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Save Money This Wedding Season

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Table of Contents  
  1. So Many Parties
  2. Clothes
  3. Destination Weddings
  4. The Gifts

Wedding season is upon us and if you’re of a certain age, the invites are coming fast and furious. Celebrate with your loved ones without going broke. Save money this wedding season.

Summer is prime wedding season. Between showers, hen and stage parties, gifts, and outfits, how can you be part of the festivities without taking out a second mortgage?

So Many Parties

There was a time when you got a wedding invitation, bought a gift and showed up to the wedding. But the wedding industrial complex has exploded. Now the wedding is simply the culmination of several events.

There might be a shower, a hen or stag party, maybe both if you’re a friend of the bride and the groom, a rehearsal dinner, a post-wedding brunch. Jeez, I don’t go to that many parties in a year, never mind within the space of a few weeks.

Unless you’re in the wedding party, I don’t think you have to attend all of these. If you want to and can afford it, by all means. But all of this can add up. I hope that most couples sending out invites to all of these things really just want to celebrate with their family and friends. But at some point you start to wonder if all of this is just a bid for all the gifts they can grub and all the attention they can be the center of.

If you’re close with one of the betrothed, be honest if you can’t afford to attend every event. They’ll understand. Ask which pre or post wedding event means the most to them and attend that one.

You likely know at least one other person who is going to one of the festivities. Team up and buy a single gift from the two of you. Or look into doing a subscription gift. You can buy a few months worth of floral arrangements or a CSA box for the couple. This can spread the payments out over a few months rather than taking one big hit.


If you’re in the wedding party, especially if you’re in the bridal party, there isn’t much you can do about this. You have to buy and wear what the bride or groom decide. The guys get off pretty lightly here. They can just rent their tux.

If you’re a woman though, you usually have to purchase the dress, the shoes, maybe even a hat (shudder) and jewelry. Hopefully it’s a dress you might be able to wear in the future but if the bride has her heart set on a Little Bo Beep theme or something, you probably can’t recycle that shepherdess get up.

You have to be honest here. It’s an honor to be asked to stand up for the bride unless you’re that distant cousin that the bride’s mother forced her to include. But if you genuinely can’t afford the outfit and the various expenses that go along with being in the bridal party, like throwing the shower and hen party, you should decline.

I can’t imagine a worse scenario, aside from being left at the alter I suppose, than having a resentful bride’s maid.

If you’re not in the party but just have a lot of weddings to attend, you don’t need a new dress for each ceremony. Even if there is a lot of overlap of guests from wedding to wedding, no one is going to notice if you wear the same dress to more than one.

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Destination Weddings

This is a great concept in theory. Jetting off to a beautiful destination to celebrate a marriage with your family and friends. A mini-vacation and a big party! In practice, it can be something else.

Aside from all the other wedding expenses you also have to factor in a flight, transportation, meals, and a hotel. Not to mention time off from work that may or may not be paid. This is another scenario where you may have to decline. Americans don’t get much, if they get any vacation, so even if you have the cash, you may not be able to take the time off.

If you’re determined to go, you might be able to team up with another guest here too. You can share ground transportation expenses and share a hotel room as well.

The Gifts

So let’s see, if you’re going all in you have to buy a shower gift, a hen or stag party gift, and a wedding gift. If any of these are held in a restaurant you’ll be expected to chip in for a meal as well. All this can add up to a big chunk of change.

And some couples don’t even give the option of a physical gift. If you’re skint you can always choose a cheaper item on the registry. But some couples are opting for straight up cash, tacky! Worse than that, they are setting up on-line cash grabs where how much you give is there for all the other hostage givers to peruse and judge.

I understand. Most people who get married aren’t going from living with mom and dad to living with their new spouse. Many couples live together before they marry. And presumably have blenders, sheets, slow cookers, towels, all the usual wedding gift things. So they don’t need that stuff.

It seems exceedingly tacky to me to ask people to give you money. If you have everything you need, why not ask guest to donate to a worthy cause you care about? Or how about the radical concept of not asking for anything at all and just being content that you’re family and friends love you enough to get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes and shoes, to eat stale cake, watch your fat old relatives fight, and suffer the indignity of the chicken dance in the name of your undying love? How about all that being more than enough?

I’m delighted when two loving people love each other enough to commit to one another and I’m honored that they want me there to witness and celebrate it. But I want to be able to do that without going into hock to do so.

Say no to the wedding industrial complex. And I’ll have a little cash left over to buy you baby shower and house warming presents!

Candice Elliott - Senior Editor
Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

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