Monday, July 15, 2013

The Wedding Guests Guide to Surviving the Season


Ah, wedding season… happy couples pledging their love, handwritten invitations, chocolate fountains, the chicken dance… and your wallet, wasting away! It seems like all weddings happen at the same time, and as fun and exciting as they are, each summer you can end up paying the equivalent of a couple of mortgage payments on clothes, travel and gifts. You don’t have to break the bank this wedding season! The following tips will help you save a lot of money, while still showing your soon-to-be-married friends and family a lot of love.

Save on Gifts


1. You know that everyone registers for gifts at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but you may not be aware that this store has a lot of opportunities for saving money. If you sign up for their mailing list you will receive coupons for 20% and $5 off your purchases, and these are no ordinary coupons. Even though they have expiration dates listed on them, the store will accept them indefinitely. Keep an envelope and hang on to them all year for big savings during the summer. Other small print you can ignore is the “one coupon per purchase” line. Normally they will accept one coupon per item. They will also accept competitor’s coupons.

Get a head start on savings! Leave a comment below with your most creative and cost-effective wedding gift idea and you could win a $25 gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond.

2. The wedding registry is not just a shopping list. It is an insight into the couple’s styles and desires. It is meant to be a guide for you, not the law. Once you have looked over the registry and gotten an idea of what the bride and groom are looking for, go elsewhere for good deals! Stores like Marshalls and HomeGoods have great things for newlyweds like picture frames, crystal vases and linens at much lower prices than brand name department stores. Using the registry you can find something you know the couple will love, at a much better value.

If you find something just perfect on the registry, try searching for the same exact item elsewhere. If you find a better price for it at a different store or online, buy it at the better price. As a help to the bride and groom, call the store where they are registered. Tell the store that you bought it but the registry is still showing that it has not been purchased, and they will most likely take it down. It requires a little fibbing but the bride and groom will avoid having to deal with returning duplicates after the wedding. (Just make sure it is exactly the same item!)

3. You are only one person, but you are not alone in the financial struggle to survive wedding season. Certainly other friends and family are trying to save money and give the bride and groom something wonderful as they enter into their life together. One way to afford a great gift is to go in as a group. With strength in numbers, you and friends or family can afford something bigger and more expensive, even something that may not be on their gift registry.

4. The best gifts are from the heart… and hands. If you have a special talent or hobby, you may want to consider making a wedding present instead of buying one. A crocheted blanket or a handmade photo album are gifts that mean more to newlyweds than china, and will save you a lot of money.
The gift of your time and skills is invaluable. Another option may be giving the couple a service that you specialize in. If you are a gardener, help them plant a garden at their new home together. If you like to cook, prepare the couple’s first meal together. Whatever you do will show them you care, without breaking the bank.

5. If you follow all of these tips, you will certainly save some money for yourself, but what about giving the gift of savings to the bride and groom? A great gift to give is a new skill that you learn to help prepare for the wedding. Your new skill and the savings you create can be the gift. Take a calligraphy class and help address the invitations. Take a class on flower arranging. Learn how to do the wedding day makeup. You could even have a makeup party with the bride and bridesmaids to learn which blush compliments your skin tone. You will all gain a new skill, spend time together, and save money!


If you’re the best man and not interested in the difference between Metallic Mauve and Windsor Rose lip color, there are many other skills you could pick up to help out with the wedding. Take a class on mixing music and offer to DJ the reception. Or become ordained for free online and perform the ceremony! (The Universal Life Church has an ordination application at their website at .) You could also offer to photograph or videotape the wedding if you have those skills. Whatever you do it will be especially valued because of your gift of time and effort. (Just make sure to give your gift to the bride and groom early in the process or they may already have chosen and booked a vendor.)

6. Something old and something new… We tend to focus on the second part of that adage. The newlyweds are moving into a new home and we buy them new gifts for their new life. But weddings are a perfect time to reflect on the past. If you are family of the soon-to-be newlyweds, a family heirloom can be a very meaningful gift, and costs you nothing.

