Words by Lisa Hughes
November 4th, 2016
With the average Irish wedding costing around €24k, including the honeymoon, weddings are big business. But it’s not just a wallet-buster for the bride and groom; being a wedding guest also involves dropping some serious dough.
For guests, weddings usually mean a trip down the country, an overpriced hotel room or even a flight abroad. As winter weddings grow in popularity, couples are choosing to get hitched in sunnier climes or even have the hen do abroad. Great for your tan, bad for your bank balance.
When you factor in the cost of the hen party, gift, outfit, hair, tan, travel and drinks, you could be looking at €400 a wedding (or more if it’s overseas) and most of us have at least one to attend each year. But there are small ways you can save on being a wedding guest, without looking like the daughter of Scrooge.
1. Plan ahead and book early. Sorry to sound like your mum but leaving things to the last minute rarely works out well for your pocket. Everything from your gift to your travel and accommodation should be bought or booked as early as you can. Good old-fashioned travel agents are still the best for negotiating bundles and getting the best rates for groups of over 10 people. On the downside, group travel usually means dropping a deposit early so make sure there’s no flaky friends in the group or you could be left out of pocket. On the ground, ask friends about carpooling to the wedding, reception or the airport to cut down on taxis or car rental.
2. Pitch in on a big gift. Every gift registry has at least one major ‘dream item’ so you could always pitch in with another friend and cross this present off the list. Even though it’s a shared gift, it’s still a splurge so don’t worry, you won’t look stingy.
3. Share your dresses. Renting a dress instead of forking out for a new one for each wedding is a great money-saver but another option is to rotate your dresses with your friends. Provided you don’t all share the exact same circle of friends who are getting hitched sometime soon – and provided you’re all roughly the same dress size – this is an easy way to get hold of wedding-appropriate looks without the price tag. And it’s a great excuse to play dress up.
4. Look outside the hotel box. Research the city or town where the wedding is taking place and look for cosy guesthouses, traditional B&Bs or Airbnb options nearby. Make sure you know exactly where your accommodation is before you click ‘book’ though, because if you end up splashing the cash on a lengthy cab journey, it’ll be just as costly as the fancy hotel in the end.
5. Don’t go. Controversial choice, we know, but just because you’ve been invited, does not mean you have no choice in going. It really depends on whose wedding it is and your relationship to them. If it’s a sibling or BFF you’ve known since you were 4, it’s a given but if it’s a school friend you haven’t seen in 20 years or an office colleague you’ve spoken to twice in the elevator, it’s perfectly OK to politely decline (with a pretty card or small gift, of course).
6. Get crafty. DIY is no longer the domain of kids TV shows. Personalising a gift, whether it’s an original print (if you’re artsy) or putting together a deluxe basket of goodies, is a more memorable gift than mindlessly snapping up a pair of champagne flutes with ‘Mr & Mrs’ inscribed on them. Look to Pinterest for inspiration and channel your inner Kirstie Allsop. Not only is a handmade gift less costly but it’s more thoughtful and that sentiment’s priceless.
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