11 secrets to saving money as a wedding guest

by Susan Paige
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Weddings are great fun and an amazing opportunity to celebrate with the people who are most important to you, but it’s okay to feel apprehensive about them, especially when you have a limited budget. If all your friends seem to be getting married at once and you’re worried about how you’ll afford the wedding circuit this year, we’ve got some tips to help you save money and enjoy the day without breaking the bank. 


  • Budget properly


Rather than leaving it to the last minute, start budgeting for a wedding you’ll be attending as soon as you receive the invitation. Try to consider all the costs involved in the event, which may include gifts, travel expenses and outfits as well as additional functions such as engagement parties or hen dos.

Make a note of all of these costs and try to track your expenses in advance, as this will help you to prioritise your spending and determine what you can afford. For example, it may be that you can forgo a professional pre-wedding hairdo or save on the extravagant gift you had planned by shopping for something more modest.

If you have multiple weddings coming up on your calendar you may need to spend less money elsewhere to ensure you can attend, whether that means making your coffee at home or avoiding takeaways. You could even set a specific amount of money aside for each wedding, ensuring that you don’t eat into this budget through everyday spending.


  • Invest in a timeless outfit


Wedding guest dresses can be expensive, but an easy way to save money is to recycle an outfit you already have in your wardrobe. Buying new clothes for each wedding you attend may seem like part of the fun, but it will impact on your pocket and the environment. You can easily update an outfit with different accessories and shoes for a fresh look, allowing you to look great and save money simultaneously. Buy a timeless wedding guest dress from a company like BombshellHQ that you feel great in and don’t worry about wearing it more than once, as it’s probably only you who’ll know!


  • Plan ahead


As soon as that Save The Date arrives, book your accommodation and travel. By the time the invitations come around, everyone else will be booking too and you might lose out on a great early deal. Planning ahead means you can avoid last-minute booking and gives you chance to sign up for travel alerts to secure the best prices, which means you could pay up to two-thirds less.


  • Check out the gift list early


If the couple has shared an online gift list, try to look at it quickly. Often there’ll be a wide selection of gifts to choose from at a range of prices, with some less expensive items on there alongside pricier ones. There’s no shame in selecting a gift that suits your budget – any happy couple worth their salt won’t wish you to overspend unnecessarily. 

By getting to the gift list ahead of the other wedding guests you’ll be able to take your pick, choosing something that the couple genuinely wants while still having some freedom over how much or how little you want to spend.


  • Split the cost


There’s a good chance that other wedding guests will be looking to save money, too, and it’s easier to spend less if you can share some of the expenses with friends. For example, if you really want to get the couple a more expensive gift, could you split the cost with others and gift the item as a group? You could also split a taxi fare or the cost of a rental car with other attendees, which allows you to cut down on your spending while also enjoying quality time with friends and family.


  • Research hotels


It may be convenient to just book a room at the wedding venue itself, but you should look into other options before making a decision. It may be that there’s a local hotel, airbnb or bed and breakfast just down the road that’s much cheaper, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on a bargain. 


  • Share a room


If you’ll be flying solo at the next wedding, you could avoid paying more than you have to by sharing a room with a friend. Ask around to see if another solo friend would like to go halves on accommodation with you, or better yet, share a family room or holiday property between a whole group. Not only will this be a cheaper option, but it’ll also be a lot more fun to get ready and wind down with your best pals!


  • Ask friends or family to babysit


If you have children and they aren’t invited to the wedding, ask a close friend or family member who won’t be attending if they’d be able to look after the kids for you. This is a win–win, as it’ll save you money on hiring a babysitter and means you can sort out your childcare well in advance for peace of mind.


  • Do your own hair and makeup


A wedding is the perfect excuse to get glammed up and look your most fabulous, but do you really need a professional to do your hair and makeup? By practising your best techniques beforehand you can easily take on the job yourself, saving some money along the way. Use this as an opportunity to brush up on your beauty skills, or if you really don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself, ask a friend to help you. Trust us, you’ll still look amazing in the photographs!


  • Offer your services


Instead of buying a physical wedding gift for the soon-to-be married couple, consider offering your services to them as an alternative. Planning and enacting a wedding is stressful work and there are no doubt plenty of ways in which your assistance would be valuable.

If you’re a talented baker you could offer to help with the wedding cake, while sewing skills could be put to use to help with alterations. If you’re great at DIY or crafting you may even be able to help with the wedding décor, so be sure to ask if the happy couple need a hand with anything. If you’re a talented musician you may even want to offer your support by playing a short set at the reception, or perhaps take on DJ duties if required.


  • Don’t feel guilty for saying no


If you’ve crunched the numbers, tried everything to cut the costs and an upcoming wedding is still proving too much of a financial strain, you shouldn’t feel guilty for declining an invitation. Sometimes you have other financial priorities and it’s okay to say no; after all, no couple wants their friend to be put in a difficult position.

Most couples will be understanding and as long as you RSVP as soon as possible to let them know you won’t be attending, there shouldn’t be an issue. When planning for events in future, think about the people you’re closest to and make a priority list of weddings you couldn’t possibly miss, allowing you to budget for these in advance.

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