Brides and grooms set money aside for their big day years in advance, but their guests often don't think about the high costs associated with attending a wedding – let alone budgeting for eight weddings in one year!
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Leanne Woodward ended up spending an eye-watering £32k on weddings in 2018, and although her own nuptials accounted for a large proportion of that cost, she still spent thousands watching her friends say 'I do.' This is not surprising considering Plusnet commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK adults and found Brits spend an average of £649.50 attending a wedding, including £128.20 on overnight accommodation, £116.70 on a gift and £114.50 on a new outfit. Based on this estimation, Leanne still would have spent £5,200 in 2018.
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Instead of declining an invite and missing out on the celebrations to save money, like 26% of under 35s, or dipping into your personal savings, which another 26% have admitted to doing, there are a number of cost-saving hacks you can try to save your precious pennies.
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Leanne shared her top tips, and after attending 16 weddings in three years, with another six planned with her husband Matt for this summer, the 33-year-old Lincoln-based wedding planner knows her stuff.
The couple are attending another six weddings this summer
"I absolutely love weddings and I’m at the age where my friends are all suddenly getting married," Leanne said. "But it comes with a lot of pressure to wear nice clothes, have your hair and makeup done, give a generous gift and cover travel and a hotel too.
"Fortunately, Matt and I are comfortable financially but in 2018 we went to eight weddings as well as our own! Overall, we spent over £32,000 that year. After that, I knew I had to be smarter with our budgeting if we were going to carry on going to so many weddings."
Budgeting in advance
From the moment she receives a save-the-date card, Leanne says she and Matt start budgeting, putting £100 each into a designated wedding savings account on payday every month and looking for ways to reduce household bills (such as switching to Plusnet broadband.)
She said: "I normally allocate £200 per wedding based on how much it has cost us previously. It depends on how many invitations we get, but from January each year, we set aside £100 a month each on payday, so we have a pot of cash we can dip into when the wedding season kicks off.
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"Starting that process also acts as a reminder to me to go through our bills and check we’re getting the best value deals. This year I swapped from a contract to a SIM-only deal and changed our broadband package saving £600 per year. That will be enough to pay for 3 of the 6 weddings we’re attending this year."
Planning travel and accommodation
Leanne recommends pooling resources with other guests
Travel and accommodation can be very expensive, especially at a destination wedding, so Leanne said she prioritises searching for deals as soon as possible.
"Often, we end up in the best hotel just because we’ve booked early, and I like knowing we’ve got it at the best price too. If you have the option pay when you arrive so if something changes, you’re not out of pocket," she explained.
Leanne also suggested pooling resources with other guests. "I’m the first to message friends to see if we can travel together. It also means you can start the celebration early with your friends."
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Savvy wedding guest outfits
A lot of wedding guest dresses are very glamorous, and that means you won't necessarily have many chances to recycle your outfit. There are several ways to save money and be more sustainable – by swapping dresses with your friends or hiring your outfit from a rental site.
"I used to go to Oasis and spend £150 on a dress plus a new bag and shoes but when you’re going to as many weddings as I do that became unsustainable, but I still wanted to look nice and not turn up in the same one or two outfits.
Leanne and her friends swap wedding guest outfits
"So, my friends and I have a group to arrange swaps, so everybody has a new outfit to wear. Now I feel like I’m wearing a new outfit but it’s free," she said.
If you're after a designer look (for a fraction of the price), check out MyWardrobe HQ and HURR, where a £243 Ganni dress can be rented for £34 a day.
Personalised wedding gifts
Don't be afraid to deviate from the gift list! The wedding planner revealed she often chooses personalised presents from smaller online retailers via Etsy or Notonthehighstreet.
Leanne said: "I have told friends in the past I’m not buying anything from their John Lewis gift list. My preferred option is to give something personalised. One of my favourites is a print with names and date of the wedding and then I will have it framed. I have given this a couple of times and it’s always ended up hanging prominently above their bed.
"Another idea is champagne glasses which can be inexpensive but remind the couple of their wedding whenever they get used."
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