The summer wedding season is fast approaching. When you're invited to more than one wedding in the summer (not to mention a slew of graduation parties), your budget can take a beating. It's estimated that guests alone will spend $500 to attend one these days (and that figure doesn't even include plane tickets, according to "For Richer or Poorer," Mother Jones, (Jan./Feb. 2005). Bridesmaids can plan on spending up to $1,400 to be apart of a friend's big day, according to TheKnot.com . Getting together a game plan before the wedding season kicks off will ease the strain on your wallet and your stress levels.
If travel is required, think long and hard if you need to attend. Destination weddings have increased by 400 percent over the past 10 years, according to a 2006 study by The Conde Nast Bridal Group (and many couples are aware that not many of their local friends are going to be able to attend). Secondly, the sacrifice that you'll make in time and money may not be necessary. Find out if a local reception is being planned.
If travel is required, get smart about how you spend your travel dollars. Book flights early. If you know you'll be attending an out-of-state wedding, book your flights as soon as you receive the "save-the-date" cards. Use Internet search engines like kayak.com but don't rule out calling a traditional travel agent. Go with the best deal you can find. Keep in mind fares are often cheapest on Wednesdays, which is the day before new airfares are posted. If you don't see a friendly air fare right away, sign up for a special alert to be emailed to you when the fare for the specific route you're looking for makes its descent into friendlier territory.
Get practical when it comes to transportation and lodging. Hook up with someone else who's going to the wedding to split a rental car and hotel room, but not before asking your engaged friends if they can provide transportation and lodging first. Chances are, there will be many others flying from out of town, so an extra trip to an airport or a pullout sofa bed may work just fine. If you do end up booking a hotel room, see if your friends have arranged for a block of rooms at a reduced price.
Stick to a wedding gift budget. Say you've earmarked $100 to spend on the couple and you're invited to two showers and the wedding. You could spend $15 on the engagement party gift (a favorite photo of the couple you took placed in a cool frame) and $35 on the bridal shower (something off their registry), and you'll have $50 to include in the wedding day card that they'll take to their honeymoon. (Money is the most desired wedding gift, according to Hallmark.com.)
If you don't have money to spend on gifts, offer a special gift or talent to the bride and groom as a gift (if not for the wedding itself, then for something in the home, like reupholstering furniture or painting).
If you were part of the wedding party, find some way to reuse or recycle your $200-worn-only-once dress or tuxedo. If you can't modify it into something wearable, auction it individually or get with other members of the wedding party to auction or sell it as a "lot" to another wedding couple on sites like www.ebay.com. Give it to Goodwill or other charity like www.makingmemories.org as a tax write-off.
After the last packet of birdseed has been flung, remember the reason you've put up with all this wedding season nonsense. You care about your friends and sacrificed to be apart of their big day. Don't let that slip away as life goes on and schedules get busier. Make it a point to reconnect with your friends on a regular basis. Charles Caleb Colton, an English sportsman and writer at the turn of the 19th century, said, "True friendship is like sound health, the value of it is seldom known until it be lost."
Cara Davis is the author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot (RELEVANT Books) and blogs about savvy ways to spend and save at www.cheapwaysto.com.
Take the Next Step
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor: Click Here
Sign up for our free eNewsletter Dollar Stretcher for Parents.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.