Friends Don’t Make Friends Overspend: Wedding Edition
Instead of responding with, “Ain’t nobody got no money!” when you’re asked to be a member of the wedding party, stay calm.
With our tiny wedding on a budget, my sweetie and I are trying to make everything affordable for our guests and our wedding party -- not just affordable for us. So we've done what we can to minimize costs for our close friends and family who have been invited to attend.
Every happy couple should consider their guests' side of things. You may have only the One Special Day(TM), but think of the number of wedding invitations circulated through your group. With 3 or 4 weddings in a year (or a "season")... travel, special attire, and gifts add up! Sit down before you choose your attendants and estimate their responsibilities and possible costs, then make that information available to them when you ask them to stand up with you. If it's just not practical, you'll either have to change your list of "necessary" items or graciously accept that your dear one may not be able to do the honors. No one should be bullied into spending more than they can afford -- and no one should be blindsided by expenses, either!
Some of the deviations from a "standard" wedding that make it less costly for our people:
-My attendants can wear any solid-color dress they like in a certain palette (as long as I get a look and chance for approval beforehand). I've provided links to Little Borrowed Dress and other discount options, and I fervently hope that if any of my favorite femmes -- my sister, my best friend from high school, and a close local friend/ex-girlfriend -- buys a new dress for the wedding, she'll end up with one in a style she likes, that fits, and that she will wear again. I certainly don't have any requirements for hair or makeup, so whatever each one comes up with will be fine, and it's not yet another cash outlay.
-My sweetie's buddies will rent tuxes from a chain suit store -- easy to match, easy to return, relatively inexpensive.
-It's not a strictly formal event. Guests can wear whatever they like, as long as they are comfortable and ready for photos! No new clothes are necessary.
-We're not having a bunch of wedding events. A local friend has extended her longstanding offer to throw me a bachelorette party, but as two out of three attendants won't be in town, it's not an additional cost for them, and I wouldn't expect it to cost anyone more than they might spend on a night out (considering that I've expressed a desire to stay away from bars and clubs). My sweetie is organizing a butches' bachelor night -- from what I hear, it's high-end, but it's also not part of the combined wedding budget, so that's up to her.
-We're having a Saturday afternoon ceremony and reception. Local folks can avoid rush hour and won't have to stay overnight anywhere, and those few who are traveling from out of the area can hopefully either make it a quick jaunt without taking time off work, or can make a sightseeing weekend of it in San Francisco. I did some quick research and have listed on our website some nearby hotels with a range of rates starting at $59/night and going up to a getaway package for two (breakfast and special perks included) for $159/night.
-While costs like gas and meals during the time traveling will be on each guest, we're keeping an eye out for ways to help. Groupon, Restaurant.com, and other discount programs offer gift certificates throughout the year, and it's easy to scoop up a few here and there over time and pop them into welcome packages for your wedding party or special out-of-town guests. Also, see that Swagbucks widget in the sidebar? Those are bonus points I get for answering surveys, watching video clips, and searching online, and I can redeem them for gift cards (and lots of other stuff).
-There's nothing much we can do about airfare, sadly. As things stand, only two guests will be flying in. I gave them -- and everyone -- as much notice as possible so that their plans and savings have the advantage of time. This has applied to us as a couple, too. My sweetie and I will have enough TrueBlue points to pay for our honeymoon flights!
-As for gifts, while they are always appreciated, we really don't expect anyone to go out of their way -- particularly not the wedding party, who are already contributing their time and talents to keeping the both of us calm and looking sharp, participating in the ceremony, and helping with setup and teardown of the venue. Our website states in complete honesty, "If you show up to our wedding on time and participate with an open heart, that is gift enough for us." That's what's important to us as a couple, and that's why we're doing our best to reduce costs for everyone.