These days, weddings happen year round, but spring through early fall are peak wedding season. If you’ve got invitations and save-the-dates stacking up on your fridge, you’re probably already wondering how you’re going to afford it all. Use these ten tips to survive wedding season without going into debt or using up all your spare cash.
Set a Wedding Budget
Budgets aren’t just for brides. You probably already know how many weddings you’ll be invited to. Look at your budget and then set a limit for gifts and related travel. Once you’ve set your budget, prioritize it amongst all the invitations. You may find that you can only attend one out-town-wedding and four in-town weddings, and will only send small gifts to the rest.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Attend
Don’t fall into the “they came to ours” trap. Your situation is not their situation. Unless it’s your sister, brother, parent, child, or best friend, you don’t have to go. If it’s your third cousin three states away that you met once, you really don’t have to go. She probably doesn’t even want you to come and only sent an invitation because her mother told her to.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Spend as Much as They Did
Once again, it doesn’t matter what they spent on your wedding gift. Your situations are different. If all you can afford is a card and a promise to make them dinner (and admire the pictures) after they honeymoon, they’ll appreciate it. Or give them a service – maybe you’re good at painting and they just bought a house. Give them a weekend of painting help. The key is not to skip the gift entirely. A simple card says you at least gave the couple some thought before you ate the free dinner and drank the free booze.
Shop Early to Save on Gifts
Check the registry as soon as you receive the save the date. Plan to buy your gift four or five months in advance to ensure that the gifts in your price range are still available. Lower-priced gifts are often snatched up for bridal showers.
Buy Several Gifts at Once
If you’re attending mostly local weddings, make one trip to buy all the gifts. That way you can be sure you don’t go over budget. It also saves gas and time.
Don’t Veer from the Registry to Save Money
Rather than buy something mid-priced that’s not on the list but looks really nice, buy a selection of cheap things and combine them into one gift. Trust me, if they didn’t register for the $50 10-glass set, they don’t want it. If you do veer off-list, include the receipt. Don’t make the couple figure out where you bought it so they can return it.
Gift Cards and Cash Are Golden
If you can’t find a gift in your price range, give cash or a gift card from a store where they’re registered. Don’t get creative with the gift cards, though. If you live in another state, they may not be able to use a gift card from your local store. If you don’t live near a store where they’re registered, either give cash or order a gift card online.
Re-Gift Wisely (No One Wants Your Old Junk)
Many people re-gift wedding gifts. You can pull off a nice crystal vase or a silver frame, but no one wants the ugly plastic pitcher you used once or the cheap doll you picked up on your last vacation and now don’t have a place for.
Turn an Out-of-Town Wedding into Your Vacation
If you’re invited to an out-of-town wedding in a location you’ve always wanted to visit, stretch the trip out on either side and turn it into your affordable vacation for the year.
Wear the Same Suit or Dress to All of Them
You don’t have to buy a different outfit and shoes for each wedding. No one will notice what you’re wearing – all eyes are on the bride. If it fits, looks good on you, and doesn’t compete with the bride or her bridesmaids, that’s all that matters.
I’m lucky – I only have two weddings to attend this year. We were invited to a third wedding, but attending would have cost $1500. Even though the bride attended ours, it’s just not in our budget. I did send a nice gift from her registry, which I bought when it was on sale! We’ll survive wedding season just fine.
If you have other tips, share them in the comments! You might also find some of my Christmas shopping tips helpful. Many can also be applied to wedding gifts.