I’ve done a lot of research on the subject and concluded that everyone has that year: the year of all the weddings. Like all of them. At the same damn time.
For me, that meant six destination weddings for six people whose weddings I really, really wanted to go to, all of which required plane tickets and hotels for two people since I was married at the time. For a BFF that same year, there were 13 weddings (although if you ask me she got off easy because most of them were in Long Island, which apparently is a place that natives like to return to to proclaim their love for one another, unlike my New Jersey homeland).
Either way, we both ended that year a lot broker than we started. I’m embarrassed to say exactly how much money flew out of my pockets, but for those in the know, let’s say that if none of those wonderful people had met and fell in love, I could have maxed out my IRA. Twice.
This might be that year for you. Over the course of Covid lots of weddings have been cancelled and now we have not only the post-pandemic, rescheduled wedding surge, but ALSO all the weddings that were always supposed to happen in 2021 and 2022. Two years worth of weddings crammed into one can mean double the gifts, double the dresses, double the plane tickets, and if you don’t have a plan, double the credit card bills to make up for all the spending.
I’m here to help you make that plan. Following these 4 tips can save you a lot of money and help you avoid regrets during your year of all the weddings.
Make a realistic list of costs.
When my clients tell me they have a big life event on the horizon, I always ask them for the specifics. If you’re going on a trip, I want to know if you’re taking a cab to the airport. That costs money. If you’re moving, I want to know if you’re hiring a moving company, calling up a Man with a Van, or paying your friends in pizza and beer. None of that is free, so it all counts as costs. The same goes for weddings. Do you need to travel? Do you need a dress? A hotel? A lip wax? Write it down. Everything. If what you’re thinking is just that “this one won’t be that expensive” there’s no way to create boundaries and targets. There’s also no way to create a savings goal beforehand, increasing the likelihood that it’s going to cost you interest on your credit card, in addition to what it costs to enjoy the event.
2. Listen when they say your presence is their present.
As a devout atheist, I don’t use this term lightly, but I have to say I’m blessed to have a big, amazing group of lady friends who I love dearly. They’re out there doing amazing things all over the country, and some of them all over the world. We have an unspoken but never questioned rule: if one of us is getting on a plane to celebrate someone, that is the gift. Plane tickets and hotels and Airbnbs are expensive, but we rally and do what we can to be there for each other. And that is enough. People you love will not care if you haven’t followed the “pay for your plate” advice for an appropriate wedding gift, unless you bring a date you’ve only known for two weeks, but that’s a separate issue to be taken on in a different advice column.
3. Borrow things.
I’m serious. There’s no reason why, if you’re going to 6 or 13 weddings in one year, that you have to buy 6 or 13 dresses and the accompanying shoes, bag, and whatever else. For a recent wedding that included 3 days of celebrations and required 3 different dresses, I went to my 13-wedding friend’s house, brought a bottle of wine, and tried on all of her clothes. Not only did it feel like I had a personal stylist for the low cost of $20, but I saved many hundreds of dollars, if not more. No one knew, and if they had, no one would have cared. I dry cleaned it all and handed it back to my friend with another bottle of wine. There’s photographic evidence that I looked great, and my bank account took a $100 hit (which went on the list!).
4. Talk to your friends about your financial capability.
For real, guys, just do it. It’s been a tough year. Everyone knows it. Everyone has felt it. Some of us lost jobs, lots of us experienced financial insecurity, and if an uptick in Financial Gym memberships is any indication (and we know it is), a LOT of people have decided to get serious about their finances after the roller coaster of 2020. There’s no shame in that. As plans are being made, have frank discussions about how much you can chip in for a bachelorette party, or whether you need to stay at a cheap Airbnb instead of a fancy hotel. If your friends are like mine, more fortunate friends will chip in where struggling friends can’t, and they’ll appreciate the fact that you love and respect them enough to be honest. Plus, we’re all about shedding the world of financial shame and we can’t be a part of that if we’re not honest.
When we work with clients on their financial wellness, it’s always our goal to help clients say yes to all the amazing opportunities that come their way. But we want them (and you!) to say yes from a place of intention, one that is informed by a plan that helps you pay for things that are important to you without derailing your financial foundation. Having a budget, reducing costs where you can, and being upfront about your limitations can help you shed some anxiety and have more fun.
How can I get through the post-Covid wedding surge without going broke? is written by Terri Bennett, A Certified Financial Trainer for financialgym.com