The costs of being a wedding guest really add up. You have the wedding, the bridal shower and possibly a bachelorette party and engagement party to attend as well. Especially if you have more than one wedding to attend, attending weddings get very expensive quickly. Saving money as a wedding guest is critical if you want to be there for your friend’s special day. While it’s exciting when your friend gets engaged, we all know that excitement starts to wear when you see your credit card bill and those wedding checks cashed during wedding season. So, how can you attend weddings, and also have money to pay your own bills? In order to save money as a wedding guest you need to create a budget for how much you’ll spend attending weddings and stick to it. Here are ways to save money as a wedding guest.
Create A Budget For Wedding Season
In order to save money as a wedding guest, you need to know your limit on how much you will spend attending weddings each year. How much are you willing to spend to attend each wedding? How much are you willing to spend attending weddings this year? This includes the weddings, the bachelor or bachelorette parties, the engagement parties and the bridal showers. If you’re traveling to a wedding, include all costs you’ll incur that weekend. Don’t forget to estimate the outfit costs.
Next, create a good estimate of how much you’ll spend on weddings for the year based on the weddings you’ve been invited to. Add a bit of a buffer in case there are engagements and/or weddings you get invited to later on in the year. The table below is a good way to develop that first estimate.
Sticker shock? Same. Below are a few ideas to attend weddings without going broke.
As much as your friends want you to be a part of their big day(s), if they’re really your friend they don’t want you to end up broke because you attended their wedding. It’s important to remember it’s a lose lose lose situation for your friend, yourself, and your wallet if you do this.
Save Money By Skipping The Bridal Shower
Are you a bridesmaid? If not, save money attending weddings by skipping the bridal shower. Do this especially if attending a bridal shower involves a flight. Send a gift from the registry or chip in with a group of friends for a larger gift. If you do attend, check out additional ways to save money attending a bridal shower.
Save Money By Skipping The Bachelorette
Attending every bachelorette (or bachelor party) you’re invited to will cost you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. Are you a bridesmaid or groomsman? If not, consider skipping the bachelorette or bachelor party. It’s not fun for you or the bride / groom if you attend and then are stressed the entire time about spending money while there. If you still want to do something for the bride / groom at the bachelorette / bachelor party and can’t afford to attend ask a friend to buy a bottle of wine or champagne on your behalf and reimburse your friend. It’ll show the bride / groom you are thinking about them and you don’t have to worry about spending too much money.
If you do decide to attend the bachelorette party, there are plenty of ways to save money attending a bachelorette party. Splitting a hotel room, carpooling or sharing an Uber and limiting the nights you participate in the bachelorette party are a few ways to save money when attending a bachelorette party.
Save Money Attending The Wedding
Use Credit Card, Hotel, Airline and Car Rental Points
One way to reduce the cost of attending weddings is to use credit card, hotel, airline and car rental points for wedding travel. Mentally, it will make you feel better about spending less money on attending weddings. However, you always had the option of using these points for other travel so you should be careful about justifying using points as a way to save money.
Save Money On Wedding Flights
If you will need to fly to the wedding, book your flight early! Use Hopper to track flight prices as soon as you get the invite and buy when tickets are low. If you wait too long, ticket prices are guaranteed to go up.
Do you travel for work? Is your work travel unpredictable? If work travel doesn’t allow for early booking of flights look for opportunities to align a work trip to a wedding. Sometimes, you’ll be able to have one or both legs of a flight paid for with this approach.
Save Money On The Wedding Lodging
Stay with Family or Friends
The cheapest lodging option is to stay with family or friends. Even if it’s a bit of a drive, it can be cheaper to be a little farther and Uber instead of paying for a hotel. If your friends / family are attending the same wedding offer to pay for the transportation to / from the wedding or pay for a meal.
Share a Hotel Room
The hotel is one of the most expensive parts of the wedding. If you need to save money when attending a wedding, splitting the hotel with friends will make a huge difference. This is especially true if you just graduated college. You just spent 4 years sleeping 2 feet from a roommate, sharing a hotel will feel like a dorm. As you age this will become a less attractive option so save money by splitting a hotel room here while you’re young.
Wedding Guest Outfit
Your Wedding Guest Dress
Let’s be real, with social media there are only so many times you want to wear the same dress. Don’t spend $200-400 on a dress and justify it you’ll wear it all the time. You’ll probably wear it 2-3 times max.
If you and your friends are similar sizes, the best way to save money on your wedding guest outfit is to borrow it. This way, you each can rotate your outfits and only have to buy one dress. The second cheapest option is to buy a dress second hand and sell it after you know you’re not going to wear it any longer. You can also rent a dress on Rent The Runway but sometimes this ends up being more expensive than the two options above. If you are going to buy a dress, plan ahead so you can get it on sale.
If you buy a wedding guest dress (second hand or new) and you’re not going to wear it again, sell it so it lessens the net cost.
Wedding Guest Accessories
Buy the essential accessories ahead of time when you find a good sale. You’ll always have something that goes with the dress and can take advantage of sales.
- Shoes: open toe / heeled sandals in nude, black, gold and silver. The shoes I bought are no longer sold, but the newer version of BP shoes are, and are only $60!
- Purse / clutch: nude, black, gold, silver. I found the best deals at the Kate Spade Outlet Store when they were having a sale and got a sparkly clutch for $50.
- Jewelry: invest in nice pieces that will go with anything such as diamond studs or get a few pieces of classic costume jewelry.
Save Money By Not Bringing A Wedding Guest To The Wedding
If you have a significant other it is nice to attend weddings together. But, this also increases the cost. At minimum, you have to give a gift for two people instead of just yourself. This will save you $50- $150 depending on how much you gift the bride and groom. If you have to fly, this easily adds another couple hundred dollars there as well.
Save Money On The Wedding Gift
How much should you spend on a wedding gift? Give what you can afford, but spend at least $50 per person. The Knot outlines proper wedding gift etiquette here. In the estimations above, I used $150 which is the high end etiquette for a close friend and low estimate for an urbanite.
Skip The Wedding All Together
As mentioned in the beginning, attending a wedding is expensive. If you can’t afford to attend a wedding don’t go. Saving money as a wedding guest sometimes entails saying no. Weddings are expensive for the bride and groom too, so if you feel bad remember how much it costs the bride and groom per plate. Attending weddings are not worth going into debt for. Studies also show that 40% of Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense. Don’t be that person that can’t cover a $400 emergency expense because you spent too much money attending weddings. Saving money as a wedding guest isn’t always easy, true friends will understand if you’re unable to make the wedding due to cost.
What other ways have you saved money as a wedding guest?