How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

We get asked by couples all the time about how they can save on the cost of their wedding, from budgeting tips and how to curb last-minute spending, to how to make it less expensive for your guests. But this post is just for the guests, especially those who might have multiple wedding invites in the same year, and are looking for ways to cut the cost of attending a wedding.

Research suggests the average cost of attending a wedding can be almost €1,200 in Ireland, £1,045 in the UK, and $1,296 in the USA, so going to a wedding is a pricey affair, regardless of how low-key the day or how generous the couple. But there are ways to cut back on your spend, with a bit of planning, and some lateral thinking. So read on for our top 20 tips for guests on how to save money when attending a wedding.

How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

Accomodation Savings

1. Book Early: Most couples will have an agreed wedding rate at their venue, which means a discounted room rate for guests. However, there might be a limited allocation of rooms for the wedding, so booking early will assure that you get one of them.

2. Use Price Comparison Websites: When it comes to destination weddings, the early bird gets the bargain. Decide if you’re attending quickly and use a comparison website such as Kayak or Skyscanner to get the best price on flight options. This might involve a connecting flight or flying to another airport nearby.

3. Reduce the Rate: Ask if there’s a stay-only rate available that doesn’t include breakfast at your accommodation. If it’s just one-night and you’re not going to be up for breakfast anyway, it could save you up to €40 on the rate. Even at a destination wedding for a few days, it would be less expensive (and more fun) to go out for a grab-and-go breakfast somewhere each morning.

4. Look Around: While it’s lovely to stay at the wedding venue, most will have B&Bs, Airbnbs and other hotels close by to deal with overflow, and which might be less expensive.

5. Share or Book in Groups: If you are going down the Airbnb or private rental route, buddy up to split the cost.

Transport Savings

6. Hire a Bus: If individual late-night taxis are going to be expensive, hire a mini bus to take you back to your accommodation or to a city centre location where people can make their way home easily. Ask the couple to put you in touch with other guests who might be interested, to get an idea of numbers and cost.

7. Consider Driving: This will save on the cost of a taxi, accomodation and significantly curb any spend on drinks.

8. Hitch a Lift: There’s always a guest who is expecting, has to work the next day, or cannot get an overnight babysitter. Ask if there’d like some company in the car and offer to contribute to their fuel and parking costs.

Wardrobe Savings

9. Rent, Borrow or Re-wear: If your budget doesn’t stretch to splashing out on a wear-it-once item, whether it’s a black-tie dress or a headpiece, then why not hire your outfit at a fraction of the cost. It’s also a very eco-friendly approach to wedding fashion. We rounded up the best places to hire and borrow a gorgeous wedding guest outfit here, and hats and headpieces here. Browsing these sites is every bit as fun as shopping for something to buy. You can also reach out to friends to borrow an outfit, or restyle something from your own wardrobe with help from your local dressmaker who can suggest a redesign.

10. Do Your Own Hair and Makeup: Is there anything nicer than getting your hair or makeup done by a pro? It’s such a treat, especially if you want your look to last all day. But if this is beyond your budget, DIY is the answer. There are tonnes of tutorials online (and we recommend practicing in advance), or we have great posts that teach you how to get retro Jessica Rabbit waves, beachy textured waves, and even how to make your makeup last all day and night.

Drinks Savings

11. Set a Budget: When the good vibes and the vino are flowing, it’s east to feel generous at the bar. Set a budget of how much you can afford to spend in advance, and stick to it. Why not transfer the fund to a Revolut vault, and use this to pay for your drinks. Then once it’s gone, it’s gone. You could even set it up a few weeks in advance and save up in this vault, by opting to round up the cost of your puchases, with the change being swept into the fund.

12. Ditch the Rounds: Rounds are a money black pit, and when it’s a big group not everyone ends up buying a round. When you’re on rounds in a smaller group, it might also mean you’re under pressure to drink at someone else’s pace. Our advice is to fly solo, and leave your credit card at home or in the hotel room (definitely not behind the bar!).

Gift Savings

13. Present Pool: We really only advise buying a gift for someone if you know them really well, especially if it’s something for their home. However, if you know the couple have always wanted a particular big ticket item, why not group together with other friends to buy it?

14. Gift Registry: Couples will usually include items at different price points on their wedding gift list, but do get in early in case all the lower priced gifts are gone. If they are, it’s not the end of the world as most gift registries, such as, allow people to present pool on bigger gifts, so you can make a contribution. The best thing about this is you know it’s something they really want.

15. Use your Talents: Think outside the box when it comes to gifting. Do you have a talent or skill which the could save the couple a significant amount, or make the day deeply personal to them. This could include singing or playing at the ceremony, making DIY decor or favours, doing hair or makeup, creating the guest book for them, or making a wedding cake. But do remember there is a difference between being good at something and being a professional. For instance, just because you’re a good baker doesn’t mean you have the skills to create a cake that will last in a hot room all day, or the means to transport it without damaging it.

Call in Favours

16. Ask Someone to Collect You: This might seem an obvious way to save money as a guest, but very often people will be very happy to give you a lift to and from a wedding even if they’re not attending, we just don’t tend to ask. You can always offer to do the same for them!

17. Free Babysitting: Babysitters, especially a late-night or overnight babysitter could set you back up to €100 for one night. Many hotels also offer babysitting services but these can also be pricey. Call in a favour from family or friends, with plenty of notice, to take care of your kids either at home, or in the hotel room.

Add-On Events Savings

18. Hen or Stag Party: Hen and stag parties are a lot of fun and are a great way to get to know other guests before the big day. But these can be expensive, especially if it involves an overnight stay or weekend away. Prioritise the ones you really should or want to attend, and consider saying no to the others. You could also take part in a portion of the activities if possible. For instance, attend the daytime activity, but opt out of dinner and drinks that evening.

19. Day Two: This is another popular addition to the wedding weekend, but can add siginificant cost to guests, especially if it involves staying a second night at your accommodation. Couples expect a drop off on numbers for day two, so if you just don’t have it in your budget, don’t feel obliged to say yes.

One Last Thing… You Can Always Decline

20. Say No: In a perfect world, you’d never have to decline a wedding invitation. But sadly, other financial commitments can get in the way of your good time. If you’re strapped for cash and don’t know the couple very well (and suspect you might be on their D list anyway – more on that here!), then it’s totally okay to decline an invite.

Of course, declining an invite from someone you are very close to is a very different matter, and we have a brilliant post that deals with how to decline an invitation here including how to word your response. But please remember that most couples want you there above all else (even over a gift!), and if you’re really struggling to make the wedding because your stretched financially, call in advance and explain your situation. This way they’ll have conext as to why you need to make some of the cost savings above.

We have lots more great advice for wedding guests from whether you can wear black or white, to what to wear to a summer black tie celebration.

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