We’ve all been there: It’s winter, and you get an elated phone call from your best gal pal from college. Within seconds of hearing her voice, you’re suffocated by both excitement and dread. She’s getting married this summer (yay!) and you’re invited (yay!) but oh wait, do you remember how much it costs just to attend a wedding (ugh!)? On average, attending a wedding will set you back $750 – $1000 or more, depending on the distance travelled and other variables like the gift you give, etc. This means that during wedding seasons, it’s easy to drop several thousand dollars on other peoples’ nuptials alone.
Since turning down invitations for close friends’ and family members’ weddings just isn’t an option for most, here’s a list of tips and tricks for making it through wedding season on a shoestring budget.
1. Start a Cocktail Dress Share
Just like wedding gowns and bridesmaid’s dresses, cocktail dresses can be expensive and aren’t easily re-wearable (professional photographers on-site make it difficult to repeat wardrobe choices weekend after weekend). But since you probably have friends in the same boat, why not start a dress share program? Buy a dress, wear it, have it dry cleaned, and send a photo to all your friends of a similar dress size asking if anyone would like to borrow it. They’ll accept and inevitably return the favor and voila, you’ll be rocking a different party dress at every wedding.
Or better yet: Go dress shopping at the beginning of summer with five girl friends. Everyone picks a dress she likes and that the others (dress size permitting) can at least tolerate, and each person pays for her own. Five dresses for the price of one: A dress share is born!
2. Get Creative with Gifts
Just because the bride and groom provide a registry at their local Outrageously OverPriced Home Store doesn’t mean that you have to get their entire gift from there. Instead, try adding a personal touch to a small item that they registered for. For example, instead of buying them the entire 8-piece red wine glass collection from their registry, opt for the less pricey cutting board, and package it with a few personally selected dried fruits and cheeses and an inexpensive (but delicious) bottle of wine from your grocery store. The presentation will be impeccable, and your gift will be even more memorable.
Try adding a personal touch to a small item that they registered for – presentation will make it memorable.
If you feel that you really must stick strictly to the registry, sign up for the store’s email list ahead of time. You’ll be notified of any sales or coupons, both of which apply to registered items.
3. Share a Room with a Friend
While it’s nice to treat an out-of-town wedding like a weekend getaway with a significant other, the nights in private hotel rooms can really add up financially. Instead, ask another couple that you know is going to the wedding if they’d like to book a hotel suite with you, and split the entire cost in half. You’ll usually save money doing it this way, and you’ll have another couple to drive to and from the weekend’s events with.
4. Make the Most of Your Travel
If you have to fork over the cash for a flight, try to book it through a carrier that you have a membership or club card with. You’ll earn points for every mile traveled which you can use towards the next wedding you’ll have to plan for.
Additionally, instead of looking at your vacation schedule at work and thinking that it’s an “either-or” situation when it comes to your summer vaykay or that weeklong wedding, try to get the best of both worlds. Tack on an additional day or two if the wedding destination is somewhere you wouldn’t mind staying, and relax at the pool or at nice dinners once all the festivities are over. As a bonus, often a hotel will carry over the room rate for an extra night or two if the bride and groom had reserved a block of rooms for their party.