Money Talks, So Should You

Budget Whisperer: The high cost of attending a wedding

Susan Russell
by Susan Russell, Dimespring 30

I know it’s not wedding season, but I just attended a January wedding, so I’m going to talk about it. Because I can.

Weddings are expensive, that’s a given. There are countless references helping brides-to-be plan a wedding on a budget, along with guidelines reminding the happy couple of all the little things that add up. But what about those not in the wedding party? They have to pay, too. Sure, a reception is fun and games, but getting there is no picnic for your wallet.

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I don’t mean to complain about having to go to weddings, and I don’t want anyone to feel bad about inviting me to their big day. Weddings are generally a great time, filled with catching up with old friends and dancing to songs that are shunned any other day of the year, not to mention the free food. Still, while it would seem as though being just another guest at a momentous occasion is as simple as showing up and donning a smile, there is more to plan for. Is your budget prepared?

The scenario: some of your college friends are getting married. Great! But you’ve moved away, so let’s really picture this as a mini vacation. Plans for travel, possible days off work, and accommodations need to be accounted for. You can fly, but plane tickets can be outrageous, or you can drive, but gas can be equally absurd and would require more time off. You’re going to want to enjoy the reception for all it’s worth, so let’s just plan on at least one night at a hotel. And hopefully the wedding is later on Saturday so you can travel exclusively on the weekend and not have to forfeit any income in order to have a good ol’ celebration.

But once your travel details have been ironed out it’s time to party, right? Wrong. Don’t forget about the gift registry you have to check out, or at the very least the cash you need to withdraw. And then figure out how to best package and display your uniquely creative present. (Has anyone else noticed how expensive cards are these days?) Gift bag and tissue paper? Bell-themed wrapping paper? So many decisions!

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Ok, so you’ve made it to the wedding and have something to offer. Phew! You probably think you’ve covered everything and are good to go. Nice try, but what are you wearing? If you’re of the male persuasion, your simple suit and tie is probably worthy, but let’s be honest, ladies, wearing the same dress to multiple weddings just won’t do. Pictures will be taken, and people will notice. And depending on how much you want/need to impress the people you are reuniting with, you may even want to consider a mani-pedi and a visit to the hair stylist. Look your best! (As long as it’s not better than the bride.)

So, while the summer rush of weddings is a ways off, perhaps you should begin budgeting all the expenses required to show your loved ones you care about their future as well as yours.

Susan Russell, aka the Budget Whisperer, is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.