Oh, weddings! You may have been looking forward to this particular season of life for years. Ever since you first put a pillowcase on the back of your head as a veil, or your aunt or old babysitter asked you to be a flower girl, or when you watched Jennifer Lopez in “The Wedding Planner” on Friday night sleepovers with your friends, or when you and your bestie pinkie swore you would be each other’s bridesmaids.
It’s that time where shopping on registries is a bi-monthly occurrence and your refrigerator is littered with romantic Save the Date pictures of your friends and their other halves. Truthfully though, it can be a lot and it’s not easy to escape either, especially with social media around!
You know what else it is? EXPENSIVE! There is no getting around it, weddings are not an industry worth billions for nothing. They are pricey as a guest, as a wedding party member, and especially, as the star of the show. It can be hard too because wedding fever usually occurs in the years where you are just starting to pick up your career—or even more normally, just haven’t quite made it to that peak you’ve been hoping for—so you usually aren’t rolling in the dough as much as you would like to be for such events (plus, they always seem to happen right at once!). It is pricey and sometimes they make you feel like saving money is hopeless. It can also be frustrating when your vacations are not your choice, but the choice of your betrothed friends with all their bachelorette parties.
Our contributor, Jenna Wohlwend, is here with a few tricks of the trade for playing it smart (yet, also still thoughtful), but before I dive into that, it must be said, there is no real way around it, you can definitely try to save, but spending a lot is inevitable. It simply comes with the territory. It’s usually all worth it though. If you value and appreciate the company you keep, and spent your recent years really developing the quality of your friendships, you will be more than happy to be there for them and you will love being present in these special life moments. But to make sure your wallet feels the same, try these steps:
Share Dresses With Friends
Do not buy a new dress for every event! Switch it up with friends, coworkers, neighbors—whoever is your size and willing to share or swap! Odds are they are in the same position, too. Extra points for a dress that doesn’t need to be dry cleaned (hi, cotton!), because that will also save some money in just a regular wash right there (because we have to be real, it is totally unacceptable to return a dress unwashed!).
The wedding a bit of a road trip? Rally friends and go together! Split gas, take turns driving and simplify the whole trip for all of you!
Airbnb It With Friends
Odds are the hotels that are suggested and rooms that are blocked by the couple are beautiful and accommodating, but not exactly cheap. Plus, they usually ask for two-to-three night minimums and that can really rack up your bill. Instead, look at Airbnb, recruit friends or just get a shared room. It will be well worth it in the end, and if you are in the wedding, odds are you will hardly be in your room anyway.
Use Uber When It’s Close
Is the venue close? Skip staying the night all together! Uber there and back. Double-check first, but more often than not, it’s much cheaper than booking a hotel. Plus, you don’t pay for gas, just the rideshare service fee.
Use Credit Card Points to Travel
Out-of-town wedding? Make sure you use your credit card points to buy that airfare! It can really save you. And if you travel often, get a travel credit card to really rake in the miles. Plus, as more friends start to get rings on their fingers (and this is especially helpful for my fellow friends out there who went to college out of state like I did), you’ll likely have to travel more to these events and this will really help you out.
Stick the the Registry…and Try to Get There First
Honestly, it’s what every couple prefers. They know what they want. And if all the more affordable things are gone (which is one reason to really get there before everyone else does—don’t be a procrastinator!), the Honeyfund is a good bet. Also, remember, any little thing counts. People are usually appreciative of whatever you contribute, but you definitely should contribute something, regardless of the other wedding expenses (it’s just not polite or proper etiquette to not).
And Be Honest When You Just Can’t Be There…But Still Find a Way to Be Thoughtful
Sometimes you just can’t be there. Circumstances come up and your finances just aren’t cutting it. It’s important to be honest, but since this time is about your friend, be compassionate. Whatever you cannot be a part of or afford, doesn’t mean you can’t make up for it in a thoughtful way. Call people on their special days, send texts, buy a drink for a friend on their bachelorette party, send flowers—let them know you are thinking about them. It can make all the difference.
Weddings are for the most part, just as fun as you expect them to be and for the people you love most, they are definitely events you want to be there for (and when/if it is your turn, you will definitely want people there for you!). Commit to being smart about how you spend your money for weddings with these simple steps and you will be able to enjoy them with a little less stress.
Jenna Wohlwend is a content strategist at a tech company in San Francisco and runs her own lifestyle blog, Jenna Rose Colored Glasses. She has her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and loves karaoke, reading, cooking and traveling with her husband.
You should also check out How To Live Sustainably When You’re On A Freaking Budget or 5 Home Items You Should Try To Snag From Grandma!
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