Mar 31 2008

Plan ahead for out-of-town weddings


M has two wedding-related questions for me. I’ll answer the first now, and the second one about wedding gifts in an upcoming post:

Do any of you budget for future weddings (friends’ weddings, not your own)? I’m specifically thinking about ones that will require air travel, hotel, etc. Any tips are appreciated.

Thanks for your questions! I’ll do my best to answer them, and I hope readers will add their own ideas in the comments section.

Not many of my friends or family members are getting married in the near future. The last wedding I attended (that wasn’t my own) was in December 2006. The next one for us is in May (in Florida!), and as of now, that’s the last one we’ll be attending for some time, as far as I can tell.

I’ve written about my Florida trip plans (see links below), and while it’s looking to be cheaper than I first thought, it’s still going to be quite expensive for us. In fact, it’s probably going to be around 1/3 of the cost of our own wedding!

I think in a few years, more of my friends will be getting married, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead for those happy times so they won’t have a negative effect on our budget. Once our emergency fund is completed, we’ll start a separate savings sub-account, where we can earmark money for gifts in general, and also wedding travel.

I don’t know how much we’ll put in the general gifts/wedding travel fund just yet, but I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere around $25-50 per month or so until we’re up to about $1,000. Since we don’t have single/engaged friends in Pittsburgh, we’ll have to travel to the next wedding we attend–whenever that is. Dunno for sure on that, though.

If you sense that you’ll be attending some weddings in the future, it’s a good idea to start saving. How much should you sock away? Consider some costs of standard items I’ve listed below. There’s lots of room to be frugal here, of course.

And, if you know you’ll need to travel to attend someone’s wedding, the sooner you can start planning, the better it will be on your budget.

Costs many wedding guests can expect to incur:

  • Gift for the bride and groom. I’ll post on this soon! Stay tuned.
  • New outfit including shoes if the guest doesn’t have something appropriate. If you’re a recent college grad or tend to have a basic wash ‘n wear wardrobe like me, then you might not have something to wear. Look through your closet to be sure, and if you’ll need a new outfit, keep your eyes out for sales (the clearance rack is your friend!) as well as checking thrift stores for possibilities. Choose a classic outfit that will work for plenty of weddings or nicer events, of course. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll likely end up paying more, so start shopping well in advance.

If you’re traveling far enough that you’ll need to spend the night, you can also expect:

  • Transportation expenses. This can include gas money, train fare, bus fare, or airplane tickets. When you fly, you’ll also have to consider the costs of getting to and from an airport, which can include taxis, shuttle services, airport parking, and a rental car at your destination.
  • Food. Sure, you’d be eating whether you were home or away. But it’s still a cost to consider. Maybe you’re like me, and like to get a snack at the airport. Or maybe you’ll turn the whole event into a vacation, and might eat out at a few restaurants.
  • Lodging. Can you stay with friends or family? Either see if you can stay at their home, or if several friends/family are traveling to the wedding destination, perhaps you can get a group rate on a hotel room. If you’ll be in the area for more than a few days, look into renting a vacation home to keep costs down.

Whenever you fly, consider signing up for frequent flier programs, and use them for all of your travels. Perhaps eventually, you’ll be able to score a free flight–maybe to someone’s wedding.

The worst-case scenario: Don’t attend. Just send a gift with your warmest regards. If someone you’re not super-close to anymore is getting married and it’s absolutely not in your budget to travel to attend their wedding, really consider not going. Sure, it’s a bummer to miss out, but if you’re in debt and will have to go further into debt to attend, that’s something really worth weighing out.


Check out my posts on preparing for our Florida trip, including our flight and lodging.

And, check out all the posts I’ve written about lowering wedding costs.

Here’s a bunch of wedding-related posts, available on Family and Finances (Thanks to Mrs. Micah for posting the link on her blog).

(Photo credit: Aaron Bernstein, who took this at my wedding)

Posted under Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Plan ahead for out-of-town weddings”

  1. Thank you so much for posting my questions and always replying, Kacie.

    Just to clarify, either my fiancé or I are in most of these weddings that I’m referring to (so expenses will usually include a bridesmaids dress, manicure, maybe a hairdo, and we usually have above-and-beyond expenses like a shower/bachelor’s/bachelorette party to contribute to but there always seems to be new expenses with each wedding that I’d like to budget for). We have two weddings this summer (he’s in one, I’m in the other) and then our own is in October, another next May (neither of us are in that one!), and one next summer (he’s likely to be in that one). Besides our own, only one of those weddings is likely to be driving distance. We did invest in a very classic/Frank Sinatra-looking tuxedo for my fiancé, which he should be able to wear to most of these weddings (except maybe the innards) if they are formal (and, of course, our own!).

  2. I found out that I was going to be a bridesmaid in both my brother’s wedding and a friends wedding well over a year before they were both scheduled. Both weddings were in town, so I needed to pay for the dresses, gifts, showers, bachelorette parties, etc. I figured that, if I saved a dollar a day for both, I would be covered. The extra-advanced notice prompted me to put $28 every two weeks into a special savings account. By the time the weddings rolled around, I had plenty of money saved, and I never felt the hit in my pocketbook!

  3. Oh. Well in that case, definitely start putting away money, since being in a wedding can be super expensive!

    As you know, bridesmaid’s dresses can range anywhere from $75 to $300, depending on the dress.

    When I was a bridesmaid, the bride treated us to a manicure at a beauty school. It was like $5 each or so. It was fun for us all, and it wasn’t expensive for her.

    I guess my best advice is to do your best to calculate what being in these weddings will cost, and make a plan for saving up for that amount of money.

    And for your wedding in October, be a kind bride and try to keep the costs down for your bridal party, of course :)

  4. This is kind of along the lines of your wedding post but my girlfriend and I are planning on getting married in a few years and we are in the same bind.

    We plan on moving across the US (about 1k miles) and we figured if we get married across the US, the people that truly love us will come, haha but we don’t know how many! That’s where it’s hard to plan our budget.

  5. Thanks for linking to my blog!

    My husband and I are going to a wedding in Arizona at the beginning of May. That is going to be an expensive wedding! *sigh*

  6. Glad I could help. Becky’s got some good stuff. :)

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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