Uncovering Hidden Wedding Reception Costs

Here are a few sneaky places vendors overcharge.

wedding costs

Surprised bride photo via Shutterstock

Unless it’s along the lines of the “All You Need Is Love” ceremony serenade in Love Actually, the last thing you want at your wedding is a surprise.

But delivery fees, setup and breakdown, and even extra workers at your reception can cost you cash without your even knowing. This leaves your final big day bill a big surprise.

Here are some hidden reception costs to watch out for and ways to prevent vendors from kicking you right in the budget.

Hotel Guest Gifts

The Secret Charge: You want to leave a welcome gift basket in your guest rooms, maybe snacks, bottled water, flowers, wine. It’s a little surprise to thank people. Your own surprise might be waiting. The hotel could add a delivery charge to your final bill.

How Much: Up to $10 per bag.

Just Say No: When you’re blocking off rooms, ask the hotel’s policy on delivering welcome bags to guests’ rooms. It might be cheaper for them to be held at the front desk and handed to your guests during check-in. But even then, they could charge you a holding fee if you drop them off before the guests arrive.

Wedding Band Equipment

The Secret Charge: When the bill comes, your band might be singing a different tune than their original rate. If your reception space is extra large, it’s possible that they’ll require more speakers and microphones for the best sound.

How Much: Hundreds to a few thousand dollars.

Just Say No: Give your DJ or band the reception space dimensions and size. This way they’ll know ahead of time and can quote you an accurate price for any extra equipment.

Chair Transport

The Secret Charge: Someone has to get those 200 ghost chairs to your reception. It’s possible that the caterer might charge an extra per-chair fee to transport them.

How Much: $50+.

Just Say No: It’s important to know what the shipping fees are for your rental company. If there’s a high delivery cost, try elsewhere.

Extra Help

The Secret Charge: It’s great if your venue has a baker, caterer, and florist you love. If they don’t, and you want to choose outside their circle of trust, some venues might tack on a fee.

How Much: 20 percent or more.

Just Say No: If you can, choose from the list of preferred vendors. If you don’t find the list to your liking, choose a venue without one.

Cakes and Champagne

The Secret Charge: If you choose your own baker, your reception venue might charge a slicing and serving fee for each tasty piece. The same goes with liquor at the bar, if it’s not from the reception site itself.

How Much: $2 to $5 per slice; $1.50 to $3 per bottle.

Just Say No: If you’re choosing an outside baker and liquor distributor, ask your venue about whether this will affect the overall event price.


The Secret Charge: At home, you clean and he takes out the trash. When neither of you is doing the chores because you’re busy getting married, someone else has to do it. The question is, who?

How Much: If you’re using a full-service venue, this probably won’t be an issue. But if you’re renting out a space for one fee, there will probably be a few others tacked on at the end of the evening. Think: garbage removal (up to $250) and clean up (up to $500).

Just Say No: The setup and breakdown costs should be included in the labor charge, so go through your contract line by line.

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