The Best Ways to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

By Rachel Wilkerson, Lover.ly

Being a wedding guest doesn't come cheap; between the travel costs, the gift, and the dress, things can really add up! Even if you aren't heading to a destination wedding, there can still be a lot of expenses. And if all your friends are getting married (which isn't uncommon in your twenties, especially if you have a significant other whose friends are also getting married), your budget can really take a hit. So before you start taking money from your 401(k) to get through wedding season, here are our tips for saving money as a wedding guest.

green bridesmaids dresses
Photo by: Elizabeth Messina on Little Borrowed Dress via Lover.ly

Find a dress you really like and wear it to every wedding for an entire season. (Bonus points if you can add tights and a dressy cardigan to wear it in the fall and winter too!) Who cares if the same group of friends will be in attendance at each wedding? Re-wearing the same dress repeatedly isn't unfashionable; it's just smart. And if you have a lot of wedding events to attend, have a backup dress that will work for showers and rehearsal dinners as well as weddings. You can wear one dress to the shower/rehearsal and the other to the wedding...and then swap them for the next wedding events you attend.

Re-purpose an old bridesmaids dress as a guest dress. We know every bride says you can wear that bridesmaid dress again, but a wedding is actually one time when a vibrantly-colored taffeta dress doesn't look out of place. You can have a tailor turn a floor-length gown into a cute cocktail dress, or add a beaded belt, bolero, or just new accessories to breathe new life into it.

chevron place setting
Photo by: Pictilio on Engaged and Inspired via Lover.ly

Skip the registry. If everything on the registry seems wrong to you (either too expensive or too cheap), don't use it! There are so many ways to get creative with your gift to save cash. (And if you don't use the registry, the couple won't know what you spent anyway!) You could make a DIY gift or pick up something made by a local artist. Our favorite option is to hit an antique store for something cool but inexpensive that the couple will really appreciate.

Go in on a gift with other people. Split the cost of a gift with a friend (or group of friends) who are also attending the wedding. A nice $100 item can become a totally budget-friendly gift if you split it with friends.

Know that you don't have to give a pricey gift for every event...or at all. We've said it before, but we'll say it again: wedding gifts are optional, and you should never let the cost of a gift keep you from attending a wedding. While we always recommend giving a card at the wedding (and each event), don't give a gift if you aren't comfortable with it.

travel engagement
Photo by: Lauren Fair Photography on Bridal Musings via Lover.ly

Take the lead on travel plans and hotel arrangements. As soon as you get the save-the-date, talk to mutual friends about sharing a room or driving together. (Both of these are great ways to save on costs.) If you don't really know anyone or will be attending alone, reach out to the couple and let them know you're looking for a buddy; they will likely know if other guests are in the same boat. It's quite possible other people are looking for travel buddies too but aren't sure how to take the lead on making plans.

Look beyond the hotel block...and beyond hotels in general. While couples usually try to choose a couple of options for hotels (and ideally will choose one that's affordable), there is no rule that says you have to stay at the hotel they recommend. So do a hotel search of your own, mention on Facebook that you're looking for a place to crash on Facebook, and check out websites like Airbnb for rentals at every price point.

wedding invtiation
From Minted via Lover.ly

Make a budget at the beginning of the year for weddings. If you know there are a lot of weddings in your future, plan accordingly. Figure out what you may need to spend on (attire, travel, gifts) and how much you can afford over the course of the year, and then figure out what to allocate to each wedding. It may feel a little brutal to approach it that way, but it's the responsible thing to do. Without a budget, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and buying a gift here and a new dress there can mean the costs can add up very quickly.

Don't say yes to every wedding. While RSVP-ing "no" certainly isn't our first choice, don't stress yourself out about attending every wedding to which you're invited if you just can't afford it. Chances are, the couple isn't going to be as offended as you think they are if you don't plan to attend. And it's better to skip the weddings of people you don't know well or don't much care for so you have a little extra cash to spend on the people you really care about.

More from Lover.ly:
Shower and rehearsal dresses for brides and guests
Our favorite summer wedding ideas
Find the perfect wedding accessories