Please don’t go broke attending weddings

(NerdWallet) – Of course, you want to feel joy and love when you receive a wedding invitation. But a small postcard or e-mail can also contain expensive pressure charges.

Maybe you need to provide travel and accommodation, buy gifts and clothes, or cancel work. Or maybe you have the honor – and extra expense – of being at the wedding party.

This could soon become your reality, as wedding season approaches and events that have been postponed or rescheduled due to COVID-19 reappear on the calendar.

Before you worry about those upcoming weddings, reassure yourself with Crystal L. Bailey, director of the Etiquette Institute of Washington, DC: “Your loved one wouldn’t want you to spend in a way that would put you in trouble. financially.”

For less hassle and more celebrations, here’s how to handle the financial burden of attending weddings.

Check your finances – and your feelings

As you learn about upcoming weddings, “plan your year,” says Bailey.

This planning is useful if you are invited to several weddings, bridal showers, bachelor or bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners. If you’re inclined to say yes to everything, this map might show how much time (and money) “everything” will cost.

Also check your bank account balance or budget to understand what is available to spend after considering needs. Ideally, this financial reality check helps you prioritize spending, says Landis Bejar, a New York-based licensed mental health counselor and founder of AisleTalk, which offers therapy for people getting married.

For example, you may realize that you cannot host the bachelorette party out of state, but you can attend the wedding.

If you still feel pressured to overspend, “take inventory of where that expectation is coming from,” says Bejar. “It can usually help you navigate what’s important in your decision-making.”

For example, maybe this reflection shows that you just yearn to get out of the house and party after so much quarantine. So you prioritize the wedding and you feel less pressure to buy a new outfit for it.

Find ways to cut costs

Prioritizing your values ​​can help you save money. So if being present at the wedding is most important, you may be able to cut spending in these categories:

  • Accommodation and travel: If possible, choose cheaper accommodation than the couple suggested, or crash with a local connection. Share the costs with other travelers by sharing a vacation rental or driving together. Pay fewer nights by skipping the night before dinner and arriving the day of the wedding.
  • Stag and hen parties, showers and other related events: it’s okay to politely convey these events if you give a lot of notice.
  • Gifts: Matt J. Goren, a Chicago-based Certified Financial Planner, simply suggests giving what you can, which will be easier to determine after checking your finances. “If someone thinks you’re a bad friend because you only gave them what you could afford, then they’re not a good friend,” says Goren, director of the CFP program at American College. of Financial Services. .

Consider refusing

The most effective way to reduce wedding costs? Decline the invitation. That’s fine, especially if you’re more of an acquaintance than a close friend or family member, or don’t want to go.

If you must pass up the wedding of someone you are close to, Bailey recommends calling or writing a note. Thank them for the invitation and consider sending a gift.

Bejar suggests seeing if you can participate in other ways. For example, if you can’t make it to the destination wedding or shower, maybe you can have champagne delivered to the couple.

Remember: If you can’t afford the event, “it doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend or a bad person,” says Goren.

If you wanted to go but couldn’t find a relatively small amount of money — say, for a local event — try to view the situation as a “red flag,” he says. After all, how would you handle an urgent expense, like an emergency room visit? Use that experience as motivation to build financial security, Goren says, so you can afford emergencies and weddings.

You can also track your money so you know where it’s going and explore ways to spend less and earn more.

Talk to engaged couples

Suppose you are close to the bride and cannot afford the marriage or a related obligation, such as being in the wedding. “The worst thing you can do is let fears of money outweigh friendship,” Goren says.

So talk about your money problem with the bride or groom – shortly, ideally months before the event.

“Good friends will understand if you’re honest and transparent,” Bejar says. Avoid complaining or making small talk about yourself. Instead, ask what’s most important to your loved one, then brainstorm and eventually compromise.

For example, perhaps your friend appreciates your presence at the wedding the most and is fine with you being the bridesmaid (and any hair, makeup, and dress expenses that may come with it). ).

Whether you find solutions or not, Bejar suggests recognizing the importance of this step. “Newlyweds want to feel special,” she says.

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