Wedding season is here! That might mean you’ve got more than a few weddings your budget didn’t account for. While celebrating the love between friends and family is certainly a happy occasion, the cost of attending weddings—and especially being a member of the wedding party—can add up quickly. According to USA Today, guests spend between $372 and $628, per person, per wedding. And, those in the bridal party spend upwards of $728 or more. So, here are a few tips on how to save money as a wedding guest.
Get creative with your outfit
If you can, wear clothes and accessories you already own; it’s okay to wear the same outfit to multiple weddings. You can change up the accessories to make your outfit feel new each time. If you do need to purchase new clothes, be sure to plan early. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales, shop resale stores, borrow from a friend or family member, or consider renting an outfit online on sites like Simple Tux or Rent the Runway. Even with all the photos, the married couple won’t remember what you wore, but just that you were there to celebrate with them. Just remember not to wear white!
Give meaningful gifts
The custom of “paying for your plate” is the most common way to determine the price of the monetary gift guests give at a wedding. Sometimes, this just isn’t in your budget, and that’s okay. If the couple has a wedding gift registry, start shopping early. You’ll have first pick of the items and are more likely to find something within your budget. Or, get creative and make or purchase something thoughtful for the couple. A personalized gift is a meaningful gesture and might be, even more appreciated than cash. You can also go in on a group gift with other guests. The couple will receive a nice gift, and you’ll be able to split the cost.
Tweak your travel
Whether you’re driving or flying to a wedding out of town, transportation costs can add up quickly. When booking a flight, plan ahead and do your research. Keep an eye out for cheap flights by signing up for email or text alerts and look into the cheapest days to purchase flights. You might also want to consider booking connecting flights if you have the time to spare; they might come with a lower price tag. And, check to see if you have flight miles or applicable points saved up.
If you’re driving, don’t forget about credit card or rewards points with a certain gas station. Look for deals on car rentals, use your credit card rewards points, or check into membership discounts like AAA or AARP. If you only need to make a trip to the wedding venue and back to your lodging, consider calling a taxi or using ride share services like Lyft and Uber to avoid paying for a rental car altogether. Or, if you’re extra adventurous, consider other forms of transportation like trains and buses for long travel.
Seek alternative accommodations
Find out if the married couple-to-be has blocked off rooms at a specific hotel. Hotels offer discounted rates for wedding guests that book through the block. Or, use hotel rewards programs or credit card points, and be sure to check into membership discounts like AAA and AARP, senior rates, and student rates. You can also share a hotel room with friends or family who are also attending the wedding and split the cost. Or, look into alternative lodging such as staying with friends or family in the area or booking short-term home rentals online with sites such as HomeAway or Airbnb.
Skip the salon
As for grooming, save money by doing it yourself. Style your hair, paint your nails, apply your make up, and primp at home. If you do need to head to the salon, look into Groupons or discounts for your first visit to a new location. You can still look your best on a budget!
Save on other wedding festivities
For pre-wedding festivities such as bachelor and bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and other similar events to celebrate, use some of the above tips to cut down on cost for these occasions, as well. And, if necessary, you can always respectfully decline to save up for attending the actual wedding.
The bottom line: Plan ahead and don’t forget to take advantage of the deals you can find. Every dollar counts! And, be sure to enjoy the celebration!