During the 10 years after you graduate from college, you will go to more weddings than any other period in your life. The average age to get married is 28, but if you are like many of my friends, you are getting married by 25, and having babies by 28!
Weddings are a wonderful time and a great chance to celebrate love, and reconnect with old friends. They are a chance to get dressed up, travel, and make some memories. They can also be very expensive!
We see articles all the time that bemoan the high cost of a wedding (which has risen to $28,500 recently!). However, lost in the shuffle are the costs of simply attending a wedding.
Attending an out-of-state wedding will involve travel costs, hotel costs, food costs, a wedding present, drinks after the rehearsal dinner, and possibly some new clothes. You could easily spend $200 to $500 depending on the location of the wedding and how far you have to travel.
Let's also not forget that at some point in your life, likely in the 10 years after you graduate from college, that you will be asked to be a groomsman or a bridesmaid in a wedding. While a worthwhile commitment, this brings with it a whole new level of financial obligation.
I was recently asked to be in a wedding for a childhood friend. Here are my actual costs.
- Tux: $180
- Hotel: $180
- Travel: $75
- Food: $60
- Wedding gift: $50
- Drinks after the rehearsal dinner: $10
- Bachelor Party: $200 (we all split renting a cabin for a weekend . . . )
- Total Cost: $755!
If you are a female and asked to be a bridesmaid, your costs can easily be much higher.
My buddy's fiancee also asked my daughter to be a flower girl, which added $60 for a dress and shoes.
From talking to my friends, and from other weddings I have been a groomsman for, I would say that this is typical. You can expect to pay $500 plus when you are asked to be in someone's wedding.
Can You Simply Say “No”?
I suppose you always have the option to decline, based on financial reasons. However, your friend won't take that very well. They will likely either make fun of you for being cheap, or get angry and hurt that you do not value their friendship enough to be a party of their big day.
Neither of these options is satisfying, so let's figure out a way to avoid having to make these difficult decisions and properly budget for your inevitable wedding attendance.
Budgeting for Friends' Weddings
Here is my strategy. It is very simple, but often the best financial strategies are simple.
I use an Capital One 360 savings account and deposit $75 per month into this saving account each month. I started this when I got my first job out of college. Over the course of one year I save $900 and should be able to easily afford any wedding commitments I am asked to attend. When a wedding obligation arises, I simply withdraw the money from this account to pay for the wedding expenses.
For a while, I was side hustling to fill this account. If you don't want to find a job online, you can simply budget for it out of your existing income.
Planning ahead for large expenses like this make it much easier to enjoy the experience. You won't constantly worry about all of the money you are spending if you have already budgeted months — even years — ahead of time for this.
The best part of this strategy is that the money you are saving is not simply lost. It is sitting in a savings account waiting for you when you need it. If you don't ever need it, then you can simply transfer that money to a different objective and use it where it is needed (like a down payment on a house).
I would also caution you not to blow the money on trivial wedding expenses; i.e., don't buy everyone a round of drinks at the bar just because you have money set aside to cover the cost. This is not a free pass to lose all sense of being smart with your money. It is simply a way to anticipate the costs in your future, and properly plan ahead for these costs.
After all, if you get married one day you will be asking your wedding party to do the same thing. You want all of your closest friends to be by your side. Don't let improper budgeting stand in the way.
How do you budget for friends' weddings?