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Weddings Can Be Expensive For Guests Too – Here’s How To Save As An Attendee

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I was recently the Maid of Honour at my best friend's wedding. 
It was the most beautiful weekend and you couldn't wipe both the smiles (and tears) off the bride's face as she married the love of her life.
I get goosebumps just thinking about it and everything went off without a hitch. But, with my MOH duties done and dusted, I've realised that I have no idea how much money I've spent on her wedding.
From the hen's party to paying for a bridesmaid-worthy manicure, the costs have (naturally) been adding up.
But don't get me wrong. In my opinion, money should be spent on life events like this.
I don't work so I can afford a new designer handbag, I work so I can create experiences and make memories like watching my best friend walk down the aisle. What an absolute privilege not only to witness, but be a part of the bridal party, too.
In saying this, I'm also trying to save for my own life goals which got me thinking – is there a way to balance the two during wedding season?
I spoke to Emma Edwards, the founder of The Broke Generation to discuss some tips on how to not blow your budget on someone else’s wedding day.

Try to let go of social norms

Edwards notes that a lot of wedding guest norms have been based on external factors that come from long-held traditions such as what’s an "acceptable" amount to gift the newlyweds or that we need to buy a new outfit to celebrate in. 
"Instead," says Edwards, “we need to be basing these decisions on what’s within our own financial capacity."
"No societal norm should see you stretching your budget just to fit in." 
While it’s tough, Edwards recommends letting go of the habit to follow what everyone else is doing, and base decisions on your own financial situation. 
"Is it really worth busting your budget just to fit into some outdated expectation, like "paying for yourself" when gifting?" Edwards asks.

Plan well in advance 

Of course, there are the obvious costs like buying a gift or putting some cash into a wishing well, as well as travel or accommodation if the wedding is out of town. 
But Edwards notes that it’s often the smaller things that add up. 
“You’ve got taxis to the venue and back (even if the wedding is in your own city), the outfit or accessories you bought to wear, the card, the day or half-day off work, childcare or babysitters and that’s just for the actual wedding. If you’ve also attended the engagement party, hens, bucks or other prequel events, there’s more cash to be spent.”  
Edwards recommends planning your wedding attendance well in advance and keeping in mind the collateral costs like taxis and outfits from the start (unlike what I did at my best friend’s wedding). Using a cashback service like Cashrewards can also help you to claim money back on flights and accommodation that you need to get to the wedding. 
"When we plan all those things last minute, it can add up," says Edwards. 
"But planning ahead helps you make more rational decisions. Maybe you drive or car share. Maybe you work extra hours in the weeks prior to avoid taking a day of unpaid leave, maybe you rent an outfit or wear something you’ve already got or borrow from a friend."


Expectations around money won’t change unless we talk about it. 
"Open up the conversation with your friends and family about the cost of weddings."
Yes, even as wedding guests. As economic uncertainty increases, the disposable income spent on experiences like weddings can really make or break your monthly budget. 
"Instead of harbouring resentment for the expense of being a wedding guest, be upfront about what changes you may need to make to feel more comfortable financially."
These conversations often aren’t the easiest, especially if you’re dealing with couples with big expectations. But Edwards notes it’s okay to show your love and support in other ways aside from financially.
"If you can’t or don’t want to contribute big bucks as a gift, how else can you show up for them?" She asks. 
"Maybe you make something, maybe you help set up, maybe you offer to pick up their elderly relatives. There are so many ways – beyond just money – that we can celebrate love and show our support for friends and family who are getting married."
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