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How To Survive Wedding Season Without Going Broke – Part 1

Amelia Mularz
June 3, 2013

budget wedding guest outfit

Get the look - wedding guest outfit with coupons : dress - Forever 21 | Guess Pumps - Bloomingdale's | Kate Spade Earrings - Lord and Taylor | Watch (similar) - Aeropostale | Necklace - Nasty Gal | Bangles (similar) - Bloomingdale's | Purse - Forever 21


You hear warnings about hurricane season, dry season, and even allergy season. But wedding season? Without even a cautionary glass clinking it can sweep in and drain your bank account while you’re off doing the chicken dance with your grandma.

According to a recent American Express survey, the average wedding guest spends $539 per wedding. Multiply that a few times if your friends are in the midst of a wedding boon and you could be out some serious cash.


Fortunately we’re here to help. Read on for tips to keep expenses at bay as a wedding guest.

  1. There is saving in numbers. Get a few friends together and split the cost of a larger registry item, like a sheet set or a stand mixer. You may spend less than you would if you went solo, and your gift will still look pretty darn impressive.

  2. Don’t forget the one-year rule. Tradition says you have up to a year to buy a gift. So if you have three weddings jammed into one summer, spread the gift giving (and the credit card debt) over several months. Just bring a card to the reception explaining that a present is coming soon and hit up Crate & Barrel when your finances are a little more in check.

  3. Do the math. By the time you’re stuffing cash into an envelope at the reception, you may already be on gift number three. Geesh! Experts at recommend coming up with a gift budget that makes you feel comfy, and then breaking the total down to 20 percent for the engagement, 20 percent for the shower, and 60 percent for the wedding. If there’s no engagement party, add that extra 20 percent to the wedding present.

  4. Attack the registry early. There is nothing worse than waiting to the last minute and discovering the only item left on the registry is a $700 robotic vacuum cleaner. Save yourself the shock and shop early so you have plenty of price points to choose from. Use coupons to save yourself some dough on that gift.

  5. Ditch the cash. If you got a little too excited with the shower gift (yes, Bed Bath & Beyond is a wondrous place and it’s been known to happen), you may need to scale back on the wedding present. In that case, cash might not be your best option. While you may feel self-conscious about giving $50, spending the same amount on a bottle of wine that hails from the honeymoon destination makes for a thoughtful offering that doesn’t broadcast your budget.

  6. Get planning…now! Wedding invitations usually go out three or four months in advance, so unless your friends are doing a quickie ceremony in Vegas, you have no excuse to slack. Book your flights early (especially if the wedding is over a holiday weekend) and snag a hotel room ASAP. Wedding blocks go fast and you may miss out on a special room rate.

  7. Sharing is caring. If you’re cool with skipping out on the game room and continental breakfast at the hotel, consider renting a nearby house or condo with friends. Not only will you up the weekend’s party vibe, you’ll probably save some cash, too.

  8. Renting is the new black. Just because you don’t have to buy a bridesmaid dress, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The American Express survey says that even regular guests spend around $161 per wedding on clothes and accessories. At Rent the Runway you can borrow a designer dress for as little as $40. Also check out Lending Luxury for more wedding-worthy frocks and Bag Borrow or Steal for handbags and jewelry.

  9. Being a good friend shouldn’t bankrupt you. If you’re a bridesmaid, keep in mind that not everything is mandatory (unless your friend is a made-for-TV bridezilla). If the group trip to the salon is optional, do your own hair. If it won’t break the bride’s heart that your cuticles haven’t been trimmed, skip the manicure. Cut out some of the extras and rein in your costs big time.

  10. Attend a wedding. Get rich. Ok, so rich is a slight exaggeration, but if you’re leaving town, you may at least be able to cover all your expenses by renting out your place while you’re gone. Check out rental services like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and Roomorama and think about listing your pad for the weekend. However, depending on where you live, tread lightly. Last month, a judge ruled Airbnb illegal in NYC.


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