A couple of years back, I flew to Paris for the wedding of a dear friend. I spent untold amounts on plane tickets, staying in a little boutique hotel in the Marais, and all the obligatory gallivanting, eating, and drinking this type of trip inspires. We danced until 7 a.m. and watched the sun rise over the Seine. Emotionally, it was extremely worth it; financially, not so much. A freelancer at the time, I came home to a bright-red negative number in my bank account and immediately started hustling for gigs, any gigs.
Why am I telling this story? Because I’ve since learned that weddings — even ones where you have to fly to Paris — don’t have to be a financial burden on the guest. There’s an oft-cited survey from The Knot that found guests spending an average of $118 on a gift, $321 on travel, $322 on accommodations, and $81 on attire, with a grand total of over $800 spent per guest on each occasion. If you analyze these costs, you’ll find many avoidable expenses.
The number-one overarching rule to remember is that you can say “no,” says Meg Keene, founder of A Practical Wedding and author of two wedding-planning books.
“You can say no to stuff, and you don’t have to give a reason. You can always artfully bow out — like say, ‘I have to leave before brunch!'” Keene tells Refinery29. “Couples are feeling more and more pressure to do all of these things for their guests that they’re trying to do as favors, but it can end up feeling like an obligation — like setting up a hotel block. None of these things are obligations. If you can’t afford to stay at the W, you don’t have to make an excuse.”
With that said, read on for our tips for how to save money on the things you have said yes to, ahead.