Wedding season is upon us, and for many that means witnessing multiple nuptials in a short time frame. The cost of the wedding might be astronomical, but the cost to be a wedding guest can be just as staggering.
With three weddings down and at least four more to go before the end of summer, I’ve been in search of ways to save on everything from my outfit to accommodations, to the gift for the happy couple. It’s not always easy, but putting in a little extra effort can mean the difference between being able to witness the event and having to politely decline.
Here are a few ways you can save on the big day of those you love the most.
Think outside the box when it comes to dressing up
The first wedding I attended this year had a stipulation when it came to the clothing of the guests: we had to be in formal attire and no short cocktail dresses were allowed. At 5’1”, all I own are short cocktail dresses.
Long formal dresses are not only costly, but I rarely have the opportunity to wear them. After looking for some length of time at the prom-type dresses the stores were featuring, I opted instead for a long maxi dress. The dress itself wasn’t fancy, but it could easily be dressed up with the right accessories – many of which I borrowed from friends.
Another option is to rent a dress from a site like RentTheRunway. Many of the dresses available retail for upwards of $300, but rent for as little as $60. You may run into sizing issues, so make sure to read reviews before deciding on a dress and size to fit you.
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If more of your weddings are casual, try starting with a neutral bottom (like a black skirt) and mixing and matching tops and accessories according to the feel and location of the ceremony.
Get creative with your gift
I’m the queen of last-minute wedding gift shopping. Usually, this means all that’s left on the registry are the large items far outside my price range, or the random spatula or dish towel — something not substantial enough to make up the entire gift.
Instead of busting your budget with registry items, think about what else you could offer that the couple would value. Could you offer something that would be of some use for the wedding itself – hairstyling, photography, etc.?
A friend recently told me she helped newlyweds get financially organized after their big day, creating a budget and spending plan that would set them on the path to financial stability. Can you offer something similar?
Another option is to share the cost of a gift with another couple. Not only will the bride and groom get what they’re asking for, but cost sharing will soften the blow for your own wallet.
Don’t go the traditional travel route
If the wedding in question is anywhere other than your own backyard, travel is likely the most expensive part of being a guest. Between plan tickets and hotel rooms, you likely obliterated any vacation budget you might have set up at the beginning of the year.
Instead of going the traditional route, consider your options. According to reports, gas prices this summer will be lower than the previous six summers, so hitting the road might be a better option than hopping on a plane. If it’s doable, make a road trip of it.
When it comes to accommodations, hotels are often far more costly than other options. Do you know other people traveling to the wedding? Consider renting a home or apartment and splitting the cost with others through sites like HomeAway or AirBnB. You’ll be paying far less per night for these accommodations, and you’ll have a kitchen to utilize, saving money come mealtime as well.
It’s not all about the money
Wedding spending can quickly get out of control and overwhelming when it really doesn’t need to. The reason you received an invite is because your presence means something to the couple – even more than the present you might bring with you.
Putting a little bit of thought into the logistics means you’ll be able to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime event without dealing with a massive bill later. Now that’s a win-win for everybody.