“Weddings are not fundraisers, invitations are not invoices.” –Jodi R.R. Smith, founder of etiquette consulting firm, Mannersmith.
I LOVE weddings- eating, drinking, and dancing in the company of your best friends and family, what’s not to love? THE COST.
Wedding “culture” has evolved to include unprecedented spending expectations. Showers and engagement parties have turned into mini weddings. Bachelorette parties have become multi-day destination events. And weddings themselves are more expensive than ever.
I’m all for celebrating, but the mere cost of participation has completely surpassed what I can afford.
Tips for Brides/Grooms/ Bridesmaids/ Anyone Involved In Planning Wedding or Pre-Wedding Celebrations.
Keep it in Perspective. If you’re going to have multiple events- engagement party, shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding, post wedding party, etc- think in terms of the total cost of attending each of those events and see where you may be able to keep it casual. (I went to a casual backyard bbq style shower earlier this year and it was lovely). A bunch of 20 somethings struggling to pay rent don’t need to be faced with the pressure of shelling out serious cash for three extravagant parties ON TOP of the wedding.
Don’t be offended. If you really want to have a lavish, destination wedding event or celebration go for it, it’s your celebration. Just don’t be offended when people decline. I may love you, but not more than I love food and having a roof over my head.
Tips for Guests.
Assess and Prioritize. Before RSVPing to any wedding event be sure to breakdown all the costs of attendance/ participation to see how/ if you can budget. This may mean calling up the hotel for room prices and calculating travel costs, it might mean reaching out to the maid of honor and asking for a breakdown of projected bachelorette party costs, it may mean opting out or searching for a cheaper alternative (choosing a different hotel, bunking up with friends, not staying overnight, etc).
Don’t be afraid to say no. I want to celebrate every moment of “wedding mania” with my girlfriends- partly because it’s a blast and partly because I love them and I want to celebrate and support them. But when the financial strain is too much, it’s time to say no.
Don’t Overspend. Once you’ve committed to participating, make sure you stay within your budget. For example, if you’re headed out on the town for the bachelorette party, withdraw your spending limit in cash so you’re not tempted to buy more (especially once the booze starts flowing).
Don’t Overgift. If you’ve already paid for transit and a hotel room to attend a wedding, your wedding budget may be pretty depleted already. (I know mine would be). The price of your gift should be determined not by the price of your plate , as is the common advice, but by your budget and your relationship to the couple. If you’ve already blown your load on other wedding expenses you may need to get creative here. But better to be thoughtful and less expensive- than to part with cold hard cash that will put you in financial trouble.
At the end of the day, it’s a celebration, and there’s nothing to damper a good celebration quite like walking around with a heavy load of financial anxiety. So be sensible and enjoy!