THE COST TO HAVE a wedding is undeniably expensive. But what about being a guest? According to a new survey by American Express, invitees expect to pay on average US $673 just to attend a wedding this year. The survey spoke to 1,800 adults in the U.S. They said they’re spending money on airfare, clothing, meals, and the gift for the happy couple.
So how many weddings have you replied “Yes” to this summer? Have you budgeted for each one properly? Here’s what you should be doing.
Be Realistic | The reality is if you can’t afford to go, you can’t afford to go. Especially if the wedding is out of town; the cost of a hotel stay and the extra meals and entertainment will add up quickly. The best thing to do in this situation is to send a small gift to the happy couple and wish them well. This will cost you less than attending. As well, if you have been invited by a distant family member or a friend you haven’t seen in a while, be sure you want to attend. Only attend when you truly care about the people getting married. Never go simply out of obligation.
Be Selective | One of the most alarming statistics is that the cost to attend a wedding is up a whopping 13 percent from last year. That’s almost double what it cost in 2012 when, according to survey respondents, it cost them $339 to be a guest. One of the reasons the costs are rising is that wedding events are changing. Now there are engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette or bachelor parties to attend. It’s no longer just the wedding ceremony and reception. I suggest you choose one significant event to go to—most likely the ceremony.
Be Resourceful | If you can avoid it, don’t fly. Airfare made up the majority of expenses according to the survey, almost 30 percent of the cost. So if the wedding is 500 kilometres away, drive there, it will save you money. But if you do opt to fly, book your airfare ahead of time and use a discount website. Rather than staying in a hotel, see if another family or group of friends wants to rent a house together close to the event site. Visit sites like HomeAway (homeaway.ca) and VRBO (vrbo.com), which is affiliated with HomeAway. Per person, the cost can be lower than a hotel room.
Be Honourable | One place not to cut back is the gift for the happy couple. The survey showed the costs to attend a wedding were up in all categories, expect for the wedding gift. Attendees said they planned to spend $3 less this year compared to last. Some feel the expense they occur attending a wedding justifies no gift. I’m no manners expert but I appreciate value for every dollar I spend, and investing in a gift for the wedding couple is money well spent.
THE WARDROBE DILEMMA
I attended three weddings one year, all in the same family. I had a new outfit for each occasion because many of the same people would be at all three weddings. If this is your dilemma, try to borrow a few formal dresses from friends who wear the same size you do. The only cost will be the dry cleaning before you give it back. You can also rent a formal dress for the fraction of what it would cost to buy it. Find a reputable dress rental place in your area. These two websites will give you a sense of what’s available and the pricing.
As finance editor for HOMES Publishing Group, Rubina Ahmed-Haq also shares her expertise in our sister publication Condo Life. In addition, she is the finance expert on CBC’s The Steven and Chris Show, a regular contributor on CBC Radio, blogger at RateSupermarket.ca and has her own website alwayssavemoney.ca