It’s officially June and wedding season is without a doubt upon us. While we’re all for lots of love, beautiful bouquets, tearful toasts, and a good old fashioned late-night rendition of Sweet Caroline (…“so good, so good, SO GOOD!”), we’re also the first to admit that these cheerful occasions can do some serious damage to those budgets.
According to a recent study by The Knot, the average cost to attend a wedding in 2018 was $800. The average cost as a member of the wedding party amounts to around $1,000….and that’s the average! We know no two weddings are the same, but when you begin to factor in things like bridal showers, wedding gifts, bachelorette parties, hotel rooms, and outfits, the costs to attend your loved one’s most special day begins to really take its toll.
Worried you’re not going to be able to survive #weddingszn? Well, pop that bubbly, girlfriend, because we’ve got you covered! Below, we’ve recapped some of our top tips to navigating wedding season on a budget.
The minute you see the glowing couple announcing their recent engagement on social media, get the budget out and begin crunching the numbers. Make a list of every wedding you expect to be attending and begin drafting a savings plan. According to Brides Magazine, the average length of an engagement is 12 to 18 months. Make a game plan of how you plan to save some money each of those months leading up to the big day so that you can select “YES! YES!” instead of “I’ll be toasting from afar!” on your invitation reply card.
Out of town or destination weddings can be very pricey if you haven’t planned accordingly. In order to minimize your travel expenses, consider booking ahead using the couple’s hotel block/discount code, or consider renting a house via Airbnb to share with a few friends. Not only will sharing a home allow you to save a few dollars, it also provides a place for the group to convene and prepare meals instead of relying on nearby cafes or bars. If you do choose to go the hotel route, consider asking a friend to share the room with you. Again, planning ahead and making plans with other wedding-goers can greatly reduce your out of pocket expenses!
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to purchase or wear a new dress for each separate wedding you attend. While weddings certainly can provide a good excuse for picking up that new cocktail dress you’ve had your eye on, you definitely don’t need to shell out big bucks to look a million dollars at your event. These days, many retailers offer clothing rental programs, including popular sites like Rent the Runway (click here to get $30 off your first order!) and The Black Tux (for the guys). Don’t feel like renting? Try borrowing a few options from a trusted friend, or better yet, swap your favorites for some new options from their closet.
Another option? Mix and match your accessories to update and change your look. Sure, you may have worn that trusty black dress to a wedding last summer, but with a new hairdo, earrings, shoes, and other jewelry, you can likely update the look without having to invest in a whole new outfit.
While the easiest route is likely to purchase something off the couple’s registry, these options are not always the most cost-effective (especially when you add in shipping and gift-wrap!). Instead, dig through any saved gift cards or store credits you already have and see if you can’t find a great option at those retailers.
Other ideas? Peruse Etsy or Minted to find a gift you can customize for the happy couple. Years from now, your blushing bride may not remember who gifted them their set of steak knives, but chances are good she’ll never forget who gave her a personalized set of stationery with their new married name. Another creative DIY option – consider framing the couple’s wedding invitation in a beautiful frame and including with it a thoughtful and heartfelt message. Between all of the hoopla and logistics that go in to planning a wedding, it is quite possible that the couple might forget to hold on to such a treasured memento and would truly appreciate you doing this for them!
Finally, if all else fails, consider buying a gift card for the couple to enjoy at their favorite restaurant or café when newlywed life slows down. They’ll be so excited to use your gift to enjoy a night of cocktails or appetizers and reminisce on their amazing day!
At the end of the day, you can’t be everything to everyone. If the costs seem too great to overcome, it may make the most sense to decline the invitation. In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to attend every wedding you’re invited to, but your budget simply may not allow for this. If this is the case, be honest with your friend and explain your situation. However, if you do choose to decline the invite, be sure to still follow up and send a thoughtful gift. After all, you’ll still want to acknowledge the magnitude of the occasion and show your love and support!
Author: Brittan Leiser
Brittan Leiser is a Financial Advisor in Cleveland, Ohio. Brittan created AdvisHER after recognizing that in the male dominated financial industry, women often felt ignored or overwhelmed when it came to having a conversation about their own personal finances. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Brittan is passionate about helping clients understand their financial options in order to achieve their true potential.
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