7 Unexpected Costs That Could Ruin Your Wedding Budget

Walking down the aisle is quite possibly the most expensive party you will ever throw in your life. In fact, the national average cost for a wedding in 2014 was a staggering $31,000, according to a survey conducted by wedding guru site, TheKnot. That's enough money for a respectable down payment on a house in many parts of America.

Just where is all the money going? Here are seven costs that are sure to ruin your wedding budget if you aren't careful, and a few tips to avoid that from happening.

1. Location, Location, Location

This term is often used in real estate, but also applies when it comes to planning a wedding. Locations can be fancy, like grand hotel ballrooms, or simple like casual backyard affairs. Just where you decide to have your wedding can take up a sizable portion of your wedding budget. According to TheKnot, wedding venues take up over $14,000 of that $31,000 average.

Saving the Dough

If you are looking to save money, ask around and find someone who is willing to rent you their nice backyard for a small fee, or negotiate a discount with a more traditional wedding venue for an off night, like say a Monday or Wednesday. Another option is to try for an alternate time of year, say winter when weddings aren't as common. (See also: This One Wedding Trick Will Save You Thousands)

2. Peek-a-Boo Costs

Many people forget to budget for expenses that seem to come out of nowhere. For example, it's customary to tip the staff at the venue 10%–20% at the end of the night. That's on top of the fee you've already paid them. Or what about alterations to make that wedding dress perfect? Those can run into the hundreds. Another peek-a-boo cost is parking fees. Your guests are going to need a place to park, and if you're having a VIP moment and want to pay for all the parking, be sure to add $250+ to your already exploding budget.

Saving the Dough

Cut out the extra expenses that guests don't expect you to pay for like parking, call on your Aunt Nancy who's a great seamstress for alterations to the dress, and use friends as servers if possible.

3. Roses Are Red

There is no doubt that flowers are magical. Not only do they smell amazing, but they also add a certain polished quality that every wedding longs for. Roses, the most favored wedding flower, also happen to be the most expensive wedding flower. A dozen roses can cost upwards of $20. Don't forget bouquets and boutonnieres.

Saving the Dough

Find a local flower mart where you can purchase flowers the day before your wedding for a significant discount. Many florist shops will also have last minute deals on the flowers that are left over, which would make equally amazing tabletop decorations at a fraction of the cost.

4. Say Cheese

Spending $5,000 on wedding pictures is so 2014. It's a given that you will probably spend the first year looking back over your thousands of pictures and reminiscing. However as time goes on, the urge to recount every last detail captured in pictures is somewhere near the bottom of the to-do list. With social media sharing, and every wedding guest essentially being a private wedding photographer, it's easy to still capture every moment, without the hefty expense.

Saving the Dough

Use a wedding app like WedPics, where you can create a free app that will let your guests upload unlimited wedding pics and videos to your own personal site. This way you can still capture Uncle Bobby's long-winded wedding speech, but do it on a budget.

5. Cheers

The endless debate rolls on whether a wedding requires an open bar, or a cash bar. It's obvious that the open bar can be a silent budget killer. Inevitably, there are one or two guests that have waited until this moment to see how many martinis they can drink in a five-hour span. The most expensive drinks at a wedding are anything that is classified as a mixed, or specialty drink, that requires hard alcohol.

Saving the Dough

If you don't have the stomach for a cash bar, think about drinks that aren't expensive like beer and wine. If possible, cater in your own alcohol that you can purchase from a discount merchant like Costco or Sam's Club. Better yet, have an open bar for a few hours, and then switch to a cash bar.

6. Plus One

If there was ever a time to RSVP, it is for a wedding. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the importance, and instead show up without RSVPing or, worse yet, they RSVP for one, and bring a guest or two. Wedding budgets everywhere just throw their hands in the air. At $50–$100 a head, if 10 extra people showed up, that's an extra $500–$1000 in costs that weren't accounted for.

Saving the Dough

Make RSVPing easy for guests by offering online options like RSVPify. Another idea is to add a healthy pad into the wedding budget of 15%–20% so you are prepared for any plus one catastrophes.

7. Where's the Beef?

Right behind location costs, food costs are the second highest expense. Why do we feel the need to always serve guests a gourmet five-course meal at $100 a head? Just because it's common, doesn't mean it's good for your budget. Guests are also used to having choices at weddings. Would you like the chicken, fish, or beef? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that beef is the highest priced entrée on the menu. On average, beef costs $8–$10 more than its chicken or fish counterparts, and yet beef happens to be the most requested dish on any wedding menu.

Saving the Dough

The easiest solution is to obviously avoid serving beef. However, there are many options to incorporate beef that will still offer the luxury feel, without the luxury price. Try serving a beef appetizer, where one steak will serve many.

Do you have any wedding saving tips? Tell us about them.

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