Raise one hand if you’re in a wedding this year. Raise both hands if you’ve already started saving!
Those of you with two hands up… raise the roof and pat yourself on the back! You’re on the right track and you get to practice your sweet dance floor moves.
The rest of you… it’s time to use that free hand to create (or add to) a wedding savings fund.
Weddings continue to be one of the biggest expenses you can encounter in your yearly budget. And it’s not just a one time deal – the cycle continues. If you’re not throwing one, you’re likely in one. With the cost of being a bridesmaid pushing $1,000, a night of cake and champagne isn’t a negligible cost. So what’s a wedding goer to do? Make a plan and start saving early.
Here are a few steps to get you started:
Calculate the expected costs early on
Make a spreadsheet, a list, a cartoon – whatever helps you to accurately visualize just how much you should expect to spend on costs associated with being a bridesmaid or groomsman. Include each anticipated event, any travel costs, etc. Get into the nitty gritty details here as every bit counts help you to see the most accurate cost. From there, you can begin prioritizing the costs and highlighting areas where you can potentially cutdown these expenses.
Start a wedding savings plan
Most weddings give a fair bit of warning (starting with the announcement or the engagement party) which at the very least gives you the benefit of timing your savings. Even 20 bucks a month will help you to save up a reasonable sum before the big day, and the earlier you start the more wiggle room you’ll have. Consider doing this even before you get the invite to your bestie’s wedding (though don’t count your bridesmaid dresses before their sewn). If you know a wedding is imminent on the horizon start putting away a small sum. That way, you’ll have saved up a nice cushion so the whole expense won’t be quite so shocking to your bank account.
This can include (but isn’t limited to):
- Dress or suit
- Wedding shower
- Bridal shower
- Bachelor/ette party
- Wedding gifts
- Split costs of the bride/groom
All that added up equals: “yikes, how will I be able to afford rent?” We always knew that weddings were expensive, but when did being in a wedding become so expensive? To soften the edge to wedding costs, treat the event as you would any other big ticket item. If you were saving for a refrigerator or a car, you would put away for that sole goal. Treat a wedding as such and sock away in the months before.
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Communicate honestly with the bride or groom
It may be necessary to tell your friend or family member that you have some financial constraints. This doesn’t have to be an awkward, drawn out conversation although fair warning… it could be. However, this is no time to be shy or secretive about your financial concerns. The alternative – going into debt to participate in a wedding – is much more unpleasant than having a slightly uncomfortable conversation. In most instances, your friend will understand. As you have the conversation:
- Acknowledge that their time is a valuable asset and make sure to be honest about how your finances might impact your role as bridesmaid or groomsman.
- Tell them what information you would want to be aware of if the positions were reversed.
Bite the bullet (in some instances)
Have fun when and where you can! If you’re going to spend money, at the very least make sure that it’s money you don’t agonize over. If you’re fretting over each and every expense you won’t enjoy what you actually pay for. If you’ve committed to making a purchase, then commit to having fun. Dance the night away. Eat copious amounts of cake. Twirl that bridesmaid dress like there’s no tomorrow.
Don’t go broke for a wedding
There’s no reason you should feel obligated to pay for an event that you truly can’t afford. Barring the social pressure, the reality of finance is pretty cut and dry. You can either make it work, or you can’t. You wouldn’t buy a plane ticket for a weekend getaway if you were pinching pennies. Weddings have always been a celebration but the tendency to snowball has made them an event akin to a festival of spending. Balance your own financial needs with wedding obligations and set realistic expectations that won’t leave you with empty pockets. Soon enough you’ll be jamming on the dance floor to “Video Killed the Radio Star” – with some pennies yet to your name!
Image Credit: Kendra Hartmann