I’m in my late 20s, and it’s that time of year when I’m invited to a bunch of weddings. This summer alone, I have seven (yes, SEVEN) weddings, most of which require air travel and hotels. I am currently working, but I am very much underemployed and do not make enough money to cover all of the travel costs as well as a gift for each couple. I am also in two of the weddings, and am invited to the bachelorette party and bridal shower, which means more money and gifts. What should I do? I’m trying to eliminate credit card debt, not add to it!
-Can’t Hear the Bells, Oregon
We’ve all been through that in our late 20s. Everyone is getting married, and soon, everyone will be having kids. But rest assured that the wedding frenzy will be over soon, as your friends marry off and get older. Before spending money on a wedding, you should consider how close you are to the couple and also what your own particular financial situation is.
Don’t feel pressured to attend weddings you cannot afford. These are meant to be celebrations of friendship and love, but you shouldn’t deplete your savings or develop credit problems for them. If you choose to not attend the wedding because of your financial situation, you’re not alone – a recent American Consumer Credit Counseling poll showed that 43 percent of people have done the same.
According to a study by American Express, the average person spends $539 on every wedding that they attend. Adding in the cost of the bachelorette parties, bridesmaid dresses, and showers, it’s significantly more. TheKnot estimates that the average bridesmaid will spend $1,385 per wedding. If you’re in two of the weddings, you’re looking at spending just under $5500 this year.
Just be honest and upfront with the bride/groom and let them know that as much as you would like to be present for their special day, you simply cannot afford the expense. If that’s not an option and you must attend, minimize gift expenses by purchasing the smaller items on their gift registry, or provide a smaller token than usual. Many guests feel that they need to “cover the cost of their plates,” but a small thoughtful gesture is just as appreciated as a big check.
Do you have a special craft skill? Maybe you could make something, like a quilt, to commemorate the wedding. Even a small household item, like a beautiful picture frame or photo album, could make an appropriate gift. The whole point of the gift is to celebrate the love and union of the special couple.
You can reduce lodging costs by sharing rooms, or staying at a cheaper hotel/motel. Sometimes hotel blocks are the cheaper option, but sometimes there are other lower-end places to stay in the area. Don’t feel pressure to stay at the designated room block if it is out of your price range.
Just remember that even if you do decline the invitation, you should still send a small token or gift.
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