With spring on our doorsteps, the wedding invitations are pouring into our mailboxes. Wedding season has started, which means friends, family, coworkers, people you haven't seen since high school all seem to be getting married this year, and all of them want you to be a part of their big day.
While weddings and receptions can be a fun time, they can also quickly put your finances in jeopardy. Everyone knows how expensive it is to plan a wedding, but very seldom do we discuss the cost of attending weddings. Whether you have one or ten weddings to go to this year, it's important to be frugal. Here are some tips to save money this wedding season:
1. Set a budget
If you know you have five weddings to attend this year, set a budget for your expenses. Become familiar with an exact dollar amount that you want to spend and then divide it smartly between the weddings. This budget will involve not only the gift, but also the outfit that you may have to buy and the travel expenses that you may incur. You can either choose to divide the budget equally between the weddings or allot more to a specific wedding if you know one couple more intimately than another. Either way, stick to your budget.
2. You don't have to buy gifts from the registry
One of the biggest expenses of attending a wedding is the price of giving a gift. Many people fear making a faux pas by not giving a specific gift. While registries are important to consider, contemplate other avenues. First, remember that your average newlyweds are not going to remember the specific items on their registry or who gave what gifts. If the couple are not close friends, peruse their specific registry to get an idea of what they're expecting and then check other stores and websites that might have similar items on sale or for a lower price.
If you're creative and have an idea of what the couple may like, consider going off the registry and gifting them something more personal than the items listed. Don't go too overboard, though—registries exist for a reason. These are items that the couple has specifically picked out for themselves.
3. Don't give a cash gift
In some places, it’s custom for wedding guests to give cash in lieu of gifts. When I first moved to New York, my friend, who had grown up in Queens, informed me that "everyone gives $100 as a gift" because it offsets the cost of the reception. While that's a nice gesture, couples are not expecting you to help pay for their wedding. Typically, you would need to give more cash than you would spend on your average gift in an effort to not appear stingy. Yes, it is easier to just throw money into a card than it is to shop for a gift, but make sure you remember your budget and don't let laziness get the best of your wallet. Planning ahead will save you money.
4. Don't shower
By that I mean bridal shower. If your budget can't handle it, don't attend all of the extra occasions that go along with weddings if you will be expected to spend money or give an additional gift. These events, which include things like showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties, can really become expensive if you're attending multiple weddings. If you must go and must bring a gift, consider giving a small, thoughtful token to show your appreciation.
5. Plan outfits in advance
In the early warm months, most stores are having seasonal sales. If you’re someone like me, who would rather die than wear the same outfit to multiple functions, make sure you’re planning ahead for the weddings that you’re RSVPing to. I promise, it will be a lot easier to find a cute, marked-down outfit appropriate for a wedding in late April or early May than it will be in June or July.
If you know that you’re going to want to buy yourself a new outfit for an upcoming wedding, start shopping the day you get the invitation. Don't procrastinate and end up paying full price because you couldn't find anything you liked on sale the week of the wedding.
6. Be smart about traveling
Whether the wedding is a ten-minute drive from your house or a ten-hour flight, spend responsibly when it comes to travel. If you have mutual friends with the couple, set up a carpool to and from the wedding. Make sure you choose a designated driver because alcohol is abundant at receptions. Not only is drunk driving reckless and dangerous, DUIs are expensive! As are speeding tickets, so leave with plenty of time to get to the wedding. If you're flying to a destination wedding somewhere that you have wanted to vacation at, consider coordinating your yearly vacation with the wedding. Extend your time at the location and look at the wedding as an extra activity.
This is a guest post by Brett W. from New York, NY.