How to Survive Wedding Season Without Racking Up Debt

Wedding Guest

It’s that time of year again. Wedding invites have begun to flood your mailbox and you may be stressing about the cost of attending all these social events.

What makes the cost of attending weddings challenging is that typically the wedding invites we receive are from our family and close friends. AKA it’s really hard to simply decline the invite.

According to The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, in 2017 the average cost of a wedding was $33,391, with couples spending an average of $268 on each guest that attends their special day.

But how much money are attendees dropping to join the lovebirds in their wedding celebration?

How to Survive Wedding Season Without Racking Up Debt

Weddings by the Numbers

On average, distant friends and family members not part of the wedding party will spend $371.60 to attend a wedding, according to a March 2018 survey of 2,228 U.S. adults.

Close friends and family members not part of the wedding party will drop about $627.72 while members of the wedding party will end up paying around $728.19, according to the survey.

To help you avoid some of the financial pressures associated with the $100 billion wedding industry, check out our list of wedding guest-saving tips below!

Wedding Guest Savings Tips

  • Plan Ahead

Did you know that 40 percent of couples get engaged in the three-month span between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day? According to The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, the average engagement length is 14 months.

Translation: Once you see a picture of the ring on Facebook, start saving.

Open up a separate savings account and try to deposit $30 a month into the account. At the end of 14 months, you should have saved about $400 to help cover the cost of attending your friend’s special day. If you think you’ll be asked to be part of the wedding party, consider setting aside around $50 each month to cover expenses.

It may seem presumptuous to start saving before you’re officially invited to the wedding or formally asked to be a bridesmaid, but really there’s no downside to saving early. If you do end up getting cut from the final guest list or bumped from the wedding party, at least you have some extra money saved up to help pay for the next wedding you’re invited to.

  • Destination Weddings and Events

Whether you’re invited to a destination wedding in the Caribbean, or you’ve moved out-of-state and were just invited to your best friend from high school’s wedding, nearly 40 percent of all wedding guests must travel to attend a wedding.

If you’re incurring travel expenses, consider the following money-saving ideas:
Of those traveling to a wedding, 44 percent travel to a wedding by air, according to The Knot. If this applies to you, consider cashing in your frequent flyer miles for a reduced fare. If you have some vacation time, consider extending your trip by a few extra days and leaving mid-week, when flights tend to be cheaper.

If you are driving to a wedding, consider splitting travel expenses with a friend or family member. This way you can split the cost of gas and a rental car if necessary.

When it comes to lodging, couples tend to reserve a block of rooms at a discounted rate. If the price is still too high, consider sharing a hotel room with a friend or two.

Another option is to check Airbnb for a room or ask a friend or family member who lives locally if you can crash at their place. If you don’t know anyone who lives locally, consider asking the bride or groom if they have any friends you could stay with for a night or two.

  • Wedding Attire

Just because you’re invited to seven weddings in the summer doesn’t mean you need to wear seven completely unique outfits. And with the average cost of wedding attire around $81, many of us don’t have the budget to buy something new for each event.

It’s perfectly acceptable to re-wear a dress for a wedding. To refresh your look consider trying out a different pair of shoes or a new accessory.

If you don’t have any appropriate attire to wear in your closet, consider investing in a classic, versatile, little black dress. If you aren’t ready to invest in one dress, consider borrowing a dress from a friend or family member who wears the same size as you. Another option is to borrow a dress from sites like Rent the Runway.

  • Wedding Gift

If you’re invited to multiple pre-wedding events, don’t feel pressured to buy a gift for every event. If you don’t have the budget to buy a gift for the shower, bachelorette party, and also the wedding, it’s perfectly acceptable to give just one special gift to the happy couple.

If you can’t seem to afford anything on the couple’s registry, consider going in on a big gift with a group of friends or family members. If you are unable to combine your purchasing power with others, remember cash is always king.

  • Know your Finances

You know your finances more than anyone else. Remember, weddings are planned, not with your finances in mind, but those of the bride and groom.

If it’s important you attend the wedding, consider saving your money by skipping pre-wedding festivities.

It may not be ideal to miss your best friend from high school’s wedding, but if you truly do not have the finances to attend the wedding, there is a way to decline the invitation and keep your relationship intact. Call the bride or groom directly to give your regrets and well wishes. If you live nearby, invite the bride and groom to your home for dinner. If you live far away, consider traveling to visit the newlyweds nine or 12 months after their wedding.

What money-saving tips have you used to make it through the wedding season without breaking the bank? Tell us in the comments!