After the outfit, the gift, the cover-your-plate ticket, the bridal shower, and whatever else the big day may require, you're easily $600-700 in the hole before for your friend's big day. Sure – you're excited to share in your friend's wedded bliss, but you certainly can't spend this kind of money too many times a year.
So how can you save money during wedding season whilst maintaining proper-pal etiquette? These money saving tips will help prevent you from breaking the bank, but still be an awesome guest.
1. First things first: You can say no
This is Gail Vaz Oxlade’s number one, so-simple-you-already-know-it rule. The financially savvy superstar believes, "money isn't rocket science – it's discipline." This means in order to save money, you sometimes have to deny yourself that second pair of Aldo sandals, those Ray Bans, that sweet new phone you don't really need yet, but it also means saying no to loved ones who want things that you can't afford. Even if they really, really want it, and you really love them.
Bottom line: if a trip to Cuba is going to leave you digging yourself out of debt for an extra year, don't accept the invitation. Think about your relationship to the couple. If you're not planning on keeping them in your life in years to come, you can politely decline your invitation to their wedding.
2. Buy your gifts strategically
Map out your finances pre-wedding so you know exactly what you're going to spend. TheKnot.com recommends alotting 20% of that budget on the engagement gift; 20% on the bridal shower; and 60% on the wedding gift.
"You don't want to give a really lofty engagement present and then realize, 'Now, I don't have enough money to spend on the wedding present,'" said editor Jamie Miles. "You really want to plan and allocate what you're giving ahead of time."
How much should your budget be? Miles suggests if you're buying for a co-worker or less close friend, spend $75 – 100. If youre buying for a close friend or relative, spend between $100 – 125.
3. Get creative with gift giving
When it comes to spending on gift, TheKnot.com Site Director Anja Winikka explains that you don’t need to “cover the cost not based on plate” – what you spend should be based on what you can afford. She’s also got some unconventional advice – wedding doesn’t necessarily equal gift. A wedding is about friendship, not money. No one expects a friend to go into debt over their wedding.
Instead, think outside the box when it comes to gifting. Take the couple out for a drink after the wedding is over, for example. Or, collaborate with other guests and go in on a group gift, such as a couple’s massage or a few nights at a B&B. You’ll each save money, and the couple still gets a heartfelt gift.
4. Plan ahead
Wedding invitations are usually sent 4 months or so in advance. As soon as you get yours, books your plane / train / bus trip ASAP and cash in on the early bird deals. Putting it off won’t make the expense any easier to deal with.
5. Sleep cheap
The bride and groom might be staying in the nearest boutique hotel right on the venue grounds, but that doesn't mean you have to. Search for an cheaper motel or bed and breakfast, where prices are much cheaper. Save more and split a room with another guest – you could end up saving a couple hundred bucks on a bed alone. At the end of the day, it won’t matter where you slept, just that you were there for the big day, the party, the pre-wedding jitters, etc.
6. Find a dress you’ll actually wear again
Does it really matter if a certain group of friends sees you wearing the same dress at two different weddings? Heck no! Re-wearing the same dress and dressing it up differently is smart. If you’ve got many weddings and rehearsal dinners to attend this year, buy something you really love and can wear a few different ways. Go vintage and find something cheap and elegant and classy, or rummage through friends’ closets.
Can't bear to be seen in the same frock twice? Check out RenttheRunway.com, where you can rent a designer dress for about $50. Shabby chic, indeed.
7. Save your spa dollars
Save yourself the expense of getting your nails, hair, and makeup done if it's not of utmost importance to you. If you have friends who can do this for you for cheap or in exchange for whatever services you might be able to offer, opt for that. Save the spa for a high-stress time when there’s nothing more you’d love than an oil-infused rubdown. Not when you’re rushing to squeeze in a trip to the mall / dry cleaner, etc.