How to Prevent Overspending on Pre-Wedding Events

A group of people at a pre-wedding event eating pizza to save money.

Most people will agree that weddings aren’t cheap. These days, the average couple shells out around $30,000 on the wedding day alone. Pre-wedding events can rack up that spending even further. But it’s not just the couples and their families that end up with a financial burden. Guests are also affected. According to the Washington Post, a guest typically spends around $900 to attend a wedding, and millennials appear to spend more than other generations.

For guests, the expenses having the most impact include attire, bachelor or bachelorette parties, gifts, and travel. In fact, about 30% of bridesmaids and groomsmen have gone into debt due to wedding-related overspending. Whether hosting or planning to attend a wedding, it’s important to have and stick to a budget. Compared to the wedding itself, pre-wedding events do not have to be fancy or expensive, but they still add a significant cost to the total. Here are some of the many ways to save on pre-wedding occasions for both the honored couple and the guests.

Tips for the Guests

A group of young women at a bachelorette party on the beach.

First of all, keep in mind that pre-wedding events are not required. Unless you’re a bridesmaid or groomsman, don’t feel like you have to RSVP to anything with a “yes.” If money is of concern, you can pick and choose which ones you attend. It also may help to know what to expect, so don’t hesitate to ask the bride or groom how many pre-wedding parties they plan to have. However, if you do want to attend one, or two, or all of them, here are some tips to lessen your spending.

Budget

In regards to all wedding-related planning, it’s crucial to have and stick to a budget, not just for the couple, but for the guests as well. It might even be useful to have a separate budget for the pre-wedding festivities if there is a lot going on. If you know you’ll be attending a wedding in the future, especially if it’s a destination wedding, it can help to start saving a bit every month to enjoy all impromptu socializing without the stress. Having a budget can also help guests decide on which pre-wedding events they will spend more or less on. Soon-to-be newlyweds should pay attention to the expenses that are expected from guests, as not to alienate too many people out of the festivities.

Aesthetics

Even if it’s a semi-formal event, there is no need to buy a new outfit for every occasion. All pre-wedding festivities are more relaxed than the wedding itself, so it’s completely fine to wear your old favorite dress or just a smart-casual ensemble as long as you look polished and put together.

Gifts

Unless you’re attending a shower, gifts aren’t required. And even then, you can compensate in other ways to show your gratitude. However, many guests do bring a small token of thanks to engagement parties or bachelor/bachelorette parties. If you feel inclined to do so, there’s no need to overspend. A bottle of wine, home-baked cookies, or something small and meaningful will be appreciated.

Tips for the Hosts

A group of young people at a picnic engagement party.

If you’re hosting pre-wedding events yourself, they can take away from your wedding-day budget if you’re not careful. These suggestions will make pre-wedding planning much less stressful.

Guests

One of the best ways to cut costs on pre-wedding parties is to limit your guest list. Just because you’ve invited them to the main event doesn’t mean you’re required to ask them to attend the rest. In addition to cutting the guest list, be selective about whom you allow to have a plus-one (if applicable). However, make sure not to isolate anyone, either.

Venues

As mentioned before, there’s no need to be extravagant with pre-wedding festivities. It is perfectly acceptable to host these at your or a friend’s house. Not all venues are expensive, but they might have additional costs. For example, some won’t allow food unless it is ordered from their catering service. If you book a restaurant, ask if they have a corkage fee. If they don’t, you can save a lot by bringing your own alcohol.

Food and Drinks

Although cooking at home may seem smart, it might actually be cheaper to order from a restaurant if they have a catering menu (call your favorite places to ask). Another alternative is having a potluck and/or having each guest bring a bottle of wine. If you’re planning on buying a lot of alcohol, check if the shop offers a corporate discount or any additional discount for really large purchases. Many wine shops will also rent out glassware if you buy from them (sometimes even complimentary), which will save you money as well.

Invitations

While sending a paper invitation may feel necessary for the wedding itself, it isn’t for the pre-wedding occasions. Not only will that save you money on stationary, but on postage as well.

Travel

If you’re traveling for a bachelor or bachelorette party, book everything as much in advance as possible and give everyone you invite your best estimate of the cost. Since bachelor and bachelorette parties are usually a small tight-knit group, it can actually be cheaper to rent a large luxury suite than multiple hotel rooms. In addition, if you are all able to book together, certain airlines will offer group discounts if you call.

Insurance

Since wedding insurance doesn’t cover pre-wedding events, you can ameliorate that by using your credit card. Most personal credit cards have some customer protection insurance. It might be worth the time to check the terms and conditions of your cards and pick the one with the best policy. Using one card strictly for all wedding-related expenses can also help you keep track of your budget.

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