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Surviving Wedding Season

April 5th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

A Guest’s Guide To Avoiding Financial Ruin By Labor Day

More than 61 million Americans will attend at least one wedding this year, and they’ll spend at least $30 billion in the process.

According to new research by American Express, the average guest will shell out $339 to attend each wedding they’re invited to—and that’s not even considering a gift.Plan on giving one? That’ll be $150. Oh—you’re in the wedding party? You’ll drop at least another hundred in incidentals (an expensive dress and pre-wedding cocktails).

With five weddings on my dance card this season, including one stint as a bridesmaid, it’s all adding up to a very romantic budget-breaker. But according to AMEX’s Melanie Backs, I should be thankful that it’s 2012—and not 2011- -that’s my busiest wedding year to date. “Last year expenses were considerably higher,” she tells me. In fact, according to their numbers I’m saving more than $700 on what I would have shelled out last year.

So stretched as my spending may be for the summer, there is a silver lining. “We’re seeing people spending much smarter than they were in the past,” says Backs, adding that the deal-seeking mentality is one positive repercussion of the recession years. These days looking to cut costs isn’t just the norm—but the rule, she says, pointing to clothing and hotel spending as the areas with the biggest decrease in dollar signs.

 

And lucky for everyone, the web provides ample resources to do so. Thanks to online services and mobile apps, consumers and wedding guests are better equipped than ever to save.

Here, 10 financial tactics for cutting costs this wedding season:

If you want to save on gifts…

While the number one most preferred wedding gift is, of course, cold, hard cash, more than one in five couples surveyed by AMEX said they’d prefer to receive a gift off of their registry. What’s the problem? If you don’t get in early you can find yourself browsing a registry with only Dyson vacuums and Kitchen Aid mixers left over. That’s right—the expensive stuff. Don’t fret. Elle Shapiro, “expert wedding guest” and founder of SurviveWeddingSeason.com says your best bet is to team up with friends for big ticket items. Look for sites like SplittABill and WePay to make getting your pals shell out their share painless.

If you’ve got a multiple weddings lined up this summer and are anticipating a major wallet-wringing in July, take a breather. Press pause on your shopping and remind yourself that you have at least six months to make good on your gift. (“Or a year,” says Shapiro. “Just add a tag that says “Happy anniversary!”) Use this time to stagger gifts over the coming months when your budget isn’t as taxed with trips up and down the coast for wedding weekends. She says it also leaves you open to taking advantage of sales down the road—an appliance that’s full price in July just might be much cheaper come Black Friday. But if you do forgo the gift on the day of the ceremony, she advises at least bringing a card to give the couple a memento of your celebrating their day.

If there simply isn’t room in your budget for a present, Shapiro’s advice is to forgo it altogether and instead give the gift of your time and talents. “Offer to do the bride’s hair and make-up if you can,” she says, “or maybe you’re great with flowers and can arrange the centerpieces.” With so many brides and grooms looking to cut their own wedding costs, offering them a place to save as a congratulatory gift might be the perfect solution for both parties.

Maxed out your credit cards on plane tickets and hotel rooms? Backs says you might as well put your rewards points to good use. “So many reward points can be traded in for products or even gift cards that can make great gifts in a pinch—and not leave you looking for cash,” she says. “If you’ve got a bunch of points that you don’t know what to do with, gift cards are a great option.”

If you want to save on looking good…

Why shell out a few hundred bucks on a cocktail dress when you can rent the thing for a quarter of the price? Shapiro says that when it comes to wedding attire, it’s best to become a renter. For $50 she wore a Bagdeley Mishka gown from RenttheRunway to a recent wedding and felt like a million bucks. With prices that range from $40 to $200 for the weekend it certainly beats five trips to the mall and a closet full of formalwear.

But for those of us (like moi) who have enough weddings this summer that even $50 a pop seems like an unnecessary expenditure, Shapiro’s still got a solution: rally your friends for a dress-swap. “When you’ve got a closet full of dresses you’ve already worn and don’t want to keep seeing them pop up in Facebook photos, call your friends and organize an exchange.” It’s a win-win, she says. “You’ve all got something to wear and you got to hang out in the process.”

Whether you’re in the bridal party or not, we all want to look our best at weddings. But rather than wait until the last minute for your manicure at the hotel spa the morning of, Shapiro advises we book all grooming appointments at home where prices are often cheaper (Cost around the corner from the FORBES office: $12. Cost at the nearest hotel spa: $31)“I’ve noticed WashingtonDC has much more expensive manicures than we do in L.A. or even in New York,” Shapiro adds. “Just be sure to check with the bride on a preferred color if you’re in the party.”

If you want to save on travel…

The average amount wedding guests spend on travel is on the decline according to the numbers from American Express, from $96 in 2011 to just $56 in 2012. Why? According to Backs, there are two factors at play: consumers are getting savvy to travel deals and discounts online and they’re taking advantage of travel miles. Both she and Shapiro say looking into off-peak travel timescan help considerably, both with flights and train rides. I can say from experience that catching the red eye back to New York after an L.A. wedding isn’t the most fun morning-after, but it can be the best option for your budget.

The bride and groom may have booked a block of rooms at the Ritz, but finding a half-priced Hilton down the block is a perfectly acceptable way to cut down on wedding weekend spending, says Shapiro. One caveat if you’re looking to book a price-conscious nearby hotel: make sure to inform the bride of your plans—especially if you’re a member of the wedding party. “As long as you approach her with grace and consideration she’ll understand,” Shapiro says. “Look at a map and make sure you’re nearby. The last thing you’d want is to be late on the big day.”

We all know that checking bags on a flight is a prelude to an in-flight freak-out: Will they lose my bag? Will my shampoo explode all over my dress? Will my tweezers be confiscated? But when it comes to a wedding weekend the benefits of carrying on are threefold: you save on checked-bag fees, you rest-assured your bridesmaid dress will make it to your final destination and—if you’re nice to the flight attendants—they’ll hang it so it gets there wrinkle-free.

Source: forbes.com

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