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Save Money As A Wedding Guest

wedding guests with bride taking a selfie

In tough economic times, or just busy wedding seasons, many people weigh the costs of attending weddings carefully, especially when faced with multiple invitations and limited cash. Read our tips for saving money as a wedding guest so you can focus on the celebration rather than your pocketbook.

Stick to a Budget

Before accepting a wedding invitation, take a close look at your finances and determine whether you are able to attend. Consider hidden costs of attending a wedding that may not be immediately apparent. Be sure to consider any other weddings you're in, or plan to attend, during the year. Then, establish a wedding season budget.

Pre-wedding Parties

You may have budgeted for the wedding, but don't forget the hidden costs of pre-wedding parties. Guests and attendants typically can expect to be invited to an engagement party, a bridal shower and/or bachelor and bachelorette parties. Save money on pre-wedding presents by:

  • Pooling your money with a friend or two
  • Bringing a thoughtful homemade gift
  • Making food or a drink for the event
  • Sticking to fun, inexpensive gifts for bachelor and bachelorette parties

If you are an attendant in the wedding, it may fall on you to throw a pre-wedding party. First, be honest with the couple about the number of people you can accommodate. Next, be realistic about your budget.

If you can’t afford to spend big bucks on a pre-wedding party, opt for a more casual celebration instead:

  • Host the event at your home.
  • Invite guests to bring food and drinks to share.
  • Serve appetizers and dessert instead of an entire meal.

Wedding Gifts

In most cases, the bride and groom will be registered for a wide variety of gifts at different stores. Choose a gift from the registry that you comfortably can afford.

If you're struggling to find an item that fits your budget:

  • Consider buying the couple a gift card at one of the stores of choice.
  • Pool money with another wedding guest.
  • Offer the bride and groom your help in planning the big day by donating your time or services.
  • Make a memorable homemade gift.

Wedding Attire

Buying a brand-new outfit for a wedding and partaking in any pre-wedding pampering can prove costly. If you are invited to be an attendant:

  • Be upfront with the bride and groom about what you can afford before you become locked into a pricey investment.
  • Have a friend do your hair and make-up instead of having it done professionally.
  • Don't be afraid to decline any extra beauty services that might run up your budget.

For female guests faced with several weddings and a limited wardrobe:

  • Choose a single outfit and accessorize it differently for each wedding.
  • Keep an eye out for sales and shop early to avoid last-minute decisions.
  • Consider borrowing clothes or accessories from a friend.

Travel and Other Expenses

The key to saving money on travel expenses is to book your reservations early. As soon as you receive a “save-the-date” card in the mail, start looking for deals on airfare, rental cars and hotel accommodations.


Compare rates at discount travel websites such as Travelocity® or KayakTM*. Traveling off-peak hours and days may help lower an airfare. Be sure to consider the cost of checking your baggage.


Ask the bride and groom whether they have reserved a block of rooms at a hotel near the reception site. If their choice is too pricey, research other nearby accommodations. You may land a better deal by opting to stay at a separate hotel from the wedding party. Also, consider staying with family and friends.


Before booking a rental car, ask whether the bride and groom will be providing a shuttle service for wedding guests. If not, consider carpooling with other guests or taking public transportation.

Child Care

Child care is one of the biggest hidden costs of  wedding attendance. Don't forget to include child care costs such as hiring a babysitter or nanny into your spending plan. If the bride and groom have relatives and friends with young children, they may be offering child care to their guests.

Finally, remember that being present at your loved ones’ celebrations is what matters most. If you factor in all the costs of attending and then adhere to your budget, you can focus on enjoying the wedding instead of worrying about how much it cost to get there.

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]