When a friend or family member announces they’re engaged to be married, that feeling of joy can quickly turn to panic, particularly if theirs is not the only wedding on the horizon.
It’s easy to see why when Australian wedding guests admit to shelling out $1,279 on average, with flights and accommodation often the biggest outgoings, followed by things such as gifts, clothing, babysitters and taxis1.
If it’s been weighing on your mind—especially if an engagement party, bridal shower, buck’s or hen’s night are likely to be in the pipeline as well—our tips on how to minimise costs could help.
Money hacks for the popular wedding guest
When there’s a string of events
- If you’ve got more than one wedding coming up, various celebrations may clash and you simply mightn’t have the money to go to everything. With that in mind, consider what’s taking place and when, and how close you are to the hosts—attendance mightn’t be mandatory.
- If it’s a matter of cash and there are several celebratory events taking place ahead of the big day, depending on your relationship with the couple, think about skipping the festivities and just attending the wedding, or vice versa. Just remember, it’s important to RSVP on time and if you don’t attend the wedding a card or small gift can still go a long way.
When the event is out of town
- If it’s a destination wedding or prior celebrations are being held far away, consider if you have friends or family in the area that you can stay with to save on accommodation costs and whether you can leave the kids at home.
- If you do need to book a room, check out hotel price comparison sites like Trivago. Opting for a self-contained apartment over a standard hotel may also mean you spend less on eating out, as you’ll typically have access to kitchen appliances.
- If there’s a group of you going, see if you can get a discount by booking multiple rooms, or get a larger place to share if it means you’ll pay a cheaper price per head. You might also make a further saving by booking someone’s residential property on Airbnb.
- If flights are involved, book early and see if you can benefit from online specials. You can also compare prices on sites like Webjet and use frequent flyer points you’ve accumulated.
- If you’re going to be there for a few days, or are making a bit of a holiday out of it, consider hiring a car if it’s going to reduce what you spend on cabs or Uber rides.
When you want to look the part
- You may not need a new outfit as well as new shoes, a spray tan, manicure, pedicure, up-style and your makeup done by a professional. Opt for one, not all.
- If you do want to wear something no one has seen you in before, raid your mate’s closet or go online where you can hire designer label dresses and suits for a fraction of the cost.
- Turn to accessories—a statement piece of jewellery or fashionable tie always has the potential to make the old look new again.
- Ring in a favour and ask a friend who’s good with hair and makeup to add some braids to your side bun or extensions to your lashes. Alternatively, if you must have a professional do it, find an artist that will give you the products they’ve used as part of the cost.
When gift registries and wishing wells are involved
- If the couple has a gift registry, get in early so you have more options around what you’re able to choose and at what price.
- If you’re wanting to stray from the registry—which may not go down well—a gift card from the same department store the registry’s linked to or an experience you know the couple will like will probably be better than something they don’t want or that you’ve secretly re-gifted.
- When it comes to wishing wells, guests give nearly $190 on average when it comes to close friends and family, and about $100 on average for everyone else2. If that sounds like more than you can afford, go in with a group of people. And, if you’re flat broke, it’s the thought that counts—a hand-made card with a heartfelt message is better than nothing.
When you need a vehicle to get you there
- If public transport isn’t an option, see if you can share a taxi or Uber with other friends who are attending.
- If you’re happy to pay one way and can drive yourself to the venue, check out pickup services that get you and your car home safely. Most providers dispatch two drivers—one to pick you up, the other to pick up your driver. Scooter Angels is one that works across four cities.
What to keep in mind
Sharing such a momentous occasion with friends or family is something you’ll never forget, but the budget blowout as a popular guest can be long term if you’re not sensible about planning.
Remember to budget for what’s most important and don’t forget to be grateful your company has been requested on someone’s big day.
For more tips, check out our articles:
Whether it’s the war on waste, human rights abuses, animal rights or climate change that is your issue of choice (or perhaps you’re concerned about all of them), more of us are taking an interest in making decisions with our money that reflect our values.