How to Save Money During Wedding Season

Wedding invitations are piling up on your desk and all you can think is: “How will I ever afford this?” You want to support your friends and celebrate love. But let’s face it, wedding season can wreak havoc on your wallet — especially if you’re attending multiple weddings in the span of a few months.

According to data from the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, wedding guests in 2016 were expected to spend $703 — per wedding. Even worse, millennials spent about 27 percent more, or an expected $893 for every nuptial. With Americans slated to attend an average of three weddings per year, the costs of being a wedding guest can easily surpass the $2k mark.

So what can you do to save money during wedding season? Read on to learn more.

Save money on airfare

Traveling costs to get to the wedding can take the biggest chunk out of your budget, especially if it’s a destination wedding. To save money on flights, timing is everything.

Based on research from CheapAir.com, the best time to book travel is between one and three and a half months prior to the wedding. You can also use Yapta and Hopper to track prices so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Lower costs on lodging

Do you have other friends attending the wedding as well? If so, share an Airbnb and split the cost. If you’re flying solo, see if you have any friends in the area that are willing to host you or let you stay at their place. You may be in luck. Last year I attended a wedding and stayed at my friend’s place while he was out of town. It worked out perfectly.

You can also use sites like Orbitz, Hotwire, Trivago, and Travelzoo to look for the best deals. If you’re willing to wing it, you can always use the Hotel Tonight app, which offers discounts on unsold rooms booked at the last-minute. For those looking to seriously save on lodging, consider a hostel or CouchSurfing.

How to gift on a budget

Wedding gifts are a big part of the wedding process.  But if you don’t play your cards right, you could be paying the price — literally.

Many wedding registries have tiered-prices — some low priced gifts, moderately priced gifts, and higher priced gifts. Guess which ones go first? If you don’t want to get priced out of affordable gifts from the registry, purchase a gift early on!

If you don’t act fast, you could also give cold hard cash and choose an amount you can afford. Based on the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, cash came in second place for wedding gift preferences, behind gifts from the registry.

If neither a registry gift or cash fits your budget, you can always make a gift yourself. In the digital age, a printed photo and frame can go a long way. Check out more DIY wedding gifts for a boost of inspiration.

Dress for less

If you’re attending several weddings in a short period of time, the last thing you want to do is to be caught on the ‘Gram or Facebook wearing the same outfit again and again. But if buying several dresses or suits is just not an option, what can you do?

For starters, consider buying a staple like a black dress which you can accessorize with different cardigans, shawls, jewelry or shoes to give it a new look. An affordable place to shop is actually Amazon. Sure, you can’t try on outfits but in most cases, you can return clothing within 30 days.

To save even more money, see if you can get a little help from your friends. Your friends might have clothes in a similar size that you can borrow. I did this a few years ago with no problem. I didn’t have to spend any money and I borrowed a dress that was sitting in my friend’s closet.

Looking for something a little higher end? You can also check out Rent the Runway to get serious discounts on designer wear. This way you can rent a different dress for each wedding.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out your local thrift shop where you might find some hidden gems.

Just say no

With wedding season in full swing, you may feel pressured to say “yes” to every invitation. But if you’re struggling to conquer debt or save money, consider politely declining. This is especially true if attending the wedding may send you into debt. Yeah, it’s not fun or ideal to sit out, but sometimes saying “no” is the best thing you can do for your finances. Here are some tips from The Knot on how to send your regrets.

Bottom line

Attending multiple weddings can add up fast. But with a little planning and creativity, you can lower costs as a wedding guest. By doing so, you can celebrate the nuptials of your closest friends, while keeping your financial life in good standing.

 

How to Avoid Breaking the Bank as a Wedding Guest

Ah, wedding season. The time when your friends are pronouncing their love to the soft sounds of Michael Buble, while your wallet slowly weeps in the background. Here you are, hundreds of dollars deep on a present. Your suit set you back $2,000. And the hotel you’ve picked for a crash landing charged you an extra $100 for a roll-away. The dollars start to add up in your head and you quickly move to boycotting weddings forever.

With Millennials forking out $893 per wedding they attend (up 27% from the general population) on average, we don’t blame you. However, before giving up completely, we have a few tips that can help you cut costs and be better prepared to spend once the big day comes. Here are five ways you can save on attending your next wedding:

Location. Location. Location.

If the location fits, turn the wedding trip into one of your annual vacations. Doing so will help you look at the event and trip as part of your yearly travel budget, rather than an additional unforeseen expense.

Set up an automated savings account.

Start saving early. Seriously. There’s no sense in waiting until the last minute or charging everything to a credit card that you’ll spend months paying off. Once you decide to RSVP, set up an automatic savings system that pulls money from your spending account into a savings account. It’s a great way to subtly force yourself to put funds aside for the celebrations.

Throw down on thoughtful group gifts.

Traditional wedding etiquette says attendees should spend as much on a gift as the soon-to-be-married spent on each guest. Considering the average wedding costs $32,000 and wedding attendees range from 50-500, it might be a stretch to keep the old tradition alive.

Millennials are driven by authenticity. Use this to create a less expensive but thoughtful gift (Note: This does not mean ignore the registry—it’s there for a reason). Find some items on the registry that can be presented together. Get some friends to include other unique pieces, with a bar theme for example. Carefully curating a gift wins a lot of points and you can easily get away with cheaper items in the process.

Ditch the hotel.

Typical hotel rates can run your personal budget over the edge, even with the blocked room discount the bride and groom may provide. Instead of booking individual hotels, get a group of friends together and rent out a house via Airbnb or VRBO. If you’re alone, consider renting out a private room as opposed to the entire apartment or house. It’s much cheaper and you won’t be spending much time there anyway.

Men: invest in a lightweight, standard suit.

Services like Rent the Runway are perfect for women who want to boast a thousand dollar dress for a fraction of the cost. However, for men it’s advantageous to invest in a lightweight, versatile suit that you can continue to use. Stick to neutral colors like black, grey or navy. Don’t get something with too much flair as you can easily change up the look with a new tie or shirt. Look for deals year-round and don’t wait until wedding season to purchase one.

Learn to say “no”.

When all else fails, then you may be faced with sending your regrets. FOMO may kick in, as will guilt, but let’s face it – the stress is not worth displacing your financial stability. Weddings will continue and you’re better off taking some of that cash and putting it away for next year’s season of “I do.”

Have other ways you save for weddings and other big life events?