I attended a wedding last weekend. My childhood best friend married her boyfriend of six years, and it was a beautiful, memorable occasion. She is the first of my good friends to get married, so it was inspiring to watch her solidify her future with the love of her life.
However, many of her friends who attended the wedding (including myself), are in their 20’s and early in their careers. In other words, money is tight. And attending a wedding is expensive.
According to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, guests spent about $700 per wedding in 2016, and for millennials, that number was $900. And that’s just for one wedding. On average, Americans attend about three weddings per year.
But, if you plan ahead of time, and budget for the wedding, you can end up saving money, especially on the three biggest expenses: travel, gifts, and clothing.
If you have to leave town for the wedding, then travel can easily be your biggest expense. This includes airfare, hotels, and ground transportation. If you’re traveling with a group of people, look into group rates, both for airfare and hotel accommodations.
Airlines and Hotels
Some airlines, including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United, offer group deals if you’re traveling with ten or more people.
In many cases, the bride and groom will negotiate a lower rate with hotels for a room block, however, don’t feel compelled to stay in the hotel of their choice. Shop around for nearby hotels that might offer a cheaper rate.
Also, look into travel agency deals. For example, Hotels.com offers a free stay after booking ten nights using their service.
Try to split the costs of taxis and ride shares with other people attending the wedding. This method also works if you’re renting a car. You’ll save on the rental price and on gas.
If you are buying from a gift registry, then don’t wait until the last minute to buy your gift. Couples often set aside items at high, medium, and low price points, so if you don’t want to be left choosing between a gift that’s over your budget, or something small and dinky, then be sure to check the registry early on to choose something that works for you.
If there’s something on the registry that is above your price point, then ask some friends to go in on the gift together. Also, in my friend’s case, she was asking for money to help fund her honeymoon. This turned out to be a favorable method for me because I was able to give as much as I could afford. I’ve also heard of couples asking for money to help them with a down payment for a house.
Take a look at the gift registry and see if you can find one of the items elsewhere for cheaper. If you are able to find a cheaper price for the same item, then buy the cheaper one! Just contact the original store and tell them to remove the item from the registry.
Sentimentality goes a long way. Think about framing an old picture of the bride and groom, or putting together a scrapbook of memories.
Also, if you’re a master at some sort of service, like baking or arranging flowers, then offer to help. You’ll make a memorable impact that won’t go unnoticed.
Here’s another biggie; clothes. If you’re attending a lot of weddings, then it’s going to be pricey to purchase a new dress for each one.
One option is to buy one dress, preferably in a neutral color, that can be worn on multiple occasions. Just switch up the shoes, bag, and jewelry.
And if you’re a man, then you’re in luck. Just buy one well-crafted suit and you’re set for quite some time. Just freshen up the suit by switching up dress shirts and ties.
Rent a dress for the wedding
Or, if you’d rather wear something new, but don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars, then consider renting a dress. Take a look at sites like Rent The Runway.
You Can Say “No”
And if you just don’t have enough money to make it to the wedding, or if you’re not close to the couple, then decline the invitation. You can always send a gift or a handwritten card in lieu of your presence.