We all love a wedding: the build-up, excitement, positive energy, the dancing… however there’s always a ‘but’ – as in ‘but what about the expense?’
It’s one of life’s sweet ironies – the happy couple’s big day doesn’t come cheap, especially when you’ve factored in your outfit, travel expenses, accommodation and gift, chances are it’s costing megabucks to watch them tie the knot.
“Attending a wedding isn’t always cheap, but the memories make it worth it,” says Rajan Lakhani, resident money expert at smart money app Plum.
“That said, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself,” reassures Lakhani. “It’s always good to focus on what’s really important, which is being there to celebrate two people you love getting married.”
Luckily, he says there are some smart ways to keep costs to a minimum – and still have a great day!
A good place to start is by setting yourself a budget…
“You’ll know well in advance if you’re invited to a wedding, and roughly what things you’ll need to buy – which gives you a decent amount of time to save and plan,” says Lakhani.
Using a smart money app means you can set up a saving pocket and automatically stash away small amounts of money each week. He says this is a relatively painless way to make sure you have enough set aside to afford any upcoming expenses.
Jessica Flinn-Allen, CEO of Jessica Flinn Fine Jewellery agrees: “Planning ahead and being strategic about saving can ease the financial burden of attending a wedding.”
This is especially true if you’re at a stage in life when you anticipate attending multiple weddings. “Putting aside as little as £5 per week can add up and significantly help with wedding-related expenses,” says Flinn-Allen.
“Also, consider creating a Monzo pot or a similar savings account,” she adds. “It’s a great way to put aside money regularly and keep track of your wedding-guest budget.”
The key is to plan in advance…
If you’re driving, cut costs by sharing a ride with friends or family and split the petrol costs, says Lakhani.
With an increase in rail fares just shy of 6% this year, he says it’s important to look for a good deal well in advance. “Different operators release advance tickets at different times, so one good trick is to sign up for Trainline’s Ticket Alert tool to let you know when tickets for your route are on sale.”
Make sure you compare the price of the actual ticket on the train operator’s site however, warns Lakhani, as this could be cheaper as you won’t be paying Trainline’s fees.
For longer journeys, see if you can get a good deal on a split ticket site. “These basically split your journey into several different tickets for each leg of the journey, and can sometimes save you a lot of money,” explains Lakhani.
He says SplitMyFare is a good site to use, although it will charge you a small amount for using the service. “You can even split your journey yourself by searching for the different legs and booking each one separately, but this can be time-consuming.”
If you’re planning to use a taxi service, check if other guests can share with you to keep the expense down, suggests Lakhani. “And pre-book taxis well in advance, agreeing a price with the taxi driver beforehand so you don’t get stung by surprise fees.”
An overnight stay, especially if you’re travelling some distance, takes the stress out of the journey home. Unfortunately, this is where you end up splurging rather than scrimping.
If you need to stay in a specific hotel, take advantage of any group booking discounts via the couple’s wedding arrangements, says Lakhani. Also, see if you can make savings by sharing a room with a friend or forgoing extras such as breakfast.
He says you can sometimes find cashback on chain hotels and booking portals via websites like Quidco and TopCashback. Another good trick is to sign up for hotel mailing lists well in advance, to see if they offer any discounts to members.
Alternatively, it may be a cheaper option to avoid hotels completely…
“As you will spend most of the night at the wedding, something simple will often do,” notes Lakhani. “Booking a private room in someone’s house via a site such as airbnb will be much cheaper.”
Wedding guest outfit
When it comes to attire, it’s wise to choose an outfit you can wear again, says Flinn-Allen. “You can accessorise with different jewellery, scarves, or other pieces to give it a fresh look for each occasion. This not only helps you save, but is a more sustainable approach to fashion.”
“Charity shops can be a treasure trove for finding unique and even luxury items at a fraction of the original price,” she continues. “Also, consider online platforms where you can rent designer dresses and accessories for a day.”
Pippa Masson, events and wedding writer for Fizzbox says: “It’s incredibly rare that I’ll actually pay full price for any kind of occasionwear these days – especially with the cost of living to contend with.
“I would always recommend Vinted to anyone looking for something new to wear as a wedding guest,” advises Masson. “Prices are generally cheaper than other second-hand websites and much of the time, you’ll find unworn items, brand new with tags.”
Make sure to allow for the buyer-protection fee and delivery on top of your purchase price, notes Masson. “Although, this cost will be minimal compared to buying the item brand new from the shops or online.”
One tip is to be proactive with the wedding registry, so you can pick a gift quickly to fit your budget before it’s claimed, says Masson. “Plus, you’ll have time to look for a deal or a discount code for further savings.”
Secondly, consider chipping in with other guests to buy a more significant present, suggests Flinn-Allen. “This not only allows for a more substantial gift but can also help everyone involved save money.
“The average cost of a wedding gift can vary, but pooling resources can certainly help to defray individual costs.”
POST AUTHOR: Sam Wylie-Harris