There’s no doubt about it: weddings cost a lot. Considering that 63% of brides say they feel a lot of pressure to have the perfect wedding, it’s no surprise that the wedding industry was valued at $72 billion in 2016. And according to Wedding Wire, the average wedding in 2018 cost an impressive $38,700.
Between the venue, the flowers, the food, the entertainment, the photographer, the clothes, and all the prep work involved, many couples are spending beyond their means for their special day. In fact, 43% of couples worldwide go into debt to pay for their nuptials. And while you might be able to skip out on some things (like orthodonture treatments, which should begin around the age of seven anyway, or a dream venue), there are some expectations that couples may not be able to escape.
The same goes for wedding guests, who are often expected to shell out hundreds or even thousands to celebrate the union of their loved ones. A new study found that those who are in wedding parties pay $273 per person just on travel costs, while a separate analysis found that over $508 million was predicted to be spent on gifts for October weddings this year. All told, a 2014 survey found, the average guest spends roughly $600 per wedding. Since average U.S. rent prices rose by 3% year-over-year from 2018 to 2019 — and the cost of living keeps on growing along with average debts — t’s easy to understand why 30% of participants say they had to skip a friend’s event due to the costs involved.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to bow out of the festivities. Keep in mind, however, that those who are part of the wedding party typically end up paying substantially more in the process. If you simply can’t afford to shell out the money for clothing, shoes, hair and makeup (including products that might contain oils in concentrations ranging from 1-99%), travel, and lodging, you’re well within your rights to tell the couple that you’ll be unable to participate in that aspect of their wedding. Attending as a guest, rather than being part of the wedding itself, is often a lot more feasible.
However, you’ll still have to be smart about your spending if you RSVP in the affirmative. You should absolutely set a budget for this wedding and carefully plan out the costs you expect to incur. This can keep you from overspending and give you more time to set money aside. Be sure to research travel options early, as this can allow you to score a deal on transportation. You may even consider arriving or leaving earlier than expected, as this can end up saving you money in some cases. Otherwise, you might have to pick wallet-friendly transportation options over the cushier ones, as your bottom line should come first. Be sure to compare group hotel rates to alternative accommodations (like an Airbnb property in the area), too.
When it comes to your attire, don’t be afraid to get creative. If you have something suitable in your closet or can borrow an outfit from a friend, do so. If not, try looking in second-hand stores or using a clothing rental service to save money. As for the gift, use the couple’s registry as a jumping-off point. You don’t necessarily have to buy those exact gifts, particularly if you can find something comparable for a lot less money. You can also give a gift card, go in on a gift with a few other people, or give something handmade and meaningful. You could even donate your time or talent to the wedding itself if the couple is embracing any kind of DIY approach. Keep in mind that if you’re attending a destination wedding, it’s not out of the question to have your presence be the main gift.
A wedding should be something to celebrate. But when financial worries are at the forefront, it can be tough to let loose and enjoy the moment. Armed with these tips, you should be able to save some money when attending upcoming weddings without missing out on the fun.