May 7, 2014

How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

Read more about Weddings

As the wedding season approaches, the invitations start pouring in and the money starts pouring out. A single wedding can be a strain on the budget, but multiple weddings require some strategic planning.

These tips will help you navigate the wedding season without taking out a second mortgage.

Accept invitations judiciously.

It’s an honor to be invited to participate in a friend’s special day, but pause to estimate costs before filling out that RSVP. Take into account the cost of travel, housing, wardrobe, a gift(s) and transportation before you make your decision, especially if you have more than one invitation to consider. Need to take a pass on some of your invitations? The Wedding Channel offers good guidelines for declining gracefully.

Plan ahead.

Even though a friend’s wedding might seem way over the horizon, don’t procrastinate, especially on making a hotel reservation. If you want to stay at the same hotel as the wedding party, you’ll need to get a room before they’re all taken and before the hotel releases the group room rate. Most hotel reservations can be canceled, so book immediately, even if you plan to pursue more economical options in the meantime.

Tip: Cut cost on travel with a travel credit card -- some offer introductory deals worth hundreds off your next trip.

Buy a gift you can afford.

Many rules about how much to spend on a gift are outdated, so use two factors to gauge your spending: First, how close are you to the bride and groom? The closer your relationship, the more you should spend. Second, and more importantly, what’s within your budget? Even the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute agree that how much you spend will be a personal decision based on what you think is appropriate. Another way to frame it is to ask yourself how much you’d hope, want or expect this friend to spend on a gift for you if your roles were reversed.

Tip: Act fast when shopping for gifts. The sooner you check out the registry, the more selection you will have. Otherwise, you'll be left with that $499 blender.

Always the bridesmaid.

It is an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding party - and oh-so-difficult to say no. According to the experts at the Emily Post Institute, there are only three good reasons to back out of being in someone’s bridal party: health, unforeseen family crises and, yes, money. Your closeness to the bride and groom will be a consideration, but the best policy is to let them know as soon as possible that money may prevent you from partaking in all of their upcoming festivities. It’s possible that the bride, groom or one of their families may be in a position to help you with some of the expenses so you can still participate. And even if not, informing them early will give them the chance to find another bridesmaid or groomsman to replace you in the head count.

Build a wedding wardrobe.

If you know you have several weddings on the horizon, plan ahead by shopping at end-of-season sales. Choose outfits that are subtle and can be accessorized with jackets, shrugs, scarves or jewelry for multiple looks, allowing you to dress up or down depending on the event. That glitzy orange gown might be tempting, but, thanks to Instagram and Facebook, you can probably only get away with wearing it to one wedding this season. Keep that in mind as you shop.

Tip: It's OK to borrow. There's nothing wrong with borrowing an outfit from your friend's closet.

Room Sharing.

If you are attending a wedding alone, ask the bride or groom whether any of your friends are attending so you can invite someone to share a hotel room. You’ll be spending so little time in the room, you’ll hardly notice, and, as a bonus, you might reunite with an old high school or college friend. Just be sure to agree on shower and mirror time once you arrive, so nobody gets left out in the cold!

Tip: Use a hotel credit card, some offer lucrative promotions for new customers such as a free stay after hitting their spending thresholds.

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