Personal Finance 

How to Be a Wedding Guest on a Budget

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There are some expenses in our lives that sneak up on us. We don’t budget or plan for them because they come around so infrequently that it’s hard to make plans. Weddings are one of those expenses. Your wedding is a special day and because of that, bigger yet still responsible spending is warranted but that’s your wedding. What about when you attend other people’s weddings?

The expenses of attending or being a part of a friend or family member’s wedding can add up fast. If you’re one of the social butterflies of the world, those numbers could represent a sizable piece of your yearly income. How do you get these costs under control without being rude or giving the impression that you don’t care?


Sometimes there is no way to get around the expense. You have a college friend in Atlanta and a family member in Texas getting married this year and that means that you have to fly to both. Assuming that it isn’t an immediate family member and both share an equally fond spot in your heart, one thing to consider (privately, of course) is which would make a better vacation spot? Is it possible to make the wedding in to your yearly vacation? Is either location within reasonable driving distance to a vacation spot?

If that isn’t the case, it’s not unreasonable nor is it a sign of being cheap if you forego the high priced wedding gift. Maybe a small gift card and if you’re close to the person tell them that you wanted to do more but the airfare was expensive. If you don’t have the means to travel to both weddings you may have to decline one.

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So you are the person who has to plan the bridal shower? Seems like a financial non-issue but if that shower is 30 people or more, food, invitations, postage, decorations, and gifts are going to add up to money you may not have especially if you have to buy the bridesmaid’s dress too. Wedding etiquette experts say that it’s not only appropriate but also customary to ask the bridal party to take some of burden of the event.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

Managing expectations is sometimes difficult when it comes to the bachelor or bachelorette party. Some bridal parties expect a multi day Vegas trip while others would be happy to have a spa day or a night out on the local town.

Some ways to save, besides saying no to Vegas, plan it on a weeknight when venue and limo rentals are cheaper, have a cash bar if the party is large, and make sure you know what everybody does for a living. There may be opportunities to get free or low cost services for the party from those people.

Most important, don’t forget that a night of indulgence may make some people uncomfortable. A classy lunch, dinner, or spa day is a universal event that allows everybody to leave with happy memories in addition to being the low cost route.

When you got married, your event wasn’t as important to your guests as it was to you and reasonable friends and family members wouldn’t expect you to spend large sums of money to make their day special. It’s completely reasonable to set financial boundaries because if they care about you, they’re far more interested in your presence (or maybe presents) than your money.

{ 3 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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3 Responses to “How to Be a Wedding Guest on a Budget”

  1. SarahB says:

    These are great tips. We have a wedding to go to out of state next year and I’ve been looking at ways to make it cost effective. We’re hoping to make it into a long weekend mini vacation (if possible w/ our work schedules) that way we get the most out of our time away from home. It is going to be a fancy wedding at a large, historical church and a reception at a museum. I didn’t feel I had anything nice enough to wear so I did some looking and found a dress I liked a locally owned clothing store. However, it cost as much as the dress I wore for my own wedding. I did some looking and found a similar dress online for a fraction of the price. That paired with accessories I already own will make for a stunning outfit. My husband, thankfully still fits into the classic-cut suit he bought for our wedding. Making our only real expenses gas to drive there, lodging and the wedding present.

  2. Shirley says:

    We and three other couples attended a family member’s wedding in Yosemite Nat’l Park and then spent the next four days camping there. We had a wonderful time and it didn’t break the bank.

  3. Strebkr says:

    I have combined wedding trips with other trips to create an extended weekend. If you are already paying to travel, you might as well enjoy the local stuff while you are there if you can.

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