Economy & Jobs

Wedding Season: Millennials’ Guide to Financially Surviving

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Summer is just around the corner, and many Millennials will soon find countless wedding invitations in their mailboxes. Today, the average wedding costs over $30,000, but if you have a slew of engaged friends, it can feel like it costs the same amount to get through wedding season as a guest. You want to be a good, supportive friend, but there’s no denying that simply attending multiple weddings isn’t cheap.

To get through it all, take a page out of the frugal books of a couple financial bloggers to ensure you can afford your friends’ festivities.

Be Realistic

Stefanie O’Connell, author and blogger on The Broke and Beautiful Life, says that it’s difficult to juggle wedding obligations when guests are expected to participate in an ever-growing number of ways. “Every wedding has at least two or three pre-events in addition to the big day itself, so even with just two weddings in a season, the expectations get overwhelming really fast,” she says.

Stefanie explains that she keeps things under control by thinking about the realities of her own situation. She doesn’t say “yes” to every invitation or request.

“I think critically about what the relative expenses of attending an event will be before committing,” she says. “In fact, I say ‘no’ quite a bit to make sure I don’t overextend myself financially.”

Plan Ahead and Spend Smart

On the other hand, Stefanie doesn’t decline every invite. She plans ahead to make sure she can attend her friends’ weddings while remaining within her budget. She says she tries to split expenses when possible to lessen the burden on everyone. She shares rooms, goes in on gifts with friends, and carpools.

Another blogger, Steven from Even Steven Money, points out that getting through wedding season doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. In the past, he’s attended some of the wedding festivities — but not all.

“In each instance, I let the groom know that either I could attend the wedding or bachelor party,” says Steven. “This was a significant way to cut costs just by being upfront about it.”

If you’re buried under requests for your attendance, Steven says there’s nothing wrong with making a choice about which event is most important to you. “I decided for some friends that I just didn’t have the money to do a bachelor party and wedding,” he explains. “I have not had any of my friends be upset that I couldn’t make it.”

Be Frugal With These Tips

To reduce the costs of the events you agree to go to, try to:

  • Book travel and accommodations early for the best rates.
  • Volunteer to help out at the wedding as your gift to the couple (especially if you’re a talented photographer, baker, or crafter).
  • Shop the registry early for a wide variety of gifts — and price points — to choose from.
  • Avoid buying an outfit that’s just for the event (try borrowing or buying secondhand).

By taking small actions, you can easily lessen your financial burden during wedding season. Ultimately, these bloggers say that simply finding a balance between staying on budget and supporting your friends is key. For Stefanie, communication is another big factor. If you’re struggling to figure out how to afford wedding season, speak up. “So often I hear people stress and complain about these costs in quiet or in secret, and yet the mania continues,” she says. “If we don’t talk openly and honestly, we’ll never break this unsustainable cycle of overspending.”

Kali Hawlk is a financial writer and the marketing manager for XY Planning Network. She is passionate about helping others do more with their money, their careers, and their lives. You can find her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.