Thursday, September 10, 2015

How To Attend Weddings Without Going Broke

As a 30-year-old female who follows a heap of lifestyle and fashion blogs, I have read countless posts on how to Have A Fabulous Wedding on a Not-So-Fabulous Budget or Saying ‘I Do’ When Your Budget Says ‘Don’t’.” I get it, I’m your target audience, minus the fact that I'm not engaged. I read those DIY guides and file them away in my mental vault for whenever I may need them (Which is not now, Mom. I promise. I'll let you know.) I am sure (hope) one day those posts will be helpful. But the post I really want to read is: How to Attend A Wedding Seven Weddings Without Breaking the Bank.

Let me start by saying that, I love going to weddings. Like, love love. When Donald Trump said that he’d paid Hillary Clinton to come to his wedding (I paraphrase) in the debate, I thought, “IS THAT A JOB I CAN HAVE?!” I choose to believe I’m a good guest too — I take pictures using the wedding hashtag; I cry when appropriate; I don’t get drunk; I dance my ass off; I mingle with the grandparents; and I high-five the flower girls. Really, I’m my best self at weddings.
My greatest flaw as a wedding guest: fear of sparklers

But weddings can be expensive to attend. If you’re between the ages of around 24-35, then you’re probably attending a ton of them. Your refrigerator is covered in adorable save-the-date photos and squares of that thick fancy paper with beautiful calligraphy. 

I thought my busy wedding seasons were behind me, but I was invited to eight weddings this year. (Kudos to me for having so many wonderful friends!) Sadly, I could only attend six due to expenses, scheduling, and such. Personally, I think the investment in getting to celebrate special moments with your favorite people in the world is priceless, but my bank account doesn’t seem to understand. BB&T always be hatin’.

After about 25+ weddings since graduation, I’ve picked up some tricks for attending your loved ones’ celebrations without over-drafting your account. Here are my (fairly obvious) tips:


You don’t have to stay at the “official wedding” hotel. Sure it’s fun to stay where everyone else is staying, but you know what else is fun? Not living in poverty. The wonderful couple searches high and low for a great room rate discount, but sometimes it's not that easy. If the “official hotel” is not in your budget, look nearby.  

You may recall my friend and I loved our Airbnb "casita" in California. And, just this past weekend, my friends and I stayed in a “motor inn.” I didn't know those were still a thing outside of 80's movies about family vacations. Sure the Pixie Motor Inn wasn’t the Ritz, but it was clean, safe, and *drumroll please* $46/night. Plus, my friends were there. What more do I need? Who am I, the queen? All I require is a bed, running water, and air conditioning (I will not compromise that luxury).  

Airbnb,, friends’ couches….you do what you gotta do to get yourself to that wedding. 


Take advantage of free transportation options. Not only are these a safe choice if you've had too much from that champagne fountain,* but did I mention they are free?

This should be a no-brainer. If there’s a shuttle, take it.** If the groom offers to have his mom’s second cousin’s best friend’s neighbor pick you up from the airport — great! In fact, those people often want to give you a ride because it's their way of helping out. Sure it could be an awkward trip up the interstate, but is it any more awkward than a chatty cab driver? And you pay that person for uncomfortable small talk. 

My favorite transportation option is when the wedding is in your home state. Fly into your hometown and borrow a parent’s car to drive the extra 1-3 hours versus paying for expensive flights to small-town suburbs. I employ this method a lot. (Thanks, Mom and Dad. Sorry I changed all your radio presets.)

Oh, and don't buy airport snacks. Seriously, I should add a line item to my budget for the amount I've spent on food trying to get to my final destination. You don't need those $8 gummy bears. They taste the same as $2 gummy bears. Step away from the gummy bears. This is general travel advice. You're welcome.

* Don't be the person who gets stupid drunk at a wedding. You enjoy yourself but remember, these are the big leagues. You aren't 22. 
** If you took my advice about accommodations and are at a different hotel, then stay at a place within walking distance or a short car ride away so that you can still get to said shuttle. You and some friends sharing a cab or an Uber is less than the hotel price difference, most likely.


Ladies, wear the same dress to multiple weddings. This seems like it should be obvious but I am going to repeat it —you can wear the same dress to multiple weddings. The world will not end if you are photographed wearing the same dress at two different weddings.  Let's just all agree that this is a thing that is acceptable and move on. 

However, when you can’t bear the thought of wearing the same dress again: borrow or rent. Girl, we’ve all been there. For my most recent wedding, I needed something new. All my dresses had been worn multiple times. They were too summer-y or too winter-y or too worn and damaged from weddings past in which I'd "gotten a little bit softer now" just one too many times. I opted for Rent the Runway and rented one of their lower-end dresses. It was perfect and convenient. Last summer, I borrowed a dress from a friend and wore it to two consecutive weddings. The pictures are fine. No one judged (at least not to my face). The couples are still married. All was well.

Men, just wear a suit. I don't know anything about men's clothes so you're on your own. 


For meals not covered by wedding festivities, do your research ahead of time. 

That way, when you and your friends are trying to think of a place to grab lunch the day of the wedding, you can be all, "I heard this place has the most amazing food truck around the corner. It's where all the locals go." Not only do you guys get cheap tacos but all your friends now think you're some cool jet setter who knows all the best spots. Everyone wins!


Don’t skimp on the gift. I guess this isn’t a tip for saving money but, the reality is, you need to buy a gift. Don’t be the person who tries to save money by not buying a gift.* 

If only really expensive gifts are left on the registry, then buy them something non-controversial elsewhere. (If you aren’t sure what a non-controversial gift is, then definitely stick to the registry.) Also, if you have the option of a registry gift or a donation to a honeymoon fund, then stick with the former. The latter will make you highly conscious of how much you’re spending and you’ll feel the need to give at the same level of your more wealthy friends. "Sorry I can't buy you both spa treatments, but here is some money to rent extra towels at the cabana."

*Sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of which couples I've purchased a gift for and who is still on my list. Probably because I don't actually keep a list. I should. All that to say, if I neglected to get you a gift, I'm sorry. 

That's it. Simple, right? I just saved you at least $37, plus got you cheap tacos. 

See you on the dance floor. 

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