Most people can agree that weddings are quite costly for the two parties involved. The average matrimonial celebration costs a Canadian couple around $30,717, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Weddingbells.
A new survey by retailmenot.ca has revealed that just attending a wedding is getting more expensive too.
“The price of being a wedding guest is going up astronomically,” says Sandra Hanna, founder of personal finance site, Smart Cookies.
Canadians are spending an average of $776 per wedding on gifts for showers, parties and of course, the big day. Hanna says people are feeling pressured to spend more on their friends and families. “They still want to enjoy and give really thoughtful gifts but…$700 is a vacation!” Other costs can include the travel and accommodation for destination weddings and formal attire.
Luckily, there are ways to make sure your best friend’s wedding doesn’t empty your pockets. Here are Hanna’s tips on how to save as a wedding guest.
1. Buy a group gift
Bring together friends or family and pool together money to purchase a group gift. “What’s great about that is that you can give something special. If you are on a budget, it always feels weird to go into the registry and pick out a tea towel,” says Hanna. She recommends shareagift.com to make the organizational process of contributing to a group gift easier. All you have to do is create an account, a budget for your gift, invite friends and watch the money come in. The site even sends reminders to those who haven’t contributed to the gift yet, so you don’t have to. Depending on your relationship with the bride and groom, it’s appropriate to spend anywhere between $50 and $150 on a gift. If a group gift doesn’t work out, giving the soon-to-be-wed a cash gift may be the best choice. According to the RetailMeNot survey, 54% of Canadians prefer to give cash.
2. Give an experience
Hanna says that she sees more people creating wedding gift baskets for newlyweds. She suggests including items like gift cards to their favourite restaurant and wine so the couple can have a post-honeymoon date night. Websites like cardswap.ca let you trade old gift cards you don’t plan on using for cash. It also lets you swap them for cards from different vendors.
3. Don’t be chained to the registry
Just because a couple signs up for a registry at a specific store, doesn’t mean you have to purchase the gift from there. Hanna suggests doing a quick search on sites like shopbot.ca to see if you can find a better deal elsewhere. Then you can go into the registry and manually select the gift as bought so the couple doesn’t receive two of the same item.
4. Don’t follow the herd
Destination weddings can be especially costly. It’s likely the bride and groom found a group rate for guest accommodation, but Hanna says to always question whether that’s the best deal available. She recommends using expedia.ca to find cheaper digs. “You can stay in a nearby hotel and still have an incredible experience,” she says. Try to bundle your hotel and your flight to save even more.
5. Save on wedding attire
The RetailMeNot survey found that both men and women are spending more than $300 for their outfits this wedding season. Hanna recommends looking into renting your wedding getup using sites like Toronto-based rentfrockrepeat.com, which offers dresses to rent for up to 80% of their retail price. She also suggests considering how many times the dress you purchase can be worn. A classic outfit can be re-worn for a few of those six weddings you’re invited to this summer—just switch up accessories and style your hair differently. Men can do the same with suits; don a different tie or a shirt you already own and maximize your outfit’s wear.
6. Think about how you’ll get home
You may have reached the wedding safely, but it’s important to plan how you’ll get home. Find other guests who live in your vicinity or who are staying at the same hotel and pre-book a taxi for the end of the night. Having this plan in place means you won’t be stuck getting home without someone to split the bill with. Use sites like taxifarefinder.com to get an estimate of what you might have to pay and how much it may cost everyone. The site also provides fare estimates for rideshare options like Uber and Lyft.
7. Ship your gift
Finding a bargain gift could be half the battle. If the couple is getting married in Jamaica, you may have to pay an extra baggage fee for that espresso machine you hope to give them. When you purchase a gift from a wedding registry, choose to ship the item to the couple a few weeks after the actual event. Shipping costs could range from 10 to $20. Some retailers, like Hudson’s Bay offer, free shipping for purchases over $99, so you can save the money and the hassle at the airport.