‘Tis the season for wedding registries, bridesmaid dresses, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and every other expense imaginable related to getting married. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, summertime probably means spending a lot of time on two things: soaking up some rays and lounging in the sun and travelling to, attending and paying for weddings – and wondering how you’re going to stay out of debt in the process.
From airfare to a fancy destination wedding to the pressure of buying something from the wedding registry that seems thoughtful enough (i.e. not cheap), being a wedding guest can get really expensive, especially if you have multiple weddings in one summer. So if you’re staring at several wedding invites in front of you and you’re wondering how to make it happen financially, here are a few tips to saving money as a wedding guest:
Set a wedding budget and start saving. If you know that you have a few friends that are planning to get married this year or the next year, set a budget for yourself. Since you’ll need to stretch your dollar across multiple weddings, you’ll want to outline the costs in advance so you know how much you can spend for each one. And if you do know you’ll be attending weddings far in advance of the actual date, setting a budget early is a great way to start to get motivated to start saving early.
Don’t feel pressured to buy new stuff. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and extravagance of a wedding and feel the need to buy an entirely new outfit, look for the “perfect dress,” or update your suit just for the occasion. Unless new clothing was already on your list, it’s probably smarter to just show up with what you already have in your closet.
Pool together your money with others for the gift. When it comes to buying wedding gifts, it’s easy to get fixated on a dollar amount. Buying a gift from the registry or giving cash is an awkward exercise in, “How many dollars do I care about this person?” Consider instead pooling your money together with other friends or family members. Not only could it help you save money overall, but you’ll probably be able to buy something more memorable like a vacation or experience than you would have with just your own money.
Say no. This might seem like a heartless move, but the best way to save money as a wedding guest is to just say no to going to the wedding in the first place. It’s a different situation if you’re in the bridal party, but being invited to the wedding as a guest means it’s just that: an invitation that’s optional. If you absolutely can’t afford to go, is it really worth going into hundreds or thousands of credit card debt to make it happen? If you’re worried about what it would do to your relationship with the bride or groom, that’s really your call. Just be honest with them about your reasons for not going (cost and/or time), and hopefully if they’re close enough to you, they’ll understand your reasons and it won’t jeopardize your relationship.