo this added expense altogether.

  1. Dress alterations and hair and make-up trials

These are two charges that can easily be forgotten. Discuss upfront with your dress provider and hair and make-up artist what costs these services will carry as they are usually not included. You don’t want to find them added to your invoice afterwards having not budgeted accordingly.

  1. Undergarments and accessories

This is another cost personal to the bride that you’ll want to plan for. Lingerie, jewellery, veil and shoes can rack up a considerable bill you might not have thought about. Borrowing family heirloom jewellery can be both sentimental and cost-saving. Veils can be hired as opposed to purchased.

  1. Getting ready

If you’re not getting ready at home don’t assume that your accommodation will provide early check-in allowing you time to dress and prepare. You may need to book the night before or pay a fee to have access to your room during the morning. Remember that you and your bridesmaids will also need to arrange breakfast or lunch costing more bucks.

  1. Sound for the ceremony

Most weddings will require a PA system and microphone for the ceremony to provide music for you to walk down the aisle and ensure that the marriage officer can be clearly heard by all of the guests. Your DJ will arrange this for you but often at an additional charge.

  1. Wedding stationery

This is not just invitations. You also need to consider table numbers, a seating chart, menus and orders of service. Place names or tags for favours are not required but may be desired.

  1. Corkage and cake cutting

If you plan to provide your own wine ensure you know what the corkage fee is. Similarly, most caterers will charge a small extra fee per person if you would like your cake to be cut, plated and served to your guests. You could choose to take the cake home with you or serve cupcakes instead to eliminate this cost.

  1. Water

A new reality for the Cape Town bride – your venue can no longer responsibly serve free tap water due to the current drought. Even under normal circumstances you may prefer to have bottled. It’s not a massive cost but it’s worth thinking about.

  1. Expecting the unexpected

Wedding planners recommend adding a further five to ten per cent to your budget to allow for any unforeseen problems. This could be something like a last minute invitation for an old friend that is suddenly back in town or a minor crisis such as having to replace something important that is damaged or missing.

  1. Post wedding costs

The expense doesn’t end on your wedding day! Plan for the dry-cleaning of your dress afterwards, thank you cards, printing photos and the possibility of any breakage fees.


At Hudson’s venue we pride ourselves on our transparency regarding costs and will gladly help you plan your budget. To explore all of our rates download an information pack.

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