How To Enjoy A Busy Wedding Season Without Going Broke

Wedding. Season.

That most blessed and cursed time of year.

I thought I’d gotten old enough that we were past the bulk of them. I remember years in my twenties where I attended/was invited to/was directly involved in no less than nine weddings in the span of twelve months. Well, another wave hit in our mid-thirties and we’re currently sporting four save the dates on our fridge.

As much as I love celebrating my friends in love, all those wedding invites can put a strain on your budget (not to mention your sparse remaining post-baby vacation days NOT used for a sick child). According to research by Express Spending & Saving Tracker, the average wedding guest is out $673 for each wedding they attend.

This I 100% believe.

So here are some ideas to keep in mind and keep from breaking the bank:

1.) Save on airfare

Clear your browser cache before searching for a flight. Get the lowest prices by booking your ticket for mid-week and/or taking a red-eye flight. Use apps like Kayak and Hopper to help you find the best-priced tickets. If your destination is within driving distance, you might choose to hop on a train, board a bus or rent a car with some friends and turn the drive into a fun road trip.

2.) Think outside the registry

Jump off the registry bandwagon and get creative instead! You can gift the couple with a more personalized gift, like a themed breakfast basket for the morning after the wedding or tickets and reservations for a dream date night. No one has to know how much (or how little) you spent. Plus, your gift is sure to be memorable and treasured by the couple.

3.) Don’t buy a gown

Instead of dropping a ton of money on a gown you might wear once, rent one for a fraction of the price from rental services like Rent the Runway. You can also borrow from a friend or purchase your dress gently used on sites like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. (Note: I’ve borrowed from friends many times…)

4.) Invest in a good suit

If you’re looking at several weddings over the next few months, it might be worthwhile to invest in a top-quality suit or tux you can wear again and again. Once you’ve got your suit, you can change up the outfit for different weddings by swapping the shirt and tie.

5.) Use AirBNB

Instead of spending hundreds on a hotel stay for every destination wedding you attend, check out AirBNB for cheaper lodgings. Save even more by booking a full apartment or an entire house with a couple of friends and splitting the cost.

6.) Prioritize the special events

It’s never just a wedding. It’s usually at least one shower (multiple if you’re a bridesmaid), a bachelorette party, sometimes a bridal tea, before you even get to the wedding weekend itself. Some events involve travel expenses, most involve gifts, and all involve wardrobe changes.

If you know there’s going to be a lot coming up, set expectations with your friend early on. Discuss with your friend one-on-one about which events she feels are the most important for you to be there. I remember my best friend couldn’t come to every bridal shower I had, but she was there for a cake tasting which was even more special for us lifelong BFFs to do together. (And our shared love of desserts.)

7.) Don’t be afraid to say no

This is my biggest piece of advice. If you’re asked to be a bridesmaid or an usher and you know you can’t afford the associated costs, don’t be afraid to explain your position to your soon-to-be-married friends. They’ll likely understand and either accept your declination or adjust their plans so you can afford to be part of the wedding party.

Or, if you’re staring down the throat of six wedding invitations, a tight budget, and 2 vacation days left in the year (like me), it’s okay to say no. Pick four out of the six. Pick two. Pick just the ones closest to home. It’s okay to not go to every single wedding. Just be sure to call the couple ON THE PHONE or IN PERSON (this is not a conversation for text!) to tell them how happy you are for them, how much you care for them and their friendship, and how sorry you are that you can’t make it. Be real, explain your constraints if you feel comfortable elaborating.

Then, send a really nice gift with a handwritten note. Because spending more than you normally spend on a gift -even double – is still WAY WAY cheaper than clothing, travel, etc. I usually leave my save-the-dates on the fridge until I send the present, so I don’t forget/know who I still have left to shop for, and can space the purchases out over several budget months.

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