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Dear Andile: how to manage the cost of attending weddings

10 September 2015
3 minute read

manage cost of attending weddings

Dear Andile

I was hoping that you could help me with a dilemma. My friends and I are mostly ino ur late twenties, and for the last couple of years, there have been many, many weddings in our circle. This has been happening at around the same time as I’ve been trying to become more financially intelligent – control my debts, start saving and hopefully one day buy a property.

But now I have a problem. The next three weddings (summer is wedding season, don’t you know?) are “destination weddings”, which means that things are getting expensive pretty quickly. Even if I accept not buying myself a new frock for each event (I know, right?), I have to cover transport, accommodation and eating out, which can quickly add up. And that’s before I’ve even forked out for the wedding gifts.

Obviously, you can’t tell me whether or not I should go to these weddings. But is there something I’m missing here? How can other people in their late twenties afford to go to three or four destination weddings a year? What am I doing wrong? How can I fix this?

Single and centless

Dear Centless

First of all, congratulations on making a concerted effort to be financially sensible. We hope that you’re achieving your goals and addressing all your financial challenges.

Now, on to those weddings…

Your first question was how your other friends can afford to attend every wedding on the summer circuit. I can only guess that they’re either going into debt, splurging on weddings instead of saving – or simply that they earn a lot more than you do.

As for deciding whether you should attend, let me let you in on a little secret: one of the reasons that people have destination weddings is that it’s cheaper for them because lots of people will politely decline. So don’t feel bad if you have to say no for financial reasons – it’s nothing to be ashamed of and your friends will understand. And if they don’t, well… are they really friends?

It is, however, a nice gesture to recognise their union and thank them for their invitation by offering to take them out for a drink or to cook them a nice meal when they are back from their wedding adventure. Be prepared to look suitably impressed at all their beautiful photos. 

However, if you would like to go to at least some of the destination weddings, and you can afford to take the cost of one or two trips out of your savings, there are a few ways that you can make it all a little easier on your wallet.

Obviously, you have to decide which wedding you would most like to attend. You can make this decision based on whether the bridal couple are particularly close friends of yours, or, more selfishly (and that’s OK), based on how much you’d like to visit the destination. The timing of the wedding is obviously also a factor when making your decision.

Then do what you can to control the costs of attending the wedding itself. After having forked out to be at the event, you don’t need to buy the most expensive item on the wedding registry, or you can even select a small but sweet gift that you’ve thought of (or made) yourself. You can also split the costs with a budget-conscious friend, so ask around.

Check out the destination and make plans, there is often a special or a deal being advertised when it comes to travelling, you just have to look for it. You don’t have to stay in the recommended accommodation or participate in all the pre and post-wedding festivities. Find out if you can share transport with a friend, stay in cheaper, self-catering accommodation or book a cheap flight. You’re paying to be there, so do it on your own terms.

As you’ve already mentioned, it’s a good idea to skip the beauty bonanza of new clothes, a mani, a pedi, a wax and a hairdo for the wedding. If you can get yourself out of the house looking human most days, you can do it for a wedding.

Remember that there’s no rule that says you have to spend money to fulfil your friends’ wedding fantasies. Work out your priorities and your budget, and then politely inform your friends of your intentions.

Yours in financial health and prosperity

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