Post written and provided by Andrea Woroch.
If you think wedding season ended in June, think again; the months of August through October represent some of the most popular months to tie the knot. The average wedding guest spends a record $592 each time they attend a friend’s nuptials, and that doesn’t even include the cost of a gift.What’s more, a survey from American Express found the collective cost of hotels, transportation, bachelor and bachelorette parties, clothing and personal grooming has soared by 75 per cent in the past two years.
Since 2012, I’ve attended 14 weddings in 12 cities, 4 states and one international destination, plus 5 bridal showers! To keep from going bankrupt, I devised this fool proof guest-of-wedding survival guide with tips on how to save on gifts, travel, hotels and attire.
TRAVEL With an average cost of over $300 per person, travel represents a big chunk of your budget as a wedding guest.
Don’t assume the group code is the best rate. The hotel rate offered by the bride and groom is not always the best rate. You may score a cheaper rate for the same hotel or one within a few miles of the reception by checking comparison sites like Hotels.com, or using the HotelTonight app for a last-minute booking. Recruit friends and family to split a condo or home and rent from the owner directly via sites like VRBO.com to find the best prices.
Book through warehouse or credit card travel sites. Costco Travel will help you score car rentals, flights and hotels for up to 40-percent less! You can also book travel through your credit card’s reward program for up to 20-percent off airfare and other accommodations.
GIFTS According to a registry study from The Knot, on average friends spend $79 on the bride and groom’s present while family members spend on average of $146.
Use discount gift cards. Whether you’re planning to give a gift card or have your eye on something else, using discount gift cards can save you a bundle. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com offer gift cards for less than face value to popular wedding gift stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma. For instance, you can save up to 14-percent off Macy’s gift cards to score a $100 gift card for a little over $87.
Redeem rewards. Rewards from credit cards can be redeemed for gift cards, which you can use as a wedding gift or towards the cost of a wedding gift. You can also redeem miles for free or discounted flight to the destination if airfare is needed, or towards gifts available from your credit card’s reward marketplace. Another great idea is to gift miles to the bride and groom, which they can use toward their honeymoon or a future trip together.
Don’t buy off the registry. The registry is a great reference point to see what the bride and groom want, but you may find cheaper prices for desired items elsewhere. Check Costco and other warehouse clubs for deals of up to 30-percent off small appliances. Online sites like Overstock have 6-quart KitchenAid mixers for $289 compared to over $400 at Williams-Sonoma! Finally, use coupons to offset the cost of your gift. For example, you can get 20-percent off small appliances from Best Buy using the free Coupon Sherpa mobile app.
Shop the dollar store. You’d think something as basic as a greeting card or wrapping paper wouldn’t cost much, and yet the average Hallmark card will run you over $4. Add in the cost of a gift bag, wrapping paper or packing tissue and you’ve just tacked on an extra $20 to an already pricey gift. Skip grocery and department store gift aisles and head to the dollar store for 50-cent greeting cards and $1 wrapping supplies.
ATTIRE While the wedding party is expected to shell out big bucks for their attire, guests also spend an average of $168 on new apparel and accessories.
Rent black-tie attire. If the wedding is a black-tie event and it’s been ages since you fit into your College Gala gown, you’ll find prices for fancy frocks at stores like Nordstrom for well over $200. Considering you may have several other weddings to attend this year, buying a brand-new dress for a one-night affair is a total waste of money. Check out RentTheRunway.com to find high-end apparel for bargain-basement prices. For instance, you can rent a Badgley Mischka gown for just $80 even though it retails for $795.
Buy a pre-owned suit or dress. This is especially smart for a bridesmaid who has so many other expenses to worry about! You can save up to 70-percent off attire, accessories and more by shopping pre-owned goods. Speciality sites like BridesmaidTrade.com offer gently-used bridesmaid dresses (as well as the option to sell your bridesmaid dress after the event), and BravoBride.com sells everything from pre-owned wedding gowns to cocktail dresses to tuxedos. Sell any bridesmaid dresses you already own as credit toward a new frock.