How Guests Can Stay on Budget During Peak Wedding Season

(NerdWallet) – It’s been a banner year for weddings, with Wedding Report industry experts predicting that more than 2.5 million couples will wed – a 40-year high. But you may find that your finances aren’t quite ready for the costs associated with being invited to a wedding.

Half (50%) of Americans say they plan to attend a wedding in 2022 – but less than a third (31%) have budgeted attendance, according to a new survey.

“I think guests are going to start looking at all the things they’ve never really looked at before and figuring out, ‘Am I really worth attending this event?'” Sheavonne says. Harris, a New York-based wedding planner. In some cases, they may just decide to send a nice gift while they’re away, she says.

Before confirming your attendance, weigh the important factors — from airfare to your relationship with the couple — and consider these ideas for tailoring attendance to your budget.

Remember to save on travel costs

Among the top factors Americans consider before attending a wedding are distance from home (47%) and cost of travel and accommodation (43%), according to a NerdWallet survey of over 2,000 people conducted online by The Harris Poll.

Airfare or driving costs plus accommodation may add up. Using the miles or points you’ve earned can help reduce travel costs.

Getting around town once you arrive is another cost. “Every wedding costs a few hundred dollars to rent a car when you’re there for a weekend,” says Elliott Appel, a certified financial planner in Madison, Wisconsin. Consider splitting car rental or carpooling costs with other customers to save money.

Most couples still offer blocks of hotel rooms at a discount to their guests, Harris says. Make sure you don’t miss the deadline to grab this offer. You can also consider sharing a room or sharing a vacation rental with other travelers.

Appel also suggests that the trip is double duty if you have family or friends nearby that you plan to visit this year.

Set reasonable spending limits for gifts and outfits

Getting to the wedding is only part of the cost. You also want to bring a gift and look presentable. After more than two years of pandemic life, the formal clothes hanging in your closet might not fit the way they once did. The cost of clothing was an important factor for 30% of Americans, according to the survey.

“If you can duplicate outfits instead of creating multiple different outfits for each wedding, I still recommend that,” Appel says. Clothing rental services like Rent the Runway or Nuuly help you cut costs while still feeling special.

More than a quarter (28%) of Americans surveyed said the amount they thought they should spend on gifts was a big factor in their decision. Don’t let the expectations of spending outrageously on gifts hold you back.

“Just because we know the person well doesn’t mean you have to spend a significant amount of money on a gift,” Appel says. He suggests a gift with personal meaning behind it, something “that perhaps reflects a shared experience or memory.” A group gift is another way to give away a more expensive item without blowing your budget.

Strategically stretch the budget

Half (51%) of Americans said their closeness to the couple was an important consideration, according to the survey. You’re likely to do whatever you can to share a close friend or family member’s special day, even if it’s beyond your budget.

Appel does not advocate going into debt for a wedding. But, he says, “I also don’t want people to miss out on these memorable experiences.” He suggests trying to reduce expenses or temporarily increase income to cover additional costs.

If these strategies aren’t enough, you might consider putting your wedding guest expenses on a credit card. More than 2 in 5 (43%) Americans surveyed say they usually use a credit card to pay for expenses associated with attending a wedding.

However, make sure you have a plan to pay off that debt – debt avalanche or snowball methods are popular. And use credit cards strategically. Shifting charges to a card with a low or 0% APR for balance transfers gives more time to pay without generating a lot of interest.

If you have time, save before you go

About 4 in 10 (39%) Americans surveyed say they’ve skipped or considered skipping a marriage because they couldn’t afford it. If you know there are weddings in your future, start planning now.

Work guest expenses into your budget with a sinking fund — a dedicated savings account for a planned expense. Constantly recording small chunks over time is more manageable.

Additionally, cutting costs in your budget not only helps you afford to attend a wedding, but also helps keep up with rising inflation in general. Consider buying private labels, renegotiating bills, canceling subscriptions and cutting discretionary spending.

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