Long Wedding Season
With the warmer weather quickly approaching, so too is the season of confetti, open bars and the chicken dance – you know, Wedding Season! My girlfriend strongly believes that not only do we have to go to every single one of these weddings (seriously, one is for a colleague she barely knows), but that we need also to give a cash gift covering the cost of the meal at each event. I’m a little worried about what wedding season is going to do to our budget, and am hoping you may be able to provide a little advice?
I completely understand your concern. When it rains, it pours – and it certainly seems like it’s raining wedding invitations on you right now. Seven weddings in one summer is lot for anyone to handle, and when you are trying to be budget conscious it can certainly give your finances a case of cold feet!
Let’s start with the obvious – why do you need to go to all seven? It doesn’t sound like these invitations have all come from close friends or families, so why is there an obligation to go? My advice to you is to sit down with your girlfriend (and the invitations) and prioritize which weddings are important to you.
Start with the ones that either of you may be taking part in. If you have already agreed to be a groomsman (or bridesmaid) you’re out of luck and need to start budgeting for the gift. I would say the same is true for anyone that is considered a close family member (sorry, you can’t skip out on her sister’s wedding). Otherwise, rank the invitations by importance. One barometer of importance is whether or not you will still be close with the bride in groom in a few years. Will you still be friends when they celebrate their 10th anniversary? If the answer is yes, then accept the invitation – but if we are talking work acquaintance it may be best to send your regrets.
As for gift giving, I am going to quote another online expert – Emily Post. “This modern myth that you are required to spend as much as the host spent per plate causes considerable anxiety for guests, but is simply untrue. The amount you spend is strictly a matter of your budget, how close you are to the bride and groom, and what you think is an appropriate gift.”
So there you have it – the leading expert on wedding etiquette also believes that wedding gift giving should not require you to break the bank. So how do you make the most out of wedding season without leaving your finances at the alter? Here are a few suggestions for budget bliss:
Budget– There is no way you are going to make it through the wedding season without following a strict budget. Before you return a single reply card, make a list of how much each wedding is realistically going to cost you. Include expenses such as travel, accommodations, dry cleaning, attire and gifts. Once you know how much a summer of wedded bliss is going to run you, take a look at your household budget to see where this money is going to come from.
Buy from the registry– While it is not necessary to purchase a gift from the bride and groom’s registry, this is a convenient place to find budget savings. Not only will you be purchasing a gift the happy couple has personally chosen, but you may find it on sale, or for a price that is lower than the amount you budgeted for.
Group giving– Are other family members or friends attending one of the weddings this summer? If so, you may want to consider going in together on a group gift. By pooling your resources, you may be able to purchase a more elaborate (or meaningful) gift, while at the same time saving a little cash.
Offer your talents– Do you have any secret talents? Are you good with a camera? An “Ace of Cakes” in the kitchen? A Monet when it comes to floral arrangements? Why not offer your talents in lieu of a gift. There is a good chance the bride and groom are also trying to cut wedding costs, and this is a great way to save you both a little money.
Regardless of how you decide to approach your very busy wedding season, you need to keep one thing in mind. You were most likely invited to each of these weddings because the bride and groom want you to share in their special day. So if you manage your money wisely and plan out your expenses in advance, your budget will be the last thing on your mind when you are doing the chicken-dance this summer.
Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).
If you have a question about a debt management program or just about finance in general, Jeff is here to help. Send us an email with your question to [email protected]. You’ll get the expert advice you need and your question may be featured here on our website.