Winter is gone, spring has sprung, and summer is so close we can taste it. But with warmer days comes a refrigerator door covered in upcoming wedding invitations—and the stress of shoveling out the cash required of being a wedding guest.
Weddings are expensive, and they’re getting even more expensive—and not just for the engaged couple. In a recent survey, Bloomberg found that the average wedding attendee spends between $372 and $1,150 depending on their relationship to the couple. Now imagine having to spend that much cash for each wedding on your refrigerator door. Yes, we wholeheartedly feel your pain.
The good news is this: Blueprint has seven tips every wedding guest can use to not just attend the wedding, but look your best and give a great gift—all while saving some bucks.
Set a Budget + Start Saving
Save-the-dates should go out 6-8 months before the wedding, so it’s a good idea to set a budget and start putting some money away then. Once you get the invitation with the exact location of the wedding, you’ll be prepared to make travel and accommodation arrangements.
Some of us still balance the checkbook and use rainy day mason jars, but with the abundance of useful tech out there—you guessed it—there’s an app for it. We especially like Mint and Wally for tracking your bank accounts, setting budgeting goals, and avoiding overspending.
If you’re particularly tight on funds, it may be a good idea to start budgeting once you see the engagement announcement. Assuming, of course, you’ll be getting an invite. You’d know better than we would.
Book Your Flight Early + Set Up Flight Alerts
If it’s just a road trip away, take time to find other guests to travel with. You’ll save money on gas and you may just make great friends out of the experience. Sometimes wedding websites will have comments sections so you can coordinate with other guests (hello, new friends!), but you can also ask the couple to create a Facebook group where guests can chat about travel arrangements and accomodations.
If you have to fly, however, we recommend setting up flight alerts on Expedia or Kayak so you can book flights when they are at their lowest price. As soon as you find something reasonable, book it! The longer you wait, the more it’ll hurt your wallet.
Don’t Spend a Fortune on Clothes
We’re huge fans of Rent the Runway for designer women’s clothes and accessories you can rent for any occasion. Once you know the requested attire, you can search the site by occasion to find an outfit that’s perfect for you. Unsure of your size? They’ll send you several sizes to try on! And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the suit-wearers out there—we love Menguin, The Black Tux, and Generation Tux for inexpensive suit rentals ideal for any wedding.
As an alternative, we also recommend buying pieces that can be repurposed over and over again by switching out tops, accessories, and shoes to make it feel like a brand “new” look every time. It’s also a great idea to check out local vintage thrift stores for unique pieces. Fashion is cyclical, so you’re bound to find something great if you give yourself enough time to look.
Look For Hotel Group Rates or Book A Group Airbnb
The couple will likely share hotel information near their wedding venue on their website, so be sure to check out the hotel cancellation policies. If the hotel has a flexible cancellation policy (24 hours, for example) you can lock in a group rate and then search Airbnb for cheaper alternatives.
Once you have a firm number of people to split an Airbnb with, search the site for entire homes. Splitting the cost of an Airbnb will often save you big bucks compared to a hotel stay, and everyone can contribute food so you can cook instead of spending a ton of cash at restaurants.
Group Gifting is Great
Group gifting is all the rage for big ticket items, especially on universal registries like Blueprint Registry. It’s proper wedding registry etiquette to include gifts across all price points, and with any luck the couple has done just that. If not, however, it’s perfectly acceptable to go in with friends on bigger ticket items.
We’ve even heard of close friends of the couple agreeing to no exchange of gifts on their respective wedding days, like a “I won’t get you a wedding gift, and you won’t have to get one for me” sort of deal.
If you still really want to get the couple a gift, wedding etiquette states that guests have up to a year after the wedding to send the couple a gift. You might not show up to the wedding with a gift in hand, but you have plenty of time after the big day to get the couple something thoughtful.
It’s A-Okay to Skip the Pre-Parties
Bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and stag nights can often be the most expensive part of attending a wedding. If the pre-wedding festivities require travel or are simply too much for your wallet, it’s okay to skip them. Believe us, the couple would much rather have you at the wedding anyway.
Learn Some Easy DIY Beauty Hacks
There is tons of great step-by-step beauty tutorial content out there for both men and women—we recommend scouting Pinterest and YouTube for hair and makeup tutorials, and practicing ahead of time to refine your wedding look.
You’ll save money, you’ll learn a new skill, and you’ll look and feel like a million bucks!
We created a downloadable wedding guest budget checklist to help you out. Print it out—it’ll look great on the refrigerator door next to all the wedding invitations!
No matter how you slice it, attending a wedding is going to cost some cash. Without sacrificing quality or experience, it’s very possible to swing being a wedding guest on a budget with the right planning. Our tips will help you cut corners so you can stress less, party more, and get the most out of the wedding season.