5 Creative Savings Tips When Attending a Fall Wedding

Does it feel like your calendar in the next few months is inundated with wedding festivities? Don’t worry — you’re not alone. The 2019 Newlywed Report released by WeddingWire found that the fall season is the most popular time of year for couples to tie the knot.

Although the happy couple is paying a pretty penny to host their celebration, wedding guests also foot a hefty bill. How much does it cost to attend a wedding? According to a new report by Bankrate, wedding guests spend an average of $372 to $728 depending on how close you are to the couple.

If you have a handful of weddings to attend this fall, you might feel the financial pressure on your budget. Fortunately, there’s a way to celebrate these blissful unions without sacrificing your rent payment or savings. Here’s how to save money as a wedding guest this fall.

1. Rent formal attire

With the colder fall season, you might find that the required wedding attire is less bohemian and more black tie. Instead of buying new cocktail dresses or evening gowns for every wedding, rent one instead. Clothing rental companies, like Rent the Runway, let you borrow formal attire for a few days at a fraction of the cost of buying a new outfit.

If you’re on the fence about renting, stick to versatile basics, like a little black dress (LBD) or well-tailored suit as your wedding go-to outfit. Use different accessories to freshen up the look. An old bridesmaid dress from earlier in the year can even make a comeback as an evening dress for a formal affair.

2. Offer your talent

If the gift registry at Bloomie’s is way outside of your budget, see if the couple can use your help with the wedding details. If you have graphic design skills, for example, you could offer to design their wedding invitations or wedding programs in place of a traditional gift.

Just make sure you know the time commitment you’re getting yourself into. The last thing you need is adding endless hours of work to your plate and risking a delay in getting back to the future newlyweds. 

3. Chip in on a group gift

Procrastinating on the gift purchase may result in losing out on low- and mid-range registry options. But you can spin this into a savings opportunity by going in on a big gift with a few other wedding guests. 

Reach out to a few other budget-conscious friends who are also invited to the wedding. Establish the individual and group budget, and snag a gift that would’ve otherwise sat unclaimed in the registry. That fancy $400 Nest security camera set for the happy couple’s dream home? Done — with a little help from your friends!

Zola is a wedding registry site that lets couples set up a “Group Gift” option in their registry. Guests can then contribute a cash gift toward a portion of the item’s cost until the gift is fully funded. The best part is that even if a gift is only partially funded, (e.g. $230 of total group contributions on a $300 registry item), the newlyweds still receive the funds toward that item.

4. One-on-ones with the bride or groom

Real talk — bachelor and bachelorette parties are getting more and more elaborate. It’s no longer just one night out as a last hoorah with friends. Destination parties to Miami or Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, often spanning a weekend or entire week, are the latest trend. 

Related: 5 Travel Hacks to Save Money on Your Next Trip

And that’s not including other events, like engagement parties, showers, and the actual wedding day itself. Don’t feel pressured to say “yes” to every activity leading up to the big day. If you can’t participate in the extras, there are a few ways to your support and love. For example, you might explain your financial situation to the bride or groom, and offer to treat them to a one-on-one celebratory brunch, baseball game, or spa day in town, instead. 

5. Take advantage of credit card bonuses

If you opened a travel credit card this summer or plan to soon, you might have time to take advantage of the generous sign-up rewards bonuses. The best rewards credit cards give you a welcome bonus after you spend a certain minimum on a new account within a certain time (usually within three months).

Once you’ve earned the bonus, you can use it to pay for a portion or all of your travel expenses, if you’re traveling in for a wedding. 

The caveat: make sure you’re not making the mistake of overspending to earn the bonus. This strategy can help you save money if you already planned on making certain purchases on your card and can pay the monthly statement in full.

Attending a wedding doesn’t have to break the bank. At the end of the day, your support — whether you're celebrating with the couple or sending your love from afar — is the most meaningful gesture of all.

Jennifer Calonia