11 Ways To Survive Summer Wedding Season Without Going Broke, According To Experts
Summer means one thing: lots of weddings. Even though you may want to attend all of your friends’ weddings, not to mention their engagement parties, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties, soon, the price of doing so really adds up. But, according to finance and wedding experts, there are ways to survive summer wedding season without going broke. In essence, all you have to do is say “I do” to budgeting and getting creative when it comes to how to approach wedding expenses. Whether you start a “weddings” savings account or use an app, like BrightPlan, where you can save money for different goals (with the option of a financial planner for $20 per month), budgeting for weddings is possible.
Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert, writer, and TV personality, agrees. “From my own personal experience, I’m an expert when it comes to budgeting for weddings — I have felt over-extended when several family members and close friends all got married within the span of two years (a couple of years ago!),” she tells Bustle. “During this time, my husband and I attended 12 weddings in five different states, including one international destination and one out-of-town affair! With some forethought and planning, there are several ways to still attending weddings on a budget.”
As Woroch said, planning is key, and when you do, you can allocate a certain amount of money to your “weddings” fund — all without going broke in the process. Below, experts weigh in and give some ideas on how to do so.
1. Set A Wedding Budget — In Advance
Usually, you get plenty of notice before a couple gets married, which gives you plenty of time to start a wedding budget. “Set a budget for weddings and events, and save for them,” Jessica Bishop, founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and author of the best-selling wedding planning book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer, tells Bustle. “To avoid busting your monthly budget, it’s best to be proactive and save throughout the year. If one of your besties just got engaged, start saving now!” She says that with all of the pre-wedding events, too, from showers to bachelorette parties and the wedding day itself, you’ll be glad you did.
Courtney Jespersen, consumer savings expert at NerdWallet, agrees. “It’s so important to set a limit for your summer wedding season spending before you start making purchases,” she tells Bustle. She says that attending a series of weddings throughout the summer can rack up quite the bill — one-third of Americans say they’ve skipped or considered skipping a wedding because they couldn’t afford to go, according to a 2018 NerdWallet study. “Be realistic about how much each wedding will cost you,” she says. “Write down a dollar figure for how much you can comfortably spend on each and don’t go above it.”
2. Offer To Help Organize Wedding Events
As far as pre-wedding events are concerned, like engagement parties, Bobbi Rebell, CFP, host of the Financial Grownup podcast, suggests organizing them. “This way, you can control the cost,” she tells Bustle. “Even if you aren’t officially the main organizer, you can still offer to help with the planning and suggest ideas that will keep the costs in check. Odds are, everyone will be happier even if they are sheepish about speaking up about costs.”
3. Don’t Buy New Outfits For Each Wedding
When it comes to attending weddings, another big expense is what you wear. One easy fix is to wear the same outfit to multiple weddings — who will know?! “Find one great outfit that can be your standby for the season,” Kylie Carlson, CEO, International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning, tells Bustle.
You can also rent your outfit, especially if it’s a black-tie celebration. “Companies like Rent the Runway and The Black Tux exist for this very reason and offer a wide variety of options online,” she says. “Simply visit the site, select your dates, and review your options — you will put together a wedding day ensemble for a fraction of the cost of buying something new.”
Bishop, too, suggests not buying new outfits for each wedding occasion. “Instead, find new ways to wear outfits you already have or borrow a cute dress from a friend,” she says. “That’ll give you the thrill of wearing something new and fabulous without the expense of buying designer pieces outright.”
4. Shop At Thrift Stores, Both Online And Off
When it comes to wedding expenses, Alex DiBacco, fashion and lifestyle blogger at Chasingdaisiesblog.com, also feels that thrifted dresses are a great money-saver. “Sites like Poshmark, thredUP, and even eBay can be a huge help,” she tells Bustle. “You can find designer dresses for under $100 and can find good brands for wedding dresses, such as Lulus, for less than $20. Often, brand new items will be available, some still with tags.”
Another secondhand fashion resource is SilkRoll.com. “SilkRoll allows you to trade out old dresses sitting in your closet for new ones for each wedding you attend,” Erin Wold, co-founder of SilkRoll.com, tells Bustle. “SilkRoll allows you to save money on attire all year long while also serving as a unique platform that takes on fashion’s global pollution issue.”
Woroch also suggests shopping for a wedding outfit on sites like Facebook Marketplace. “Marketplace makes it easy to communicate with sellers through Messenger, and you can even set up a time to see the dress in person and possibly try it on,” she says. “To get the right fit, you can always go get it fitted.”
5. Split The Cost Of A Gift With Friends
One huge expense when it comes to weddings is the gift. However, there’s a simple way to save money on it. “Go in on a gift with friends,” Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ, tells Bustle. “That way, you can pool your funds and purchase one of the bigger ticket items.”
To save even more money, Bishop also recommends keeping an eye on special sales and coupons where the couple has registered.
