How to Survive Wedding Season (Without Breaking the Bank)

Ed note: In many parts of the country, spring and early summer are peak wedding season. While the cost to attend a wedding is a fraction of throwing one, it can still start to add up. Here’s how to be a fantastic guest, on a budget. Leer en español.

WeddingGuest-bannerWeddings are great fun, but they can also cost you tons of money to attend. Gifts, attire, travel – there are many costs associated with attending a wedding. Luckily, there are ways to make the most of a wedding without breaking the bank.

Gifts

Depending on how close you are to the bride and groom, one wedding could mean multiple gifts. What you spend is a personal choice, but the Knot suggests:

  • Spending $75-100 on the wedding gift of a co-worker or distant friend.
  • Spending $100-125 on a close friend or relative.

As far as overall disbursement of funds, the Knot recommends:

  • 20% on the engagement gift
  • 20% on the bridal shower
  • 60% on the wedding gift.

So, for example, if the wedding gift costs you about $100, you should spend somewhere around $30 on engagement and shower gifts.

WeddingGuest-giftsHow to save on gifts:

  1. Get to the Registry First – Don’t wait until the last minute, or you could be left with the most expensive items.
  2. Buy Elsewhere – You may be able to find registry items online for less. Just be sure to go back to the registry to mark the item as “fulfilled” and provide the appropriate gift receipt.
  3. Shop Sales and Use Coupons – Stores offer sales and coupons all the time, so pay attention!
  4. Group Gifts – Have a few friends that are all budget-conscious? Pool your money to go in on an awesome group gift.

Travel

If the wedding is out of town, it’s going to cost you to get there, with flights, car rentals, hotels and food.

How to save on wedding travel:

  1. Plan Ahead and Book Early – Flights get ultra-expensive when you’re within two weeks, so budget in advance.
  2. Shop Around – Compare multiple travel sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal. I love Kayak.com.
  3. Only Stay as Long as You Need to – Save on hotel nights!
  4. Use Points and Miles – If you travel regularly, you may have miles and points that you can use. If you don’t, be sure to sign up for relevant rewards programs so you can reap the benefits later. I’m a fan of Hotels.com’s Welcome Rewards.
  5. Share – Consider sharing rooms and rides with friends.

Fashion and Beauty

From the dress, to the shoes, to the hair, makeup and nails, there is a lot that goes into primping for a wedding.

How to save on attire and more:

  1. Shop Smart – Stores like T.J.Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross are great places to get wedding-worthy attire for less.
  2. Buy One Dress – Get yourself one versatile dress that you can accessorize in a number of ways to create different looks.
  3. Do It Yourself – You don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars for professional hair, makeup and nails.
  4. Get It for Free – At most makeup counters, if you spend a certain amount, you get a free makeup application. If you need new foundation anyway, you could get your makeup done for free!

By budgeting in advance for wedding-related expenses and being smart when it comes to shopping for them, you’re ready to tackle wedding season head-on.

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