Wedding season is in full swing and busier than ever, thanks to last years’ postponements. Nearly half of engaged couples who were set to walk down the aisle in 2020 postponed their wedding, according to the 2020 Real Weddings Study from The Knot.
This has created a wave of wedding ceremonies this summer, which can be very pricey for people who have multiple events to attend.
Brides and grooms aren’t the only ones dishing out big bucks for their big day — guests also throw down a lot of cash to watch friends and family tie the knot. In fact, the average wedding guest spends nearly $1,000 per celebration, including the gift, attire, and travel accommodations.
These expenses can be so overwhelming that 1 in 5 guests decline the invitation, as reported by a 2019 study from BankRate.com. But if you don’t want to miss out on the celebration, some thoughtful planning and savvy shopping can help curb costs.
Here are 9 savings hacks to offset wedding guest expenses.
The average wedding guest shelled out $120 on a gift in 2019. “Of course the question of how much to spend on a wedding gift is more of an individual decision as opposed to following the average. It ultimately boils down to your relationship with the couple, your personal budget, the type of wedding that’s held, in addition to other factors,” according to The Knot.
Shop Off the Registry
Wedding gift registries are a helpful guide in determining what a couple needs and wants, but you can sometimes save by purchasing off the registry.
Use a site like PriceGrabber or GoogleShopping to run a quick price comparison or download a price tracking tool like PopCart to get instant savings notifications for an item the couple wants.
Buy a Gift Card
Gift cards allow you to stick to a fixed budget. For instance, if your budget is $50, you can buy a gift card for just $50. Otherwise, you may be more likely to increase your total gift cost when choosing a registry item around that price since you may not have accounted for tax and shipping.
What’s even better is that you can save more by purchasing discount gift cards. For example, gift card resellers like CardCash.com offer over 6% off JCPenney gift cards (a $50 gift card will cost you just $47) and over 20% off gift cards to SpaWish, which the couple can use on their honeymoon.
Give Yourself Time
Between all the expenses that come with attending your loved one’s wedding, don’t stress about buying a gift right away, especially if that means charging it to a credit card that will accrue interest. Instead, give yourself time to save up for the wedding gift, even if that means giving it after the celebration.
Etiquette experts say it’s acceptable to send a gift up to one year after the wedding, but set alerts in your calendar so you don’t forget. This strategy allows you to snag wedding gifts for less by shopping for them during popular sales events, such as Labor Day and Black Friday.
One of the more commonly overlooked expenses of attending a wedding is buying a new outfit. Guests spend an average of $155 on attire they will wear to a wedding.
Shop Your Closet
After more than a year of being cooped up, the excitement of going out can cloud your judgment when it comes to buying a new outfit for your loved one’s big day.
Before you go shopping, spend time looking through your closet to see the options you have that could work for the upcoming celebration. An older dress you’ve worn before can look new again by adding a statement necklace or shiny clutch. Play around with what you have first before spending any money.
If you’ve exhausted all your party attire and still need something new to wear, consider shopping used to save big. Head to a local consignment store to see the dress and suit options it has available. Or you can go online to sites like Poshmark or Tradesy, where you can shop in other people’s closets for gently used but new-to-you fashion.
Rent Your Look
When the wedding dress code calls for black tie, consider renting a gown from sites like RentTheRunway.com for a fraction of regular retail prices.
For example, this Lace Puff Sleeve Dress by ML Monique Lhuillier will set you back just $70 when you rent it, compared with $495 when buying it new. The site allows you to search by style or event, and you can opt for either a four- or eight-day rental, depending on your travel dates.
You can choose between two sizes to ensure the perfect fit for no additional cost. The site even covers shipping and laundry care — another huge bonus!
Out-of-town weddings that require travel cost guests more in the long run. In fact, guests who flew to a wedding spent an average of $1,440.
If you have to fly to the wedding destination, offset some of the travel costs by redeeming your credit card rewards. Considering that 31% of U.S. credit cardholders have never redeemed their rewards, there’s a good chance you have enough miles or points to get a free flight.
Even if you don’t have enough miles for roundtrip airfare, you may have enough to cover one leg of the trip, which will help you significantly reduce your travel costs.
If you were advised to reserve a room through the wedding block, remember that this option won’t necessarily get you the best price. In many cases, you can find a cheaper rate at the same hotel by comparing prices through third-party booking sites or consider staying at another nearby hotel.
Share a Home Rental
If you are close with other guests attending the wedding, ask whether they would be interested in splitting the cost of a home rental. The bigger the home and more people you get to go in on the cost, the cheaper it will be per person.
Plus, you will have access to a full kitchen and can divvy up supplying food and drinks among guests to reduce the cost of eating out.
Review sites like HomeAway.com and Airbnb for listings based on the wedding destination and factor in the cost of ride-shares in case you don’t have a car to get to and from the wedding events. In this case, you may be better off finding a home rental close to the wedding venue.
How Much You Spend Is Up to You
You don’t have to spend the average of nearly $1,000 — or even close to that — to attend a wedding with a little planning. Party-goers can save a hefty sum by comparison shopping, waiting for sales, redeeming rewards, and renting clothes, in addition to the other tips listed in this article.