We all know that weddings can be expensive. In fact, the average wedding cost more than $31,000 in 2016.1 But the happy couples aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. A recent study showed that the average wedding guest in 2016 spent $888 per wedding.2

Being a wedding guest can really do a number on your budget. However, it’s possible to join the fun without breaking the bank. Here are five ways to celebrate the smart way.

1. Don’t procrastinate travel plans.

Last-minute booking is a surefire way to break the bank. Wait to make plans, and you may find that you don’t have time to shop, the wedding-rate discount at the hotel has expired, and airfare is increasing every day. Give yourself ample time to book airfare and lodging, and shop around to help make sure you’re getting the best prices. Budget travel sites can help you compare rates.

2. Make your credit card work for you.

Many credit cards offer perks. If you’ve got several weddings in your future, consider a credit card that lets you redeem points for airfare or related travel costs. Similarly, make sure you’ve signed up for airline rewards programs to start building up points for weddings further down the road. Be careful not to rack up too much debt on your card, however. You don’t want to end up getting dinged by high interest rates.

3. Consider alternate accommodations.

Think beyond the hotel. Look for nearby vacation rentals to share with a group of other budget-conscious wedding attendees. The cost to split a vacation rental among a larger group is often cheaper than each person getting their own hotel room. Plus, you’ll have access to a kitchen and can save on meals by dining in. This is a great way to have some fun with friends and family while you’re at it! Another option is to look online for people who are renting out their homes or apartments for short-term stays. These are also often less expensive than a hotel.

4. Make it a vacation!

Maybe Ohio wasn’t on your list of top travel destinations this year, but if you’re flying there to attend a wedding, consider extending your trip by a few days to explore the area. Rather than staying just for the weekend to attend the wedding, roll your summer vacation into the trip to consolidate travel expenses and explore new places.

5. Just say no.

If attending a wedding just isn’t within your budget — especially if it’s out-of-state or a destination wedding — it’s okay to decline the invitation. The couple will understand. And since they’re likely paying per head for food and beverage, you’re probably saving them some money, too! Consider simply sending a gift, card or other message to let them know you’re thinking of them on their big day.

Weddings are wonderful, yet undeniably expensive, celebrations. While it’s worth splurging here and there to partake in the festivities, attending weddings doesn’t need to derail your entire budget. With some planning and creative thinking, you can still toast the couple with your wallet intact.

 

1 Jacobson, I. Average Wedding Cost Hits National All-Time High. The Knot. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from https://www.theknot.com/content/average-wedding-cost
2 Bahney, A. (June 26, 2017). Here’s how much it costs to be a wedding guest. CNN Money. Retrieved July 17 from http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/23/pf/wedding-guest/index.html
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