How to Attend a Wedding on a Budget

Love, Self

Creative ways you can save money and be a great guest!

By Mary Schwager, Consumer Watchdog for GALTime

First there's the wedding showers, then the Thursday pre-party, Friday rehearsal dinner and the main event. If you're "in" the production, there's the cost of your bridesmaid dress, your hair and make up. Ca-ching! Add in: Hotels, food, travel expenses. We surveyed the wedding pros and came up with these tips on how to save when it's NOT your big day !


Celebrity fashion stylist and commentator Colin McDonald suggests:

• If you're looking to get that designer dress but can't afford the price tag, I suggest such online websites as Gilt.com, Net-a-porter.com and Bluefly.com. They offer their customers designer names at a fraction of the cost. A great way to get that runway look without having to break the bank!

• Want to get several different looks and save money? Why not choose a convertible style dress! A great way to change up your look without having to buy a lot of dresses. One dress - 10 different different styles! Just throw on some different shoes and accessories and noone will ever know you're wearing the same dress.

• Still want that designer look but don't want to buy? Why not rent! Websites like Weartodaygonetomorrow.com offer their customers designer name dresses for weekly rentals as low as $50. Rent two or three and you're all set!

• Designers and luxury brands are always having sample sales at the end of each season and are another great way to get the designer look and save money.

• Shopping off-season and past collections are great ways to get your dress without having to count your pennies.

Related: Celeb Wardrobe on a "Regular" Gal's Budget


CEO and founder of www.thegrocerygame.com Teri Gault has some smart saving tips:


• Gift Baskets: A great and popular alternative is a gift basket that you can make for about 80% of the regular price! And in this economy, this type of gift full of expensive household products will be a big hit at the shower! First, check thrift shops for a good size basket, that you can buy for about one tenth the price of a new one. Fill the basket with deals from the supermarket and drugstores. You'll get cleaning products, scented candles, furniture polish, laundry soap, and more for 70-80% off the regular price. In the weeks before the shower, keep an eye out for sales. A good sale is about 50% off the regular price. Add a coupon to a sale to save even more or even get it for free! Stack the deals even further. Look for "store coupons" in the circular to use in conjunction with the sale and manufacturer coupon. And look for a fourth deal to stack manufacturer rewards at the register. This is when a manufacturer will give you money back at the register for buying a specified number or dollar amount of their products. This total is usually based on the "pre-coupon" amount. So you save even more! I can make a basket of $100 worth of products for under $20. Start early. The longer you have to gather your contents, the more deals you can find each week to save!

• Consignment stores: Want to give a beautiful gift for less? Consignment stores often have beautiful high couture crystal, silver and other timeless treasures for a fraction of the going rate. I've found Lenox, Swarovski and more, sometimes even with tags or in the box. This is re-gifting at its finest. Figure lots of people get gifts they never used, so they sell them at a discount. New, at a "used" price!

And from "Always Order Dessert", Eva Windsor says:

• Save money on costly registry presents by offering the bride or groom your services as a gift. If you're a talented baker, offer to bake a cake or other sweets for the shower, rehearsal dinner, or wedding dessert table. A photographer can offer to take engagement photographs. An artist or graphic designer can offer to create custom signs, programs, or invitations. Whether you like to sew or dabble in carpentry, figure out what your talents or skills are, and see if you can help in any way. The bride and groom are probably looking for ways to save money too, so they'll likely be really excited you offered.


• Priceline.Com: I love to bid for hotels on Priceline. I'm able to stay in 4 star hotels for less than the cost of a 2 star in most cities I visit. My method is to choose 4 star, and see what 4 stars are going for in the area I will bid on. Then, I typically bid about half the cost. The only 2 possible pitfalls: If you are traveling with two people and need two beds. You can only " request" two beds when bidding. And some older classy boutique type hotels only have two beds as an upgrade. And it can be difficult to get an upgrade if you've bid on Priceline. You cannot cancel and get your money back. If your travel plans change, your hotel booking cannot change. Occasionally, I have paid for a room in a city I never got to, just because my travel plans unexpectedly changed. But in the long run, the money I have saved on bidding has really paid off.

• Rental Cars: Free upgrades for rental cars: When checking in for rental cars, sometimes certain categories are in bigger demand than others. That's why sometimes I have gotten a luxury car for an intermediate price. If I'm not driving a lot of miles and don't have a lot of fuel to burn, a free upgrade to a luxury car can be a nice perk. It never hurts to ask.

• Flights: Traveling on off-peak days and times of the weeks can give great savings on flight costs. Typically, travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday are cheapest. So in the end, you may find that making a mini-vacation out of the wedding trip can actually save money. Also staying away from peak travel times like the flights at the beginning or end of the work day. For example, a 6 pm flight out of new York will typically cost more than a 1 pm departure. Opting to fly into alternate airports can make for huge savings. Many travel sites like Orbitz have a box to check other airports in the area. I've saved hundreds of dollars by flying into a different airport across town, or in a nearby city.

Related: Be an Eco-Smart Wedding Guest


Former Editorial Director of OneWed.com, Ask the Wedding Maven and Editorial Director and Wedding Expert for GigMasters.com, Marta Segal Block says just be honest:

• The biggest tip for guests saving money is to remember that, as you say, it is not THEIR special day! As a guest, you're not the center of attention. You might not want to wear the same dress to two weddings with the same guest list, but you don't really need a new dress for every event. You also don't need to get your hair and makeup done as a guest. Noone will really be looking that closely at you.

• As to pre-parties, be honest with yourself about what events you want to and can afford to attend. Just because the bride is having a weekend bachelorette party, it doesn't mean you have to attend it.

• In terms of gifts, there's a common misconception that your gift is supposed to equal the price of your dinner. This just isn't true. A wedding gift is a token of affection and good wishes, not an admittance ticket. Spend what you can afford. If the couple is registered for donations to a charity, remember that the amount of those gifts is not revealed to the bride and groom, so it may be a good choice for someone on a budget. If you feel like you really don't have a lot of money to spend, giving a gift, as opposed to cash, is a better way to go. Giving a $30 check may make you feel cheap, but giving a bowl off of the couple's registry won't.

More from GalTime:

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