How To Save Money As A Wedding Guest

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Snowflake Save the Date Coasters

OK, you’ve saved the date. Now, the more important thing to save: your money.

(Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 9, 2014.)

Between April and October of this year, my wife will attend eight weddings. Eight. Like five more than three. While I am very excited to see many close friends and family “take the plunge,” all these weddings come at a steep price tag—and not just for the people throwing the party.


Between bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers, stag parties (for all you Western MA peeps) and the actual wedding, costs start to add up rather quickly. So, what can you do to help minimize costs as a proud, yet frugal, friend?

Consider the following.

Plan Ahead

My wife and I knew 2014 would be a big wedding year, so we planned appropriately. We started saving money in a separate “wedding” bank account, booked hotels and flights early, found “roommates” for the night, and tried to plan vacations to coincide with any wedding travel we were already doing.

In addition, with smart planning, you can split as many costs as possible. Don’t save this approach for “big cost” items only, like a group wedding gift. Even things that might seem small, like carpooling to and from the ceremony and reception, can help you save on costs you’re probably not thinking about, like gas. (And the environment will thank you, too.)

Speaking of splitting costs…

Be SMART About Accommodations

Two summers ago, my wife’s friend got married in Cape Cod during the summer. For those of you unfamiliar with the Cape area, it’s pretty pricey that time of the year. Not to mention, most hotels have a 2-night minimum stay.

Our solution? Rent a house. Along with six other people, we rented a house with four bedrooms and stayed an extra night for significantly less money than our 2 nights in a hotel would have cost. Not to mention, we had a house, so that was fun. Check out services like Airbnb to find a house (or even just a room) by the reception. That cost plus a cab ride may still be cheaper than the “special” room block rate.

Don’t want to stay longer than needed or definitely want to stay at the hotel? Find a couple friends and split the cost of a hotel room. It’s only one night. Plus, we’re still young enough for sleepovers to be fun.

Tap Into Your Creative Side

Another way to cut costs is being creative with your wedding gifts. Perhaps you are a great artist (like this)? Maybe you have a knack for photography? In lieu of money or a gift from the registry, giving the soon to be couple a gift you created could be both memorable and cost effective. At our wedding, my wife’s cousin used her talent to create our guest book, which came out phenomenal.

Of course, this will not apply in every situation. Some people really want what they ask for, so venturing too far “off script” for these individuals might not be the best idea. Furthermore, some of us are not as artistically gifted as others. If this is you, don’t force it. Stick to the registry, Picasso.

How do you save money when attending weddings? Share your tips in the comments. 

(Photo: Sarah Parrott)

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  1. Aaron Weber April 28, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    There’s so much obligation and duty surrounding weddings and it means the price starts to creep up and before you know it it’s out of control.
    My tips:

    1) There’s a “decline” box on that invitation for a reason. If you don’t want to go to a wedding, don’t go. You’ll be saving your friends money by not showing up, too, since they won’t have to feed you. If the wedding is somewhere you’d have to travel, that’s a perfect built in excuse.

    2) Send a thoughtful note – a handwritten note on actual paper means more in the age of text-messages. It makes even a small gift from a registry seem much more personal. Even the fanciest card costs less than the chintziest gift.

    3) If your friends didn’t register for anything you can afford to buy them, make a small donation to a charity in their name instead.

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