6. Choose Your Gift Wisely
If you don’t go in on a gift with friends, Jespersen says to choose your gift — and gift budget — wisely. “One of the costliest parts of attending a wedding is purchasing the wedding gift,” she says. In fact, according to NerdWallet’s wedding guest survey, on average, Americans set their budget at $128 for the wedding gift of a good friend, but millennials plan on spending more.
To save money, Jespersen recommends making a personalized gift or shopping in the sales section. “Plus, there are lots of Black Friday in July sales at this time of the year,” she says. “Or, in lieu of a traditional gift, give a card with cash, a check, or a gift card. You’ll be able to set the exact amount you want to spend and forgo the cost of a gift bag, box, and fancy wrapping.”
Alison Norris, advice strategist and CFP at SoFi, also suggests not shopping at places where the couple is registered. “You can often find the same items for better prices by shopping on your own,” she tells Bustle. “When doing so, simply call the original store and let them know to remove that item from the registry.” She also says not to forget about rewards accumulated via your credit cards. “Trade in your loyalty points for gift cards at wedding-registry hot-spots.”
As far as gift ideas, Woroch also says you can gift accrued airline miles to the couple for their honeymoon. “I’d also recommend providing a service as a gift,” she says. “Most couples financing their wedding welcome free or discounted services as a gift, including photography, videography, day-of makeup and hair prep, decorating help, watching the couple’s pet(s) or house while they go on their honeymoon, or even officiating the ceremony.”
7. Delay Buying A Gift
Sarah Hollenbeck, a shopping and savings expert at Offers.com, reminds you that you can give your gift several months after the wedding, too. “If you are strapped for cash and need to save up before purchasing something on the registry, don’t max out your cards just yet,” she tells Bustle. “Wait until after the ceremony to send your gift. While anytime throughout the next year is welcome, about six months after is great timing because it still offers them some excitement after the dust has started to settle.” She also says to throw in a card that reminisces on a fun memory from their big day, and know that you can rest easy since you were able to celebrate with them without going bankrupt.
8. Rent A House With Friends Or Use Last-Minute Housing Sites
Chances are, other friends of yours are going to the same wedding, so why not rent a place together via Booking.com, Airbnb, or HomeAway? “Consider renting a house and splitting the costs,” Carlson says. “Having a space with a kitchen will also help you reduce the costs of eating out during your stay.”
Rebell also says to look at splitting the cost of a hotel suite. “A suite with separate bedrooms may actually be cheaper than separate rooms,” she says. Or, if you don’t want to share housing with others, check out last-minute hotel rate discounts via HotelTonight, Bishop says.
9. Start Accumulating Airline Miles And Credit Card Rewards Points
For out-of-town weddings, Dennis says to make sure you have a credit card that lets you accumulate airline miles. “If you already have travel on the books for the year, to rack up rewards, sign up for a loyalty program and try to book as many flights with the same airline,” he says.
Bishop agrees. “If you’re able to use a credit card responsibly, you can earn great rewards points for signing up for certain rewards cards,” she says. “Use them throughout the month for expenses, but be sure to pay them off each month.”
Janet Alvarez, a personal finance expert at Wise Bread, also says you can take advantage of perks you get from signing up for a new credit card. “Depending on how many weddings you’re attending and how far you’re traveling, opening a new account may work in your favor — so long as you plan to pay off the balance right away and it won’t adversely affect your credit score,” she tells Bustle.
10. Fly To Destination Weddings In The Middle Of The Week
A cost-effective way to save on airfare to a wedding is by flying mid-week. “Destination wedding guests will often turn the event into their own vacation by coming a few days early or staying a few days later,” Megan Velez of the Destination Weddings Group tells Bustle. “We suggest starting your vacation in the middle of the week since hotel prices go down for non-peak days.” She also recommends booking excursions in advance instead of on the spot. “That way, you’ve locked in advanced pricing, as well as given yourself time to shop around and see if there are less expensive options available.”
11. Get Creative With Your Travel Budget
When figuring out your travel budget, it’s good to get creative so it’s as cost-effective as possible. “Take a step back, look at the total picture for the summer, and see where there is wiggle room,” Rebell says. “For instance, see if you could add connecting flights to lower the airfare.” Rebell also suggests brainstorming alternative forms of travel if airfares are too high. “If the event is not that far, think about organizing a group car ride or even consider taking a bus. It’s not glam, but it could mean monumental savings.”
So there you have it — how to survive wedding season without going broke. However, all in all, if attending a certain wedding will set you back financially, don’t be afraid to RSVP no, Dennis says. “Be honest with the couple and have a private conversation with them before you send in your regrets,” he says. “They’ll understand, especially if they, too, have experienced an influx of wedding invitations.”
Norris agrees. “If you’re cash-strapped with unintentional calendar crowding, decide which of the engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and wedding receptions are most important to you and gracefully send your regrets to the rest,” she says. “Going into debt to become a wedding guest is not an acceptable strategy.”
But, if you really want to make it work and attend as many weddings and related events as possible, keep finessing the tips above.