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Smart couples know they need to plan ahead to create the wedding they want without letting the wedding expenses get out of hand. But that can be easier said than done, especially for such a big day.

Even when you try to set a reasonable budget, it's easy to get sidetracked by the things you forget to think about. You know the venue is going to eat up a lot of your wedding budget, and of course, there's the photographer and the cake. But what about the hidden wedding costs that sneak up on you?

Be prepared. Keep an eye out for these three hidden wedding costs that could break your budget if you're not careful.

1. Gifts for Other People

Wait a second — you're a part of the happy couple. Aren't you receiving the gifts?

Yes, but you probably should have a few to give out yourself. Many couples provide gifts for their wedding party and some members of the family to help commemorate the day and express appreciation for their love and support.

If you want to do this yourself, don't forget to include it as a line item in your budget.

2. Alterations to Your Dress

There's no way you're forgetting about your dress — but what you might forget to factor into the price tag of the gown itself is the cost of alterations to the dress. Very few wedding dresses will fit perfectly when they come off the rack.

At the very least, you may need to alter the length or adjust the bust and waistlines. Some brides go a step further and make changes to the structure of the dress itself. And depending on the style and material (and how difficult it is to change), your alternations could cost hundreds of extra dollars.

3. Taking Care of the Vendors

You already paid the caterer and the DJ. Those expenses are all taken care of, right? Maybe. What if your vendors include stipulations in contracts, like providing them with hot meals or a night at a nearby hotel.

Read over all contracts carefully before you sign them. Some requests are probably reasonable, like if your photographer, who will be shooting for 12 hours, requests a hot meal during the event. Include the cost of this in your wedding budget.

If any expenses seem totally outlandish, ask the vendor to explain them. If they can't or their requests aren't reasonable, don't sign the contracts. Look for other vendors instead.

Tips for a Better Wedding Budget

If you set out to make a budget for your wedding, you're on the right track. The first step: make sure you include both the obvious expenses and the hidden wedding costs mentioned here.

Of course, your budget shouldn't just be a giant wish list of things. A budget is designed to help you manage the expense of a wedding and can help you focus on what's truly a priority to spend money on. When you create a budget, keep these tips in mind:

  • Focus on what you value: This is your wedding. Don't feel obligated to have a big fancy soiree if you and your partner want to keep things small, informal and most importantly, affordable.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff: Prioritize the line items in your budget. A photographer will help you capture the day, so hiring a good one might be worth the investment. Spending a ton of money on wedding favors, though? Probably not worth it.
  • Remember that it's a big day, but only one day: You have the rest of your (financial lives) ahead of you. Don't financially compromise yourself and your new spouse to pull off a wedding to impress your friends. Build your budget, plan ahead and focus on what's really important to the two of you.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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