Wedding season is upon us, and my sister always warned me that when it came to friends getting married—when it rains it pours. 2018 is definitely that year for me. I have been invited to over five weddings, and along with those weddings comes the bridal showers and bachelorettes, all within the time span of a few short summer months.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this is an incredibly exciting time for my girl friends, and I’m super happy for them. However, if you’ve been to a wedding before, or any of the events that come along with them, you know that it can add up quick, and obviously you also have other priorities in your life too. I like to have money to travel, to do other things throughout the summer like go cottaging, and have my own adventures. Saying that, I do love my friends and I wouldn’t miss out on their “big days” unless I absolutely had to. Plus, weddings and bachelorettes are always a blast at the end of the day!
So how do you make it work and also still have time for the other things in your life you enjoy like traveling? Here are some tips, and PS if you have any too, I’d love for you to share them in the comments! I’ll take anything I can get 😉
Start a savings account
This is something I’ve always done for travel, each pay day I’d put aside about $100 into a separate account which I never touched unless it was travel related. The money added up quick! So when it comes to wedding things, I don’t stop adding this money to my travel account. This is something that’s important to me, so that account stays untouched unless I’m planning travel.
Instead, consider opening a separate account for saving for all the weddings you need to attend. Do something similar where a certain amount of dollars comes off your pay and you’ll quickly learn to live with less while saving up for all those expenses that come along with wedding season.
I’ve never been the traditional kind of gal when it came to wedding gifts. Most of my friends have lived with their significant others for years before getting engaged, so how badly do you really need the random $100 serving dish or bath towels? I’m also not huge into giving money. I just think it’s weird to help you pay for your wedding? Is this just me? Maybe that’s rude but I’m saying it any way.
Anyways, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get the bride and groom something that’s junk and will just end up in a box going to the Salvation Army a week after the wedding. A registry is great because they are things that you know the bride and groom actually want, but I usually go a different route because I find often the stuff on the registry is way out of my budget (and way over that $100 limit they say you should spend on a wedding gift). So rethink the traditional gifts and do something different.
You could do or buy something DIY for example, like a customized gift from Etsy, or another great gift I’ve seen people do is buy 6-12 bottles of wine and label them all for a different milestone in the new couples marriage (first anniversary, date night, etc.). Another option is to buy an “experience” for the couple. I’m a big fan of this option because it gives them something to do together versus a “thing”. In the past, I’ve bought gift cards for nice spas that are in the city that they live in, or if you know they’re going on a honeymoon somewhere, pick a really fun day trip or tour you can for them to go on. Trading gift cards can be great too. Did your family give you a gift card for somewhere you don’t love to shop? There are a few online resources available that let you swap those cards for other ones so you can get the bride and groom a gift card for where they have their registry or for a nice dinner out, etc.
TIP! If you don’t attend the wedding or bridal shower, this doesn’t mean you are still obligated to get the person a gift. This is a thing of the past. So unless they are a BFF and you feel super guilty for not being able to attend, save your pennies.
Get creative with other expenses
When you get invited to a wedding or any of the accompanying events, you’ll also need to usually book accommodations, figure out transportation, potentially need to pay for your hair and makeup if you’re in the wedding party, etc. This shit can get expensive quick! So it’s time to get creative.
First off, do you have any friends that are in any of the cities that the weddings or events are in that you could potentially crash with? What about having friends that you can share rooms with to save on the expense of a hotel? Also, even though there is usually a discounted rate at a hotel for the wedding guests, make sure you shop around for other accommodations and compare prices. For example, my girlfriend got married in Ottawa and I had to be there for three nights. The hotel the wedding guests were staying at, even with the discounted code, was about double the price of the hotel I ended up staying in and was only a five minute walk down the road. AirBNB’s (get a $45 credit when you sign-up for AirBNB here) and hostels can be great options too, you’re hardly really at the hotel any way!
I don’t have a car which makes it very inconvenient to get around for wedding events. So whenever I have to go anywhere I look around for different options and what is the cheapest—plane, train, bus, etc. I will also look into seeing how other people are getting to the wedding to see if there is an opportunity to carpool. Alternatively, if there are other people leaving from the same city as you, it may be cheaper to all rent a car together. Rideshare websites like KangaRide can also be good options to snag a cheap price to your destination.
If you’re not in the wedding, you do not need to buy a new outfit, find something in your closet or borrow a dress from a friend, and call it a day. If you’re in the wedding, there’s no way to really get around buying a bridesmaid dress, so that’s one expense you’ll need to suck it up for. However, when the wedding is done, try and sell your bridesmaid dress or bring it to a consignment store. Most of the time these aren’t dresses you’ll ever wear again any way!
Another thing to think about is your hair and makeup as a bridesmaid. This can get super expensive and to be honest, in my opinion, if a bride cares that much about what your hair and makeup looks like, they should swallow this expense. However, that’s not usually the case, so alternatively I suggest a good ol’ DIY. Watch tutorials and just keep it simple, get one of your friends to do it, or visit a store like Sephora or Mac and usually they offer free or inexpensive makeup jobs. Oh, and paint your own nails! No one can really tell the difference at the end of the day any way, and everyone will have their eyes on the bride, not the bridesmaids. This could save you hundreds of dollars!
Learn to say “no”
This is a huge one, but is so important. If you only have a couple of weddings in a year, that’s not THAT many commitments, but often times it just happens that a ton of your friends get married all within a few months, or weeks of one another. This is where you need to exercise the use of the word “no”. Some things just do not make sense, and it’s important that you don’t go broke or give up really important things in your life because of other people. It’s okay to be a bit selfish, especially if it means you might need to take out a loan to be able to attend all the wedding festivities. So how do you know when to say no exactly and what to say no too?
For starters, how good of a friend is the person that’s getting married? Weirdly enough there are people that still have weddings with 400 people and they invite everyone that has ever entered their lives, even if they hardly talk to or see the person anymore. These are the people that you say “thanks, but no thanks” to. If you feel really guilty you can send them a card and a gift (but it’s not required), however, if you’re not that close to them any way, they likely won’t miss you at their wedding (or other events) or even notice you’re not there. It sounds sad, but it’s true.
The next thing to say “no” to is some of the added activities that come with weddings—Stag and Doe’s, bridal showers, bachelorettes, etc. If you can only make one event work to go to, the wedding is obviously the most important. I also like to go with the “first come, first serve” motto. The people that get put into my calendar first are the ones I’m going to prioritize, especially if your wedding activities fall on the same days as theirs.
Also, say “no” if financially it just is not feasible. For example, a destination wedding might not make sense for you, especially if you have limited vacation days, have to pay single supplement fees (if you’re single like me), and aren’t really into going to the destination or place that the wedding is happening. As much as I’d love to be part of the big day, it just doesn’t always make any sense.
At the end of the day, weddings are a lot of fun. I love seeing my friends so happy and having an excuse for all of us to get together, especially now that we’re older and that doesn’t happen as frequently. However, they come with a hefty price tag, so finding a way to make it work for you is important. I hope some of these tips helped! Share some of yours below in the comments 🙂
Photo credit: Union Eleven Photographers