Following the flurry of engagements between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, wedding invitations and save the dates start rolling in come springtime. Any veteran wedding guest knows that weddings can cost big bucks to attend, but here’s a look at three categories where you could potentially save money.
If the wedding is outside your hometown or state, you’ll probably incur some travel costs just to get to the wedding; but there are ways to keep those costs in check. When I attended my college roommate’s wedding in Washington, D.C., my brother lived in D.C. at the time, so I crashed with him instead of paying $100+ per night at a hotel. If you’re traveling to a wedding on your own, you might be able to carpool or share a hotel room with another guest to cut costs. Or perhaps you can redeem hotel points or airline miles rather than paying cash. Don’t assume that the block of hotel rooms saved by the couple for guests is the lowest rate. Ask about discounts for military members, AAA members, or online promotions to make sure you’re getting the best rate.
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, you might save money by flying on a weekday and spending extra time exploring the area and making a vacation out of it. Of course, just because you’re invited to a wedding doesn’t mean you have to attend, especially if the ceremony is in a far-flung destination that’s beyond your budget. Be realistic about what you can afford and don’t feel guilty declining an invitation if you need to.
Men get off relatively easy in the wedding style department. As long as they have a well-fitting suit or tux depending on the dress code, they can re-wear it to weddings and other formal gatherings for years. Women, on the other hand, feel more pressure to vary up their outfits lest the wedding photos show up on social media. To mix things up, accessorize a classic Little Black Dress with a cardigan, a bolero jacket, or a statement necklace. Swap dresses with friends or search on Rent the Runway so you’ll have something new to you to wear to each wedding. If you’re a bridesmaid, see if the bride will let you rent your dress through a website like Little Borrowed Dress rather than buying one.
If the couple has registered for gifts, shop online through cashback websites like BeFrugal or Ebates in case they’re offering any discount codes. You can also buy discounted gift cards for major retailers like Macy’s or Crate & Barrel through websites like Cardpool or GiftCardGranny and use the gift card to purchase your wedding gift (sometimes you can stack gift cards with promo codes and cashback websites, too). Alternately, if you have unredeemed credit card rewards, cash those in for a gift card towards the wedding gift.
If you’re shopping outside of the registry, get creative to find a great gift without spending a lot of money. For my cousin’s bridal shower, I found a crafter on Etsy to custom-make a Lucite tray decorated with the couple’s names and their wedding colors (she loved it!). I also know people who accrue a huge number of airline miles and hotel points through business travel. In lieu of a wedding present, they’ll cover the couple’s flight or hotel for the honeymoon. There’s often a fee for transferring miles or points, so the most efficient strategy is usually for the frequent flyer to book the flight or hotel under the couple’s names.
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