By Jennifer Taylor, GoBankingRate featuring Julia K. Pham, CFP®, AIF®, CDFA®, Wealth Advisor
Weddings aren’t cheap — for anyone. Whether you’re in the wedding party or simply invited to attend the nuptials or any pre-wedding events, your presence will cost you.
Specifically, the average cost of being a wedding guest is $460, according to The Knot. Plus, you can plan to spend another $858 for the bachelorette party and $1,456 for the bachelor party, according to Savings.com.
Inflation is slowly on the decline — the all-items index increased 6.5% for the 12-month period ending in December 2022. However, it’s still notably high, so here are five tips to help you celebrate your loved ones’ nuptials on a budget.
Shop Around for Gifts
“From the bridal shower to the wedding, you may have to fork over a nice amount of money on a gift so it’s important to find ways to save,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer a money-saving expert. “When it comes to the actual present, review the registry but check for savings elsewhere.”
She said she has found amazing deals on common wedding registry items — i.e., KitchenAid Stand Mixers, knife sets and blenders — at warehouse stores like Costco. To add to your savings, she recommended using a deal aggregator site like Coupon Cabin that offers both promo codes and cash back on your purchase.
Compare Hotel Prices
In 2022, the average daily rate of a hotel room was the highest year on record, coming in at $148.83 per night, according to hospitality data firm STR. Despite that, if you’re going to an out-of-town wedding, you’ll likely need to work a hotel room into your budget.
When a couple reserves a block of rooms for their wedding guests at a local hotel, the rate is often a better deal than the hotel’s standard rate, Woroch said. However, she noted that you can sometimes find an even better price by shopping around online.
“Otherwise, consider getting a few other wedding guests together and splitting the cost of renting a home or condo near the festivities, which could be cheaper and give you access to a kitchen to prep and save on meals,” she said. “This is especially more helpful for destination weddings in which you may need to stay a few days.”
Just because you’re given a plus-one to the wedding doesn’t mean you have to use it.
“For those who aren’t in a serious relationship, going dateless can save you big, since you can share a room with another single friend,” Woroch said.
She noted this will allow you to save in several other areas too, including food and drink beyond the wedding. For instance, you’ll no longer have to pick up the tab for your date and you can spend less on a gift, since it would only be from you.
You’re honored to have been asked to stand up for a friend or family member at their wedding, but you don’t have a fortune to spend on it.
“It’s important to be clear on what you can and can’t afford,” said Julia Pham, CFP, AIF, CDFA, a wealth advisor at Halbert Hargrove.
Since being in a wedding comes with a lot of expenses, she said you need to be upfront with your loved one about certain things or events you can’t afford.
“Many bridesmaids report they felt pressured to spend money on bridal party-related expenses, and many even say the pressure strained their relationship with the bride,” she said.
It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but she said you need to be honest with them. For example, if you can’t make it to the bachelorette party for financial reasons, she said to tell them that.
“Be straightforward and tell her you would love to go, but doing so would put you in a bad financial position,” she said. “A good friend may be disappointed, but she will get it.”
Rent Your Dress or Buy Secondhand
Bridesmaid dresses aren’t cheap. In fact, the average cost of a bridesmaid dress is $130, according to The Knot.
“Buying a dress that you’re likely going to wear once can be painful and expensive,” Pham said.
Some brides require their bridesmaids to wear a very specific dress. However, she said it’s become a very popular trend for brides to allow their bridesmaids to choose their own dress, while sticking to a certain color scheme.
“If you’re lucky enough to have this option, consider borrowing one from Rent the Runway, or buying a preowned one on Poshmark from another bridesmaid who also likely only wore it once,” she said.
On the other hand, if the bride wants you to wear a specific dress, she recommended searching online for coupon codes. She said you can also use the ShopStyle app to set up an alert, so you’ll be notified if the the dress goes on sale.
Being in a friend or family member’s wedding should be fun. Hopefully, the advice above will help you create a budget that allows you to enjoy the festivities, instead of stressing about money.
Shopping around for the best prices on everything from hotel rooms to wedding attire might require a bit of time investment. However, it will all be worth it when you’re truly able to afford to pay your tab for every part of the festivities.
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