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In elementary school you may have been taught that there are four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. But your teachers left out two seasons that impact your schedule and budget in adulthood: engagement and wedding seasons.
Pay close attention to your social media feeds: If you’re seeing a lot of ring-flashing photos, you’re on the verge of wedding season. Some you may attend, some you may be a part of — and while this season can bring so much joy, it can also bring financial stress. To put it bluntly, weddings are expensive — and not just for the bride and groom.
The average cost of attending the wedding of a distant friend or family member was $371 in 2018, according to a Bankrate study. If it’s a close friend, that number jumps to $627. And if you're in the wedding party, expect to spend upwards of $700.
Of course, you want to be able to support your loved ones on their special day. The trick is to start saving now. Planning ahead for the cost can alleviate financial stress and allow you to focus on the important things, like writing a hilarious toast. Here’s how.
This part won’t be fun, but it’s time to face the facts. Make a list of all the weddings and wedding-related activities you’ve been invited to — and then start crossing off the ones you know aren’t within your budget.
The destination wedding of an old coworker may have to go, but rather than dwell on what you can’t participate in, think about what you will be able to do instead, like join your best friend’s bachelorette weekend in Miami.
Don’t feel uncomfortable bowing out of events – just do it ASAP, since waiting months to make a final decision will only stress you and the bride out. Send your R.S.V.P.s in early to make planning easier for everyone.
Do the Math
Gifts, formal wear, engagement parties, hotel rooms, Ubers — the costs can escalate quickly. Now that you know which events you’re committed to, estimate how much you expect to spend on each. Tally up the total and divide that amount by how many weeks or months you have until the festivities begin to see how much you need to put away.
The more time you have to save, the smaller your savings installments will be. And if you really want to be ambitious, add a little cushion to your savings goal. At the end of it all, you may just find yourself with some extra to spend on yourself.
Once you've committed to events, there’s no going back, so start your shopping early to take advantage of sales. The happy couple may want a blender, but they don’t care if you got it for 25% off on Presidents' Day.
Rush alterations on dresses and last-minute travel bookings can cost you more, so don’t let those expenses sneak up on you. Settle all of your arrangements in advance so you’re getting the best price.
Chances are, you’re not the only guest who’s looking to save a little money. Reach out to others to team up. Maybe you can share a hotel room or split a special gift. Worried about wearing the same formal dress to every wedding? Swap dresses with one of your girlfriends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when planning a bridal shower or stag party. A little cooperation can go a long way.