Consider the cost before sending that wedding RSVP

Being a wedding guest also means incurring extra expenses for a couple's big day. /123RF
Being a wedding guest also means incurring extra expenses for a couple's big day. /123RF

Summer wedding season is in full bloom. You may have attended a ceremony or two already, with more possible invites on the way through December to February.

With couples spending on average over R70000 to create their fairytale wedding according to the online wedding planning platform www.hitched.co.za, it is understandable that as a guest you'd want to pull out all the stops.

Consider the cost before sending that wedding RSVP. That does not mean ditching your financial obligations or irrecoverably hurting your bank account to show off at the wedding.

"Travel and accommodation, the outfit and gifts are the biggest expenses for a wedding guest. And then of course there are smaller costs to think about like money for the cash bar at the reception - that can all really add up," cautions Lindiwe Sithole, founder and creative director of bridal boutique, Child of the South.

So, before you start planning to spend money on the weddings you'll attend this season, you need to get a clear idea of how much you must work with by reviewing your budget.

"I advise people to spend only within their means. Honestly, if you can't afford all the expenses that come with being a wedding guest then don't attend," advises Ika Khoza, founder of wedding magazine blog www.bontlebride.com.

Sithole suggests going through the expense of each item carefully before sending the RSVP:

Travel and accommodation

Destination weddings may be the latest trend, but they can burn through your pocket. If you decide to attend, start planning your trip as early as possible. This way you will be able to identify the easiest, quickest and cheapest routes and modes of transport.

If family and friends are also attending, consider car-pooling, or look for group discounts on flights and accommodation.

"The couple getting married can also assist guests to minimise expenses by seeking preferential rates with airlines and hotels and also with transfers and taxi fees," says Lulu Mutsikara, creative director at events company Nama Saya.

Outfits

It's hard enough worrying about the perfect dress for one wedding, but attending more than one where some have both traditional and white ceremonies, can really stretch your stress levels, and your budget.

Men need one good tuxedo or suit with different accessories for different events, and women can keep it simple with a stylish dress in neutral colours like black or navy with different accessories, Sithole advises.

"If you're only attending one wedding this calendar season, hiring a dress might be the most economic option."

Gifts

If you're buying from the gift registry, buying early won't only allow you breathing room with staggering expenses, it will also give you more and cheaper options. If by the time you get around to buying the gift the only options left fall out of your budget range, consider putting together a curated gift or pitch in with friends or family for that one big-ticket item.

Like any other special occasion, there are always unexpected expenses - for example you make new friends and decide to stay a little bit longer at the cash bar.

To avoid busting your budget it's wise to consider setting up a wedding savings account.

Saving costs at the wedding

Things are a bit different if you're in the wedding as you have more responsibilities and financial obligations.

Knowing what will be expected of you in the planning and on the actual day allows you to plan your finances. This will make you a resource for the rest of the bridal party when it comes to looking for discount deals as well as more cost-effective service providers.

Don't accept every invite

Whether you're an invited guest or part of the bridal party, sometimes you just can't go to all the weddings. This is where you need to put emotions aside, focus on protecting your financial wellbeing, and simply say no.

If the people getting married are close to you, you'll have ample time to plan for their special day.

However, if you receive an invite at the last minute, it might be worth giving it a miss and possibly just send a gift.

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