Ah, the sweet smell of spring! The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and oh, what’s that? I have three weddings to attend this year? Cue the sweet sound of my savings account drying up faster than a California puddle.
After years of canceled nuptials and rescheduled wedding celebrations, it seems as though this is finally the year that weddings are back. As happy as I am to see so many of my friends find true love, attending multiple weddings this year, with inflation and the rising cost of everything, will require some serious planning and changes to my budget.
Between the plane tickets, the hotel reservations, the gifts, and the wedding-appropriate outfits, the cost of watching my friends say “I do” can really add up. According to a study done by The Knot, in 2020 the average cost to attend a wedding was $430. If you add in driving out of town or flying to the destination, averages ramp up to $600 and $1,440, respectively. If you factor in the current cost of fuel and other inflation increases, I would expect these averages to be much higher.
So how can we afford to attend all the weddings we’re invited to this year? Here are five helpful hacks for avoiding unnecessary expenses as a wedding guest.
Utilize Credit Card Rewards
Two of the weddings I’m attending this year are out of state and luckily both are within driving distance. Plane tickets are not cheap, so if you do end up needing to book a flight to celebrate your friend’s matrimony, credit card rewards are the way to go.
By paying for wedding expenses like gifts, outfits, and hotel costs on a credit card that has rewards for every dollar spent, you can cash in those points for airline miles and travel to your destination for free, or close to it. Wondering which credit cards give you the best travel rewards? Well, that’s something we’ve covered extensively here at Brad’s Deals:
- Best Credit Cards for Airline Miles
- Best Cash Back Credit Cards
- The Best Credit Card Signup Bonuses
- How I Took a $20,000 Luxury Vacation for (Nearly!) Free
Gift Within Your Budget
Yes, it’s still poor form not to give a gift at all, but don’t think you have to go all out on a new KitchenAid mixer just to be polite. Most couples aren’t going to be offended if you split the cost of their gift with a few other friends, go with something cheap off their registry, or make them something thoughtful and handmade. Some wedding registries even allow you to split the gift cost online between multiple people.
It’s also important to note that giving a gift up to six months after a wedding is totally appropriate, so if you can’t afford a present right away, don’t sweat it. Give them a nice card and make sure to send something to the happy couple as soon as you can.
Dress to Impress (For Less)
One of my favorite parts of going to a wedding (you know, apart from witnessing a celebration of love and drinking for free) is the pre-wedding shopping trip. I love dressing up and any excuse to buy a new outfit, but I know it’s not practical to buy a brand-new dress for all of the upcoming weddings I’m attending.
The best and most economical advice would probably be to wear the same dress to all of the events this summer, but let’s be honest, I’m not going to do that and you probably wouldn’t either. However, I definitely will consider borrowing things from my friends, pulling once-worn dresses out of the back of my closet, shopping at discount retailers like T.J.Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, and browsing the selection of gorgeous designer dresses for rent at Rent the Runway.
Split Hotel or Airbnb Costs
While you may be able to cover the bulk of your plane tickets with credit card rewards points, you may not be so lucky when it comes to hotel and resort fees. To offset the costs, consider staying with local friends and family or sharing a hotel room or Airbnb with multiple people.
Both of the weddings I am attending this year are back in my home state of Michigan. We have family and friends all over the state and are lucky enough to have a free place to stay (even with our kids!) for both events.
If you know anyone (even an old college roommate you haven’t spoken to in a few years or someone who doesn’t know the bride or groom) who lives in the area, why not ask if you can stay with them for a couple of days? The worst they can say is no, and best case scenario: you get to enjoy one friend’s wedding and catch up with another. Just make sure you return the favor the next time your gracious host is in your town.
Know When to Say No
It can be hard to opt-out of a friend’s big day, but if you’re in serious financial straits, or just don’t have the energy to haul yourself across the country (or the world) more than once this year, it’s perfectly OK to decline a wedding invitation. Just make sure you respond to the formal invitation, and remember that it’s polite to send a little token of your love–a handmade card, a gift certificate, or a bottle of wine–in your place.
It’s a little trickier if you’re being asked to be a member of the wedding party, but it’s always best to be open and honest about your situation with the bride and groom. If you’re being asked to be a bridesmaid or groomsman in a wedding you know you can’t afford, it’s a million times better to be straight with them than to accept the position and either drive yourself into debt or drop out at the last minute. There is no sense in going broke trying to pay for a wedding that’s not even yours!