After so many couples had to postpone their weddings in 2020, 2021 is turning into a packed wedding season. For many people, that means a calendar full of memorable weekends – if you can actually afford to attend them.
Here are some handy ways to stretch your budget so you don't have to miss a single high-end buffet, open bar, or crowded dance floor.
Use credit card points
If you have credit card points, you can redeem them for flights, hotel stays and rental cars. Play around with the redemption numbers when you have multiple cards with significant total points.
You don't have a bonus card? It can't be too late to start earning a free ride. Chase is currently offering a 60,000 point sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and a 100,000 point sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Both offers are sufficient for a domestic return flight and a couple of nights in a hotel. Pro Tip: Compare reward cards and check the recommended credit score to make sure you're approved before applying.
You can also redeem miles and points for gift cards at retailers such as Target and Macy’s – perfect if you buy a gift outside of registration. Also, look out for coupons and discounts before making a purchase.
Get involved in the planning
When your best friend is getting married and you're at the wedding reception, encourage them to make budget-friendly decisions so you – and your other friends – can save some money.
For example, ask her to combine the bridal shower and bachelorette party so that it is on the same weekend. This will minimize travel expenses and you won't feel pressured to buy two great gifts.
If your friend is planning a bachelorette party trip, help them find a cheap Airbnb or hotel package. Check out flights for different weekends to find the cheapest option.
Skip the hotel
If you're traveling to a wedding, stag or hen party, staying in a house or apartment can save you hundreds compared to staying at a hotel – especially if you can share a large house with several friends. When you learn that you've been invited to an out-of-town wedding, coordinate with other guests to see if you can share a rental home.
If you can get a house or apartment with a decent kitchen, you can have breakfast there and bring your own drinks and snacks. Some hotels charge additional fees for Wi-Fi and parking, but if you're staying on an AirBnB these costs are included in the price.
Minimize other expenses
Every time I'm invited to a wedding, I'm tempted to buy a whole new outfit to prepare for the onslaught of pictures. But if you are on a budget, skip the shopping spree. If you really need a new dress or new shoes, go to a consignment store or ask a friend.
When you're really struggling, don't feel pressured to spend as much on a gift as you normally would. Alternatively, share a more expensive gift with more than one person so it still feels like you're contributing something meaningful.
Create a budget
Before returning the RSVP card, go over your finances to make sure you can afford it. See how much you currently have in your savings account without your emergency fund. Do you have a vacation fund to spend on a honeymoon? Could you divert some freely disposable money for a bachelorette party?
Then enter the numbers into the travel budget calculator to see how much it costs to attend the wedding. Add up the hotel, ridesharing, meals, and the cost of catering for your pets. If the total exceeds your available amount, you may have to decline the invitation.
If you are invited to multiple weddings, you may have to decline an invitation at some point. Or you have to decide whether to attend a wedding or go to the bachelorette party.
When you have to decide, ask the bride or groom what they prefer. Don't assume that they'd rather have you come to the wedding, especially if the stag or hen party is a better way to hang out with them.
I knew a bride whose friends couldn't afford to fly in for both bachelorette parties and weddings. She told them to come to the bachelorette party where she would have more one-on-one conversations with them compared to the wedding when there would be little time for faces.
If at some point you have lost your job or for other reasons you don't have the money to travel, don't feel pressured to attend. Call your friend and explain the situation. A true friend will understand when you can't afford to leave.
Before the wedding, send out a heartfelt card expressing how much you are looking forward to it and how sad you are not to be there in person. Before or after the wedding, you can schedule another special day to celebrate, a girls day to get your nails done, dinner with the couple, a fun hike, or something you know they'll enjoy makes.
Whatever you do, don't lie and say you can't leave because of vacation or a work dispute. Some people might interpret this to mean that you don't care enough about participating. If you are honest about your financial situation, they can understand why you cannot leave.
Start a sinking fund
If you have a while on your schedule to save before the next wedding, put a sinking fund on. A sinking fund is a special savings account devoted to a short-term goal, like your best friend's wedding.
I like to create a separate savings account for each sinking fund so I can easily keep track of how much I've saved for my goal. You can easily set a goal in the Mint app.
Once you figure out how much it will cost to attend the wedding, divide that amount by the remaining months. Then create automatic transfers for that amount from your checking account to your declining fund.
Before setting up the transfers, make sure you can afford to save that much each month. You may need to limit or turn to more creative solutions in other areas, such as: B. find a sideline or sell things in the house.
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Zina Kumok (133 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she paid off student loans worth $ 28,000 in three years at Conscious Coins