How to Save Money on a Wedding – When You’re a Wedding Guest

Today we have a fellow blogger/guest poster, Kali!



About the Author: Kali blogs about common-sense financial advice at Common Sense Millennial. She’s passionate about personal finance and finding new ways to live well on less. Currently, she is pursuing the ultimate dream of writing for a living and moving abroad. You can connect with her by tweeting @CSMillennial.


What’s not to love about a wedding? Two people who are in love and devoted to each other are beginning a new life together. Friends and family will be share in the special moment as they witness the union and help the happy couple celebrate. It’s an excuse to dress up and have fun, and of course, there’s all the dancing, drinks, food and (best of all) cake.

Of course, if you’re someone who has been invited to seven weddings this summer, you may not be feeling so excited. In fact, you may be feeling downright hateful at this point. After all, all that fun and excitement does not come cheap.

wedding guests
Photography by Vail Greg

While the bride and groom may be responsible for the majority of the cost, wedding guests have their own expenses to worry about. There may be multiple gifts to purchase, a new outfit to buy, or travel costs to consider. But before you start declining to attend any weddings, here are a few ways you save on a wedding when you’re the guest:

Pool Your Resources

Are members of your family also invited? Are you going with a group of friends? If so, consider pooling your resources and splitting costs. You can travel to the wedding together and share hotel rooms, and then split the costs of transportation and accommodations. Additionally, instead of everyone buying a small item off a registry as a wedding gift, consider asking everyone in your group to put in a bit of money and then buying one very large gift from all of you.

Plan Ahead

If you know a destination wedding is in your future, get ahead of the curve by making your arrangements as soon as possible. Don't wait for the last minute to book a plane ticket; purchase about six to eight weeks beforehand for domestic flights, and about twelve weeks ahead for international trips. Check several different sites and compare results to ensure the best price. And although the wedding date won't be flexible, you can try to be with your arrival and departure days and times. If you're open to several possibilities for when you'll come and go, it'll be easier to choose to cheapest flight. Remember to pack smart and take only a carry-on bag if possible to avoid extra fees, and bring a book and some snacks in case you have a delayed flight so you won't be bored with nothing but pricey airport food to eat.

Use Your Talents

Do you have a good or service you could offer to the bride and groom for them to use on their wedding day? Offer to provide this as a wedding gift. You could offer to help with floral arrangements, handle the music, or even bake the cake (or otherwise help out with the main meal).

Or Just Be Quick

If you can't offer a service to the couple getting married, then be prepared to purchase a gift as soon as they establish a registry. Being one of the first guests to shop for a gift means you'll have a much wider selection to choose from, and it's more likely you'll be able to find and buy a gift in a price range you're comfortable with.

Borrow or Buy Used

Weddings are often formal affairs, but not many of us have closets full of fancy dresses or suits. You could always wear your go-to dressy outfit to every wedding you attend.. but it's understandable if you don't want to show up in everyone's wedding pictures looking like all those events happened at the same time and place. Instead, turn to your friends. Ask to borrow an appropriate outfit for the occasion, and be sure to clean any clothing you borrowed and return it in the same condition it was in when your friend lent it to you.

Alternatively, hit up consignment stores to search for gently worn dresses or a nice pair of slacks. You'll save money by not buying brand new - but no one will know you didn't just pick up your wedding outfit from the store.

Being a wedding guest doesn't have to bust your budget. You can attend and be a gracious guest, complete with gifts and appropriate attire, without emptying your bank account if you're willing to plan ahead, get creative with gift ideas, and be willing to look in multiple places for a cost-effective clothing solution.

The bride and groom want to make you a part of their big day, and that means a lot. Saving on your expenses as a guest will help ensure you can RSVP for all the big days ahead!


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15 thoughts on “How to Save Money on a Wedding – When You’re a Wedding Guest

  1. Alas weddings have become enormously expensive affairs and the invites keep on coming! I tend to concur with your poignant points, especially on planning ahead and using ones talents. I know of a friend who volunteers to DJ at most weddings shes invited to and she rocks it to the amusement of all guests.
    Oh, one more to add to your list...Just offer a polite, contrite "No" to the wedding invitation. Problem solved, money saved!

  2. These are great tips. I remember the recent (the first, actually) wedding in my brood in July of this year. We did our best not to spend too much and we somehow succeeded but not 100%. Still, it was a good try. Now my daughter is "infanticipating" - 6 weeks to be exact. I am an excited grandmother!

    1. No matter how frugal we are in every other aspect of our lives, weddings seem to get us to spend more than we'd like no matter what! I know that's been my experience - but like you, I usually succeed just not quite 100% 🙂 Congratulations on the wedding in July AND a new baby soon! Very exciting times in the Frugal Rules family!

  3. I honestly prefer more low-key weddings. Outdoor venues and keg beer is fine for me! Thankfully most of my friends agree, but I have also attended some v-e-r-y expensive weddings. When my day comes I don't want my guests having to spend a fortune!

  4. At my friend's wedding recently that was 4 1/2 hours away, we shared a room with another couple. It can get a bit cluttered with four people's stuff in one room, but getting two queens is about the same as 1 king, so it ended up saving us 50%!

  5. Thankfully we've been able to drive to all of our recent weddings which has saved us on flight expenses. I just booked a trip and the bag fee on US Airways is $25 ugg. I'm going to try to get away with packing only a carryon, but I'm sort of a heavy packer, so I don't think that will happen.

    1. I used to be an extreme over-packer, but my hatred of paying more than I absolutely have to eventually won out over my tendency to try and pack the whole house! Packing cubes or those vacuum sealed bags make it easier to get more stuff in a smaller bag, so that may help you get away with just a carry on with your next trip.

  6. In 2012 we were invited to 6 weddings! It seemed that everyone we knew that was single decided to get married last year. One of them was a destination wedding that cost us a pretty penny and we just could not decline because it was for my brother-in-law. I'm glad we got a break this year.

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