Wedding guests may end up dropping hundreds, even thousands, on weddings and related events over the course of the season, according to an updated 2018 Bankrate survey.
The survey found that the amount you spend on attending a wedding depends on your relationship with the couple. Factoring in the costs of gifts, travel, accommodations, makeup, clothing, and child care, a member of the wedding party spends an average of $433 attending. A close friend or relative spends upwards of $324, on average, while a distant friend or relative spends $180. And that's not including the cost of attending showers, bachelorette parties, or other related events.
But you don't have to break the bank celebrating the people you love. Here's how you can go to weddings without going broke.
Wedding guests spend an average of anywhere from $64-$111 on travel costs for each wedding, according to the Bankrate survey.
One way to cut costs is by driving instead of flying. If the drive is five hours or less, it may be worth it, says Scott Wainner, CEO and founder of Fareness, a discount airline site. "Factors to consider when comparing the time of driving versus flying should include the drive time to the airport, the advance time required at the airport and security line, taxi time, and unforeseen delays," he says.
If you drive, consider carpooling, says Lizzie Post, copresident of The Emily Post Institute. She suggests paying for gas or snacks if you're riding with another guest. Don't forget to factor gas into your travel—the average U.S. price of regular-grade gas is $2.75 a gallon.
Find out if the couple getting married has booked a room block for guests at a hotel near the venue. Staying in the same location as other guests can make getting to the wedding venue easier, and group rates average anywhere from 15%-40% below the sticker price.
If those rates are still too high, then skip the preferred venue and find a reasonably priced Airbnb, possibly with a pal, or crash with someone you know in the area, suggests Post.
In some cases, you can score a great deal on a hotel room by waiting until the last minute. The travel app HotelTonight offers same-day discounts on select rooms. You can save more than 50% on same-day deals in Miami, Florida, for instance, which is considered one of the best spots in the U.S. for destination weddings.
Though it's tempting to buy a new outfit, consider reasonably priced alternatives. You can find a $600 designer dress for $70 on Rent the Runway, for example, although you'll need to pay a membership fee in order to get access. And Sephora offers free makeovers when you make a $50 purchase, if you're looking to replenish products anyway.
Post says she rewears the same dress and switches up her shoes and jewelry, or adds a scarf when she attends weddings: "Work within your means; debt is not a fun thing to be in."
Guests typically shell out $76-$120 on gifts for wedding-related events like showers or bachelorette parties, according to the Bankrate survey. Cary Carbonaro, author of "The Money Queen's Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear," says to use your relationship to the couple as a gift-giving guide, while also considering the amount you're spending on travel, accommodations, and more.
Save on gifts by going in on group presents, or by giving personalized items like monogrammed pillows or cups, which feel special but can be found starting at around $25, she says.
Post says how much you spend "has nothing to do with the formality of a wedding or cost of a wedding." Guests should only give what they can: "The really awesome part is it totally depends on your budget."
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