How to Budget for Wedding Season

Before the costs for weddings start to add up, try these tips to save some cash.

It’s exciting to be invited to a wedding. And another. And another.

The average cost of attending a wedding as a guest can range from about $370 to $620, according to a 2018 Bankrate Survey. And, if you’re a member of the wedding party, you could spend an average of $728.

If you’re attending multiple weddings each year, those costs add up. Here are three ways to plan ahead and make wedding season more affordable.

1. Set up a budget

Once a wedding is on your radar, break down each event you’re expected to attend. In some cases, it may be just the wedding. In others, you may be invited to a bridal shower, bachelor party, or other events that could add to the total cost. Note the expected cost of each event, then start setting aside money each month. If you start this right away, for instance, when the couple announces their engagement or when you receive a Save the Date, you’ll be prepared for the upcoming costs.

Even with money saved, it’s also important to know where and when to scale back. For example, avoid purchasing a new outfit for every wedding. Re-wear favorite items, trade outfits with friends, or even rent a formal dress or tux for the occasion.

Travel can often be the most expensive part of attending a wedding. If you plan well in advance and scope out flight deals, you can save a significant amount of money. Search for deals by setting up an alert for your preferred airlines (especially if you accrue points) and your destination. Also consider lower cost carriers, but be mindful of any add-on fees.

Affordable lodging is also a priority if you are traveling for a wedding. If the couple is expecting out of town guests, they may have made reservations at a local hotel, and better yet, may have secured a discounted rate.

It’s also worth considering nearby options that may be cheaper (though perhaps not as nice) than the listed hotel. You may also find a deal by bundling your flight and hotel. If you have friends or family in the area, ask if they might host you for a few nights.

If you have a credit card that lets you earn points or you are a rewards member for any airline or hotel brand, apply points to your ticket or hotel purchase.

2. Share costs

The costs of multiple gifts for multiple weddings add up quickly. When you factor in the wedding shower(s) and bachelor/bachelorette presents, the gifts alone can crush a budget. One way to make wedding gifts more affordable is to purchase a bigger-ticket item with a group of friends or family who are also attending the wedding. You can determine a set amount, split the cost, and maybe spend a little less than you would if you purchased an item on your own.

Sharing costs can also be a good way to handle travel expenses. If the venue is within driving distance, consider a road trip with friends. You can also split a hotel room to lower the costs, or even consider renting through Airbnb or VRBO.

3. RSVP wisely

It’s OK to skip a wedding if you need to. Think about what you can honestly afford and prioritize the events you need to attend. If a second cousin invites you to a destination wedding and the plane tickets are out of your budget, you have the option to politely decline. In lieu of your attendance, consider spending a little more on a wedding gift.

It is an honor to witness a friend or family member start a new chapter in life. With careful planning, you can easily budget for multiple weddings without putting your own financial goals — such as paying down student loans or planning your own wedding — on hold.


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