I love attending weddings, but too many weddings, too close together, can throw off your budget in a big way. Last summer, we attended five weddings over the course of six weeks, and this fall, we had three to go to. You can always politely decline an invitation, but if you want to go to a wedding, there are ways to do it without blowing your budget.
Wedding invitations are usually sent out six weeks (or more) before the wedding, but the Save the Dates get mailed much earlier than that. As soon as you commit to going to a wedding, you should begin planning for how you are going to pay for the expense.
Make sure you’re budgeting for these wedding related expenses:
- the gift (money or a gift off the registry)
- a hotel room (if you’re planning on spending the night)
- travel expenses
If you are a member of the wedding party, you will have additional obligations that you need to plan for (bachelorette parties are not cheap!).
Set a Realistic Budget
Look at your calendar and set a realistic budget for all of the upcoming events. If you have multiple weddings, and multiple bachelorette parties, bridal showers, etc. to attend, you need to estimate how much each of those things will cost and factor that in.
You should not sacrifice your financial obligations and goals to pay for these events.
Once you’ve determined a budget, figure out what you can afford, and what you need to politely decline. People will totally understand if you can’t make it, and declining an invitation hurts a lot less than paying interest on credit card purchases.
Divide your budget by the number of months you have leading up to the events, and begin shelling away some money in a dedicated savings account.
Book a Room
Don’t wait until the last minute to book a hotel room for the wedding. Oftentimes the bride and groom set aside a block of hotel rooms at a (slightly) discounted rate for wedding guests. You might do better searching on your own or booking an Airbnb, but if you want the convenience of a wedding shuttle, to and from the reception, go with the hotel the bride and groom recommend.
If you are looking to save money with the hotel, you could share a room with someone. Mr. Farmhouse Finance and I have booked hotel rooms with two queen beds and split the cost with another couple.
If the wedding is within a short drive to your home, skip the hotel altogether, and either have a designated driver or get an Uber or a taxi home.
Don’t Stress About the Gift
Give as much as you feel comfortable giving, and don’t worry about having to meet a certain standard of the price per head (or whatever the rule is). Most couples are thrilled to have you in attendance, and don’t care if you give $50 or $300.
If you are an artist or have a specific skill, you could give a more meaningful, personal gift. A friend of mine gave us some maple syrup from their property in Vermont at our wedding, and we absolutely loved it.
Registries should include gifts at all different price points, so it’s always a good idea to check there for some ideas for gifts that fit your budget.
You Don’t Need a New Outfit
Unless you’re in the bridal party, chances are, you don’t need a new outfit. I used to buy a new dress for every wedding I attended. Last summer, with five weddings, I realized that was not sustainable (nor necessary).
Check your closet. Do you have a nice dress or a suit? Bam! You’ve got your outfit.
I keep a few dresses in rotation, but have also used Rent the Runway for a couple weddings. Just dress up for the occasion, and beyond that nobody will care what you’re wearing.
Weddings should be a joyous occasion, but the expense can easily stress you out. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event you get invited to, and be picky about the weddings you travel for.
If the bride or groom are close friends or family, plan ahead for the expense. Look for ways to save money on accommodations and attire, and don’t stress about how much you can afford to give as a gift.
How do you budget for attending weddings?
Illusion of Scarcity Worksheet (PDF)
Download this free worksheet and start paying yourself first.
- Budget for financial obligations and recurring expenses
- Prioritize your financial goals
- Make all your transfers on payday