5 Wedding Guest Hacks So You Don't Go Broke

Single Friends

Here Comes The Bride. AND Here Comes The Bills! How to enjoy summer weddings without going broke.

Wedding season is here. Your mailbox is bulging with invitations; your calendar is already littered with save-the-dates, and the biggest workout in your future is for your credit card.

Weddings are expensive and not just for the bride and groom. But weddings are also such special events – every one is unique.

If you are invited to a wedding this summer you face the challenge of finding ways to cover all of the extra expenses of attending the event or the difficult decision of declining the invite.

In 2015, American Express Spending & Saving Tracker estimated the cost of attending a wedding at $673.  Up 14% from the year before, so you can assume 2016’s cost to attend a wedding will exceed $700.

If you are in the wedding party you will go through even more cash. And if you have multiple ceremonies to attend, the math gets scary!

Short of boycotting the whole notion of weddings and begging your friends to elope, you need a few ways to reduce some of the expenses. So here are five hacks so you can celebrate their big day, get your shot at catching the bouquet, and not go broke:

1. Find yourself something borrowed. Something blue.

Before you drop a couple hundred bucks on a new dress (and potentially even more on shoes), consider borrowing a dress or shoes from a friend.

You have a friend who was in this same situation last summer, guaranteed - borrow her dress. Message your friends who might have something that fits and ask to wear their dress for the wedding. Offer them one of yours for a party or wedding they plan to attend. You both win.

2. Be clever when buying their gift.

Breathe a sigh of relief if you’re invited to a “your presence is our present” wedding and don’t sweat it. But if you are attending a wedding with multiple links to places to buy them items for their new home, get clever.

Do you have store credit at any of the stores they are registered at? Do you have store credit or gift cards at a store where you could purchase a similar item? (A 9”x13” glass dish is a 9”x13” glass dish whether it comes from Target or Macy’s.)

Could you and a friend go in on a larger item where your half is less than what you’d spend buying a gift solo?

Don’t see anyway around buying their gift full price – can you purchase it through a charitable site like Amazon Smile where a portion of your purchase price goes to a charity of your choice? The happy couple gets the perfect sheet set and you help dig wells in Africa – that’s not all bad.

A wedding gift is pricey, but potentially something that will remind them of you for years to come. We love using our Mickey Waffle Iron and every time we do, we think of Tracie.

3. Pinch pennies to get there.

The American Express survey noted that the largest part of your wedding expense will be airfare, with hotel expense closely behind.

Do you have any frequent flier miles? Do you have points from a credit card? Is there a less expensive airport to fly in and out of? Is it cheaper to add together two one-way fares versus a round-trip? How much would it cost to drive there?

We were surprised to discover when flying our friends’ San Francisco wedding we could save several hundred dollars by flying to in and out of Oakland International Airport instead of San Francisco International Airport. Our drive to the hotel was 50 minutes instead of 40 minutes – totally worth it.

Can you turn your travel into a “girls trip” and make plans with some other friends attending the wedding? Then your airfare essentially tackles two trips instead of one. Plus you can split the hotel expense.

4. Don’t lose cash en route.

Another wedding expense often forgotten is time away from work required to attend the events.

If you have to miss work could you arrange to be paid for work you do remotely for those few days? Sitting in the airport two hours prior to your flight could be time you login and earn some money. If you have work that can be completed during flight can you log those hours with your boss and not miss out on getting paid? Is there time between events you could work on something? Is there an opportunity for any overtime before or after your trip?

Anticipate that potential loss of income and see what you can do to alleviate that.

5. Consider – carefully – declining the invite.

A final option to consider is declining the invitation to attend. You can be happy for the couple and love and support them without attending the day they get hitched.

Just remember they want you there or they wouldn’t have added you to the guest list they pared down, so proceed with sensitivity. They can’t possibly imagine being anywhere else on that day so you may need to anticipate some hurt feelings. Consider your relationship, and the future of your relationship, before you decline the invitation. Brides.com offers some good advice and things to consider before you say “no”. 

If you do decline the invitation, do so promptly. Don’t wait to deliver the “bad news” or you are creating more stress on the couple’s end. Send a handwritten note along with the reply card very briefly explaining your inability to attend, along with a wish for a wonderful future.

It is hard to comprehend right now, but there will be a season of your life where you go years without a wedding invitation. You hit a phase where ages, life stages, etc. mean zero wedding invites, so take a deep breath now and know you won’t be bombarded with wedding invitations like this forever.

Enjoy your friends. Celebrate together. Mark these life-changing events in the presence of family and friends. And applaud yourself for doing all those things and not going broke in the process.

Eat. Drink. And be married!

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial planners, authors, and speakers who help couples tackle money issues in their relationship. Grab a copy of "The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language," and be sure and take the FREE online Money Personality Assessment

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.