Another possibility could be the presentation of something old as something new. If you find a shoebox full of the groom’s childhood baseball cards, you could put them together as an album. A slideshow of pictures from the couple’s youth is also a free and meaningful gift.

Save on Travel and Planning


7. The bride and groom will often reserve a block of rooms in a hotel for their guests at a discount. This can be a great opportunity for savings, but don’t assume it is the least expensive option. Before booking your room, check online for hotels in the area, or even the same hotel. You may be able to find a cheaper room.

You also may want to wait to reserve your room: the best deals may be available closer to the wedding date. This is a riskier option, but if rooms haven’t filled up the hotel may run a sale to entice travelers to stay with them. Be careful with this tip! If you wait too long you may have a hard time finding a room to stay in at all, or you may even find that room prices have gone up.

8. Weddings are always expensive for guests, but sometimes they are simply too expensive. Even if you are frugal with gift giving and party planning, it still costs a lot, especially if you are traveling. If you’ve already bought two blenders and four dresses this summer, and your freshman year roommate invites you to her wedding on the other side of the country, it may be time to say, “I love you… but no thanks”. This may be hard to consider: you want to spare no expense on your friends’ and families’ special days. But if it is simply out of your price range, they will understand. Be sure to send them a heartfelt note conveying your well wishes and the fact that you will be with them in spirit.

Another time you may have to say “no thanks” is if you are invited to be part of the wedding party. This level of involvement requires so many more expenses: the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the hair, the shower and bachelorette party (or the suit, the cufflinks and a bachelor party and four rounds of drinks). If you can make it to the wedding, but can’t afford to be in the wedding party, you can be involved in other ways. Be honest with the bride and groom. Tell them you would love to celebrate with them, but you don’t want your own tight finances to hold back the rest of the bridal party. When you say “Thanks, but no thanks,” ask the couple how else you can help them on their special day. Maybe you won’t be one of six ladies in pink this time, but you can still help out with the guest book, or setting up for the reception. There are so many things going on to plan a wedding. If you chose to take a smaller, less expensive role, you will still be a huge help to the bride and groom and show them you care.

9. Sometimes, you cannot say no (and you don’t want to!). There are still plenty of ways to plan great bridal party activities at a fraction of the cost of traditional plans. Goodbye Vegas, hello good old fashioned girl’s nights in. Plan a slumber party with a Sex and the City marathon and homemade cosmos. Men can go camping or just find less expensive bars. Spending time with friends is what it’s all about, not spending money with friends. Personalizing the event and focusing on what’s important, friendship, will make a more memorable (and economical) party.

10. One area where you can save a lot of money is clothing. If you are not the one in white (and even if you are) you do not need to be spending an arm and a leg to look good. For ladies, a simple, inexpensive black dress can go a long way. If you are worried about wearing the same dress multiple times, make it new by dressing it up. Different jewelry, shoes, wraps and accessories can make your little black dress into as many different little black dresses as you need. Another option that is good advice for any time of the year is shopping in your friend’s closets. If you all have a few weddings to go to this summer, and everyone owns one great dress, take turns!

If you are a man looking for a good suit that will last you at least one year, check out local department stores. You don’t need to get into a Hugo Boss to look like a sharp wedding guest. For example, Target has very nice black suits for under $100. No one will be able to tell that it’s from Target and you will have done your wallet a favor.


One of the reasons why weddings are so expensive is because of the “spare no expense” mentality that surrounds them. We let our emotions drive our wallets and we end up broke by the end of the season. These tips are intended to provide some creative alternatives that will allow you, as a guest, to make the wedding day special and valuable, without depleting your savings. We recognize that some of these tips may seem controversial because they are a violation of modern wedding etiquette. But remember that etiquette is always about giving the best of yourself and having grace, it’s not about how much you spend. These tips will allow you to save money and show the happy couple you care.

Please respond and let us know your own tips for surviving the wedding season. We would love to hear them!

1 comment:

Treasurebox said...

This is really helpful for all of us. Thanks for sharing this awasome news with us. Treasurebox is one of the best store which provide their
customers all the items at low rates.