How to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

Weddings are expensive—for couples and guests. Save your money—and your sanity—with our best advice on how to save money as a wedding guest.

By Laura Hensley

indian groom celebrates with wedding guests
Photo by Holly Von Lanken Photography

While weddings are great for your social life, they aren’t always kind to your wallet. Between gifts, outfits, and travel expenses, wedding guests can spend over $700 on a single wedding. If you’re headed to an overseas destination wedding, you’re looking to spend even more. Don’t miss out on your best friends’ weddings, though. Instead, follow our best advice on how to save money as a wedding guest.

Plan ahead and be organized.

If you know you have a bunch of weddings coming up in the next year or so, start saving as soon as possible. A “wedding guest fund” is a smart way to squirrel away money over time, making expenses feel more manageable. The last thing you want is to get hit with a credit card bill you can’t afford.

You also want to be organized. If you’re going to an out-of-town wedding, leaving the accommodation and car rentals to the last minute means losing out on early-bird deals. Prices can increase significantly closer to booking, or sell out altogether. Avoid this financial stressor by booking early and also checking to see if the accommodation offers wedding discounts. Oftentimes couples will reserve a block of hotel rooms or have a preferred guest rate. Check for these details on invites or on the pair’s wedding website.

If a wedding requires a flight, keep an eye out for deals. Sometimes booking early is best, but other times airlines have seat sales during off-season months. Do your homework and figure out the best time to score a discount. You can also cash in air miles or travel points should you have them.

INLINE EileenKPhotography 1080x720 Tiffany&Paul Photo Credit // Eileen K Photography

Rent, borrow, or re-wear outfits.

For men, wearing a different dress shirt, tie, or pocket square is often enough to change up the look of a suit. But for women, new wedding outfits can be more costly.

Save money by borrowing a dress from a friend, or renting an outfit. The idea of renting a cocktail dress or fancy ball gown is becoming more and more popular, and it’s far cheaper than purchasing the outfit yourself—especially if you have a lot of outfits to buy. Many clothing rental companies also have shoes and accessories, meaning you can rock an entirely new look without breaking the bank.

Another option? Stick to a black silhouette and change up your accessories. Find that perfect LBD or black jumpsuit and swap out the sweater, shoes, and jewelry for each wedding.

Split costs with a friend.

If money is tight, consider teaming up with a friend or loved one on all aspects of a wedding. This means going in on a wedding shower gift together, driving to events together, and splitting wedding-related costs whenever possible.

If you’re travelling with friends to a destination wedding, see if you can share a villa or AirBnB. Even going halves on hotel rooms reduces costs. If driving to a wedding instead of flying is an option, see if a friend wants to road trip with you. All these expenses add up, and sharing them with another person alleviates the financial burden from being entirely on you.

Fly solo.

If you’re bringing a date to a wedding, the general rule is that you gift a larger present. Some dates may be fine with covering their half, but depending on your etiquette and relationship status, bringing a date to a wedding often means it’s up to you to spot them (you invited them to your friend’s wedding, after all).

Save money by flying solo. If it’s a close friend or family member’s wedding, you’ll know other guests there anyways. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet!

INLINE LemonadePhotography 1080x720 Shante&Brian Photo Credit // Lemonade Photography

Gift smart.

Wedding registries often have items of varying price points. If you’re on a budget, stick to more affordable gifts. It’s perfectly OK to get a smaller-ticket item off a registry—the couple still asked for it.

Homemade or personalized gifts are great options, too. If you’re talented at scrapbooking, maybe you want to make an album for the couple highlighting their special moments together. If poetry is your thing, writing an original love sonnet is an incredibly thoughtful and one-of-a-kind gift. These presents can be very special for newlyweds.

Also, see if friends or family members are willing to go in on more expensive presents with you. Couples can mark certain gifts on their Zola registries as a “Group Gift.” This allows for multiple guests to contribute what they can to larger ticket items. This way, you’re still giving the couple things they want without breaking your personal bank account.

People are what make events memorable, so don’t sweat if you can’t spend as much as you’d like on a wedding. Plan ahead, be organized, and try to be as resourceful as possible. Your future self (and bank account) will thank you.

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