Celebrating the union of a happy couple is a joyous occasion, but for guests, wedding-related expenses can quickly add up as the big day approaches. Guests have requisite wedding showers, stag nights, rehearsal parties, wedding gifts, outfits, potentially travel and accommodations if a destination wedding, to budget for. A recent TD bank survey found four in ten Canadians expect to attend at least one wedding this year, and one in seven will attend as a member of the wedding party, which can put added stress on the wallet and leave many navigating awkward social pressures to go ‘all out’.
According to the TD survey, one in five people attending weddings this year say they are not well prepared for the associated costs and expect them to be a considerable drain on their household budget. Almost half of those attending a wedding this year expect to spend between $100 and $500, but one in eight said they plan to spend more than $1,000, a figure that jumps to one in four if someone is a member of the wedding party.
“Rest assured, with some advance planning and smart strategies, it’s possible to navigate the pressures of wedding season without blowing the budget,” said Raymond Chun, Senior Vice President of Everyday Banking at TD. “Weddings are one of life’s biggest milestones, and celebrating with family and friends is important, but that doesn’t mean good financial habits have to fly out the window once an invite is accepted.”
To keep costs manageable, Chun suggests reviewing your budget as soon as the wedding invitation arrives. Think about how much it will cost to attend, especially if the wedding involves travelling to a destination, and whether the spend fits within the budget before committing to attend. Then, identify what the comfortable spend is on the other associated costs like gifts, parties, travel and attire.
“Armed with this information, work backwards to put together a savings plan,” said Chun. “If the wedding takes place in six months, setting aside $16 a week can be easier than trying to come up with $400 overnight.”
Etiquette expert Louise Fox agrees that planning goes a long way in making the wedding season both affordable and enjoyable, especially when it comes to gift giving.
“There is no general rule around what one should spend on a gift, so there shouldn’t be any pressure to spend more than you can afford,” said Fox. “You may be inclined to spend more on a close friend or relative than on a couple you’ve only known a short time, but it is up to the guest to determine what is appropriate based on the nature of the relationship. Remember that this special day is to celebrate the union and future life together of the couple and the gift is an expression of a guest’s best wishes for them.”
For expenses such as gifts and sometimes even travel, Chun suggests that redeeming points collected through a reward credit card can help off-set at least some of the travel or wedding gift costs.
“Depending on the reward program of your credit card, travel rewards or cash back rebates can help cover costs associated with gifts, flights, hotels and car rentals,” said Chun. “If that’s a benefit of your credit card, it’s a good idea to use your credit card for all your everyday purchases to help the rewards accumulate more quickly. Just remember to pay off the balance in full on or before the due date to avoid interest charges on your purchases.”
Sometimes, an honest assessment of the costs involved in attending a wedding may mean declining the invitation. The TD survey showed that 17 per cent have made up an excuse to decline a wedding invitation because they couldn’t afford to attend, but that figure jumped to 24 per cent among those who had been asked to be in a wedding party this year.
“It’s not impolite to decline a wedding invitation as long as you don’t wait until the last minute,” said Fox. “If you are going to celebrate the new couple’s life together, you can do so in ways other than attending the wedding. If you wish to still acknowledge the big day, sending flowers to the wedding venue or a congratulatory card is always appreciated.”