There’s no two ways about it: Attending a wedding can be expensive! According to a recent study by The Knot, the average wedding guest spends more than $800, and the figure is even higher for bridesmaids and groomsmen.
We’re all for supporting friends and family on their big day without harming our own financial health—so we gathered our 8 best tips for how to save money as a wedding guest. By using a few of these strategies, you can toast to the happy couple and still make progress toward your financial goals, whether that’s saving up for a house or paying down high-interest debt.
1. Look beyond the host hotel. Even if there’s a discounted rate offered at the main hotel, it might not be the best fit for your personal budget. Check around for other hotel options and consider alternative lodging, like Airbnb or VBRO. If you know other people attending the wedding, you might be able to reduce costs by splitting the rate on a hotel room or house rental.
2. Be savvy about air travel. The Penny Hoarder has a fantastic list of strategies for finding the most affordable flights, covering everything from when to book (54-57 days in advance) and when to fly (Tuesday and Wednesday are best). Bonus tip: Don’t forget about taking a train or road trip—it might end up being the more affordable transportation option.
3. Consider offering your talents or presenting a handmade item. There’s no need to limit yourself to the registry. Maybe you have a knack for calligraphy or moonlight as a pastry chef—and the happy couple might be thrilled to receive your talents as a gift. A handmade gift can also help save money. Try a thoughtful photo album or something from POPSUGAR’s collection of DIY home gifts, like a customized coffee table tray. A heartfelt letter can also be a memorable gift.
4. If you are sticking to the registry, buy early. Jump on the registry website ASAP to grab budget-friendly items before they sell out. If the only options left are big-ticket items, consider pooling funds with friends and splitting the cost. Whatever you choose, be sure to search if the same item is available elsewhere at a better price. Bonus tip: Register on the vendor’s website—oftentimes, the first email will come with a promotional discount code.
5. Shop end-of-season sales. If you know your best friend is planning a winter wonderland wedding for next January, save money by shopping for your attire during this year’s end-of-season sales.
6. Try renting your outfit. Just like men can rent tuxedoes, ladies can rent dresses. Instead of shelling out several hundred dollars for a black-tie gown, check out Rent the Runway where designer dressers are available to rent for less than $50. Other options include Le Tote and Vow to be Chic.
7. Pass on the extra activities. Trim your budget by skipping the night-before dinner and day-after brunch. Most couples will understand if you politely decline to attend these additional gatherings.
8. Say “no” altogether if you need to. If it would simply be too expensive, you can choose to decline the invitation altogether. Keep this in mind especially when you’re considering weddings of a distant relatives or casual acquaintances.
RISE offers online loans that can help you manage the financial burden of attending the wedding of a family member or dear friend. Take advantage of our flexible terms and access to free financial wellness tools. Apply safely and confidently online today and you could receive $500 to $5,000 in your checking account as soon as tomorrow.