Wedding budgeting. It’s one of the first things you and your partner will fight about—uh, I mean, discuss—after the dust of being newly engaged has settled and you sit down to start planning your Chicago wedding.

It’s a no-brainer that you’re going to need to budget for the “big-ticket items”—venue, catering, photography. You also know to budget for invitations, flowers and your cake, which is great. But what about the other stuff?

The other stuff, you ask? Yes, the other stuff. Below are nine areas of planning that are easy to forget. Read on so you can be best prepared for the adventures ahead.

1. Can We Take This Up About a Foot?

You found your dream dress—all that gorgeous lace and intricate beading. You budgeted for your wedding dress (great job!), and this dress comes in $25 UNDER budget (woo hoo!) but … it’s too long, and you’ll need to get cups sewn in and, and, and… alterations can add up quickly. Depending on the gown, it can add $250-$750 or more to the dress. Make sure to have a little wiggle room in your wedding budget in case you need them to add a little wiggle room in your dress.

2. Girl, You Looking Gooooood

Everyone has different advice on this, but my rule is, if you’re requiring your bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup professionally done, you should pick up the tab. For both services, you should be prepared to pay $180+ for each gal.

3. Welcome to Chicago!

wedding favors

Photo by Metts Photo

Because Chicago is a city many couples have relocated to and now call home, there are going to be quite a few out-of-town guests coming in for the wedding. Welcome bags are a wonderful treat to greet those who have traveled to celebrate with you. On top of the bag and all the goodies you’ll purchase to fill it up, you’ll want to review your agreement with the hotel—many hotels charge a handling fee to pass out welcome bags as guests check in or to have them placed in their rooms ($3-$5 per bag).

4. The Suite Life of Zack & Cody

hotels in chicago

The Drake Hotel/Photo by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

Having a large suite in your chosen hotel for the weekend is worth every penny. Not only does it make you feel like the power couple that you are for a few days, it also allows you to spread out a bit during a very busy and exciting weekend. Plus, it can serve as an ideal spot for hair and makeup teams to beautify the wedding party. Depending on what you work out with the hotel, this can be an additional $285-$1,000 or more a night. And, you’re going to want it for the night before the wedding as well as the night of the wedding.

5. The Pre-Wedding Party

Traditionally the rehearsal dinner was an expense picked up by the groom’s family. But times, they are a changin’. Many couples are investing in not only their wedding day but also activities spread out over the whole wedding weekend, and they’re paying for things like rehearsal dinners and day-after brunches on their own.

6. Isn’t Asking Them To Be In Your Wedding Enough of a Gift?

Nope. It’s great to thank the members of your wedding party for helping you get to this day (in one piece and without going out of your mind) with a gift from the heart. General rule of thumb? Be prepared to spend $75-$150 per bridesmaid and $50-$100 per groomsman.

7. Makin’ It Rain

Review your contracts carefully to determine whether gratuity is already factored in. Most commonly with transportation companies, it will be. With your other Chicago wedding pros, it usually is not. Gratuity is never expected but always appreciated, so if your pros have gone above and beyond, giving them a little extra is a great way to show your appreciation.

8. Say Cheese

chicago photo booth rental

Photo Booth provided by Ed & Aileen Photography

Photobooths. Still cool! A huge hit at weddings. Your guests have fun making goofy faces, and you get to keep all the photos to use as blackmail material later in life—it’s a win-win. A great photo booth is going to run you $900-$1,200. Plus, keep in mind that all those sweet props you’ll have to bring along cost money too!

9. Icing on the Cake—The Fun Stuff!

chicago wedding planning

Photo by Metts Photo

As you go through the planning process you may have an idea come to mind, something that would be SO awesome to have at your wedding (like, hiring a rapper!) because it is truly a reflection of you as a couple and all your guests are going to love it … and it is going to cost another $1,000 to do it. Budget for this! Always have a “for a rainy day” category in your budget. It can cover you when you go over your budget in one area of the planning, or it can help bring a really fun, late-in-the-game idea to life.


Real talk, budgeting is no walk in the park, and you should probably just hire a planner to help you with it.

I mean, who else is going to have extensive knowledge of the Chicago wedding industry, can educate you on what investments are going to look like, and can tell you, most importantly, where to splurge and where it’s OK to be a little conservative? With our advice and guidance, not only can we help you bring your vision to life, but our services often pay for themselves. How cool is that?

To learn if we’d be a match made in heaven, head over here to find out!