Don’t Go Broke This Wedding Season

As of today, my husband and I have been invited to two baby showers, one diaper party, three wedding showers, two stag and does, one bachelor party (him), three bachelorette parties (me), and seven weddings (no gender reveal parties, thank God. What is that). If you are anywhere between the ages of say, 25 and 35 – your summer likely looks similar. ‘Tis the season, after all.

My point here is not to humblebrag about being invited to stuff.  My point is that there has to be a way to a) have friends b) celebrate your friends’ milestones and c) not declare bankruptcy, all at the same time.

If you have ever been invited to or ever attended one of these events, you know they can get costly. In 2015, Canadian wedding guests could expect to spend an average of $673 USD per wedding. Just to emphasize how much that actually is, with today’s exchange rate, that equates to $905 out of your Canadian wallet – just to attend one wedding. Sadly, that doesn’t even include things like engagement parties or bachelor parties – that’s another $335 dollars per event.

True story: I have never said no to a wedding. (Actually half true: I did say no once, but only because I was going to another wedding that day) I love weddings. I’m that guest that awkward-white-girl dances the moment the music starts, until the lights go back on (I kill it when “Shout” comes on), I cry at all the speeches, and I will notice and compliment you on the little details that you slaved over for 18 months. Seriously – you want me at your wedding.

So yes, I will attend the shit out of your wedding. But I won’t go broke doing it. So for you, fellow wedding invitees, how do you navigate the treacherous yet super super fun waters of weddings and baby showers?

Pool your resources.

Find other friends and family members who are also going to the wedding and go in on a gift with them. That way you can buy the giant gifts that couples register for, thinking no one will buy them, you look super baller and you don’t have to break the bank doing it. You can also split hotel rooms or car pool with other wedding guests to save some money if the wedding is out of town. Use services like AirBnB and uber to save on transportation costs, and sign up on to get flight alerts – they’ll let you know when flights to your destination go on sale.

Wear something you already own.

Interestingly, the amount spent on gifts is actually going down while the amount spent on dressing up for a wedding is going up (what does that say about us?) So don’t be that statistic – wear something you already own. Instead of buying a new dress, pull out that dress from 3 years ago and have it tailored. I promise you, it will look like a new dress. Nobody cares about repeat outfits – and if they do, you can wipe your tears with all the bills you saved.

 Shop smart for gifts.

Shop early! Generally, you have a pretty good head start – you likely know at least a couple of months ahead of time if you’re going to be attending a wedding, or if a friend or relative is expecting a baby. Hit up the wedding or baby registry as soon as you have the info to check out the kinds of things the couple/parent wants and to have the pick of the options. Then, watch the sales! Stores like Hudson’s Bay often have steep discounts on home goods, dish ware, luggage, bedding – the kinds of things people register for, so start early and don’t pull the trigger until you’re sure you’re getting the best deal.

Don’t limit yourself to just the registry either. Some of my favourite wedding gifts were from guests who made the gifts themselves. If you aren’t the DIY or brick-and-mortar store type, buy online and use coupon code search engines like honey (if you install the extension with my referral code, I get a credit! to take advantage of any offers or deals.

Give the gift of friendship.

Cheesy, right? But seriously. Brides, grooms, and new parents all need support. Planning a wedding is not easy. Neither is creating a tiny human being. Offer to help with DIY wedding details, or if you are able to provide a service like hairstyling, photography or tailoring, offer up some of your time or product. For the new parents, you can help cook meals, do laundry, wash dishes, walk dogs – every little bit helps in those early days. And receiving the helping-hand and kindness of a great friend is always better than getting three blenders in a row.

Use rewards.

Take advantage of your points cards like HBC rewards, Shoppers Optimum points, Air Miles, Aeroplan, and credit card points or travel miles to shop for gifts or travel for events. You can add to your points by signing up for services like Asking Canadians, which lets you complete surveys in exchange for rewards at their partner institutions (HBC, Aeroplan and PetroCanada are a few of the program offerings).

Send regrets.

I know, I said I wouldn’t say “just say no”.  If you want to go to the wedding or feel you need to or else your mom will harass you, then say no to all the “pre-wedding events”. Decline the invite to the engagement party or the shower. If it’s a baby shower, don’t feel guilty saying no. If you do feel guilty (this is always me), send a small gift. but know that etiquette expert Emily Post says that if you’re not attending, you don’t have to send a shower gift. Unfortunately, the same is not true for weddings: etiquette says if you can’t go, you should still send some sort of gift.

Are life celebrations filling up your social life too? How do you save money?

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