Recently, this writer’s mother pointed out to her that she could have put a down payment on a house for the amount she’s instead spent on attending the weddings of other people. After some quick calculations, I realized this was a fact and not hyperbole—yowza! Now, Angelenos may be fancier than others when it comes to designing their big days; however, according to a recent study conducted by Priceline.com, the average cost of attending a wedding is $600 per event. Here, we break down what this means and how to save wherever possible.
Once upon a time, it was the responsibility of the bride's parents to throw this party. Now, it more often falls to friends of the bride and, more specifically, her maid of honor. It goes without saying that hosting a soiree can cost well over that reported $600 average, making it a very stressful assignment.
How to Save: You are not responsible for sacrificing financially so that your bestie has an Instagram-worthy engagement party. If all you can afford are Trader Joe's hors d'oeuvres hosted at your home, that's perfectly acceptable. If you think she will be disappointed in what you can responsibly accomplish, speak with her about it honestly and openly, as there may be a solution that works for you both.
What About the Gift? If you're throwing the party, you do not also need to bring a gift. If you're simply attending, a cheap bottle of champagne is a perfectly acceptable present.
According to TheKnot.com, it's also the responsibility of the bridal party or maid of honor to throw the bridal shower—it's enough to make you end friendships in advance so as not to be asked to assume the "honor," isn't it?
How to Save: Often, family members are happy to throw showers on behalf of the bride, so if you're feeling stressed about the obligation, you might want to start by chatting with her mom, sister or the like. And while this isn't an official etiquette rule, we do not think you have to attend an out-of-town bridal shower under any circumstances—save for your very best friend—particularly if you will be traveling for the bachelorette party and wedding as well.
What About the Gift? If all you can reasonably afford from the registry is a ramekin, don't despair; any bride who is disappointed with the financial value of your gift should've gotten the ax long before it came to this. If you are self-conscious about what you can afford, go off registry so you can be more creative with your dollars—you can even DIY, if that's your thing.
Once again, this lovely expense lands on the bridesmaids. Unlike a shower or engagement party, however, the "head planner"—usually the maid of honor—can ask all parties outside of the bride to chip in on costs.
How to Save: Be honest with the bride—not everyone can afford a bachelorette vacation and then a destination wedding. It's perfectly acceptable to tell her you have to skip the bachelorette in favor of being there on her big day. If this doesn't feel like an option, talk to the other bridesmaids early on in the planning process to come up with a plan that won't cost you a month's salary. Shared houses in low-key destinations such as Austin are always a fun option, for example.
What About the Gift? Sometimes brides do lingerie showers during their bachelorette party. Yes, it's another expense, and yes, we get that at this point you're eyeing ramen recipes online. Just remember that you don't have to go all out on some crazy fancy lingerie—even Forever 21 has cute underpinnings.
As more and more people move away from where they grew up, it's increasingly common for weddings to take place in a city other than where the bride (or, more importantly, you) resides. And destination weddings are never not expensive.
How to Save: Sure, it's fun to stay where everyone else is staying during a wedding, but that doesn't mean you should if it's not within your budget. This writer once shunned an all-inclusive (read: overpriced) resort for an Airbnb and saved hundreds of dollars in the process—and ended up having a more authentic experience, too.
What About the Gift? At this point in the game, you probably feel like your friend should be giving you a gift. Again, this isn't official etiquette, but when it comes to the wedding gift, our motto is "do what you can." And remember: You traditionally have a year to send a gift, if you need a little cash-flow recovery time, but we see nothing wrong with sending something small and off-registry if that's all you can afford. That said, if this is the only wedding-related event you've attended, it is customary to spend around $50 minimum in order to offset the cost of including you.