April showers bring May flowers as the old adage says, but we also know that May is a popular month for couples going to the chapel.
Regardless of what JLo’s lyrics say, love is expensive. The average cost of attending a wedding in 2019 was $430 (though it fluctuates based on the type of wedding, gifts purchased, relationship with the couple, location, etc.). Whether you’re in the wedding or just attending, expenses can pop up everywhere. If you’re ready to start accepting invitations, attending weddings and showers, and buying gifts, read on for notes on surviving the wedding season.
Attire: You don’t have to buy something new for every event, but we understand wanting to (and that your hands are tied if your friend is demanding her bridesmaids buy the same dress). If you do have a say, consider trading with or borrowing from a friend or shopping at consignment shops. Beyond the savings, you’re resisting the throwaway fast fashion culture and standing for sustainability (purchasing one used item reduces its carbon, waste, and water footprints by 82%.
Travel: While destination weddings are likely less costly overall for the bride and groom, they can up your expenses exponentially. It’s incredibly common to research travel costs before RSVPing to a wedding so it’s also common for people to decline an invitation if attending is cost-prohibitive (1 in 5 do it). If you do attend, you’ll pay for your own lodging (though there is often a discounted price for wedding guests) and any excursions, drinks, and meals outside of scheduled wedding events. And whether you’re arriving by plane, train, or automobile, etiquette says you’ll be doing it on your own dime. Tuesday and Wednesday are almost always the cheapest days to fly, while Friday is usually the most expensive so consider flying out midweek and schedule your flight as far in advance as you can.
Gifts: Traditionally, and thankfully, giving a gift isn’t mandatory, but it’s highly encouraged (and expected). Use the registry. It’s literally a list of everything the couple wants. Plus you can usually sort the list by price so it’s easier to find something that falls into your budget. It’s always tough to know how much to give for each occasion. Experts suggest following the 60-20-20 rule meaning you spend 60% of your budget on the wedding gift, 20% on the shower gift, and 20% on the engagement gift. The total amount of the budget should depend on your relationship with the couple. It’s best to send the couple gifts before the wedding, but you have up to two months after the wedding date.
The key takeaway from all of this is you shouldn’t break the bank celebrating someone else’s wedding. If you’re a casual acquaintance of the couple, don’t feel bad about checking no on that RSVP card. If you’re close with the couple, don’t feel bad about being honest about your financial limitations. It can be an awkward conversation to have, but a true friend will never push you to spend more than you can afford to prove your love.
What are some of the craziest wedding expenses you’ve encountered as a guest? Let us know in the comments.