Help! I Can't Afford All Of These Wedding Events!

By Carolyn Stine November 5, 2018 

Remember those old Mastercard commercials? Flight to a bachelorette in Miami: $450. Crystal champagne flutes off the registry: $125. Bedazzled pink bridesmaid’s dress: $300. Making your best friend cry during your toast at her wedding: priceless.

As much as we love those priceless moments that are in abundance at a loved one’s wedding, what we are not quite as fond of are the hefty price tags often associated with weddings (and their many events). Whether you’re the bride trying to create your master budget, or a guest trying to navigate how to pay for the bachelorette and the wedding gift, we have answers for you. We teamed up with Michelle McKinnon, senior financial advisor and host of the incredible Smart Women Invest podcast. She is a badass female who has her finger on the pulse of how we ladies can best be budgeting, saving, and prioritizing for all of our upcoming wedding expenses. Read on to get the inside scoop.

Q

Michelle, tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into financial planning, and why did you decide to focus on financial planning for women?

A

I’ve been doing financial planning for eight years now, and about five years ago, I realized that the clients I connected with the most happened to all be women! There is something so gratifying about helping other women to succeed. My focus ever since has been working to improve the financial well being of all women, everywhere.

Q

As you may have experienced, weddings these days are expensive, especially for us ladies. What are your tips for how we should think about and approach this big spend?

A

If it’s your wedding…

Spend WITHIN your limits. Just because you have $40k in the bank does not necessarily mean you can “afford” a $40k wedding. You have to think about your future expenses and your future savings. Do you want to own a house? Do you want to take that trip to India next year? It’s really challenging because our society places a ton of weight on this one day, so everyone feels that they have to spend accordingly.

If you’re attending the wedding...

The name of the game is planning ahead. Is this the only wedding that you’re attending this year, or are there others? Make sure that you’re anticipating these expenses in advance so you know which weddings you will have wiggle room for (ie, buying that new dress), and which weddings you will have to keep the pursestrings tighter for (ie, sharing that hotel room with friends).

Q

Are you a proponent of budgeting leading up to these wedding events? What’s the best way to effectively create a budget and save?

A

If it’s your wedding…

Absolutely! Budgeting is a must, and the earlier on, the better. And expect to go over the budget… so be sure to build in some padding that in so you’re covered. Don’t forget that to keep in mind that this is one event, in a lifetime of events. At the end of the day, not many people will remember all the details of your wedding. What they will remember is how happy your were. That’s what really matters.

If you’re attending the wedding…

The biggest areas that I normally see spending in are flight or travel, hotel, dress, and food/drink, if you’re at a wedding location for a few days. I would say that skipping the blow-out, skipping makeup, and not buying new shoes and accessories are a must when budgeting. Even if you’re a bridesmaid, you can always decline hair and makeup and do it yourself. You can also borrow a pair of nude heels from a friend instead of buying a new pair. Shopping from friends’ closets for a dress that feels new (minus the price tag) is also a smart move.

Q

What if we’re invited to the engagement party, shower, bachelorette, AND wedding? If we’re low on funds, do we need to attend them all?

A

Absolutely not! I think it is really important to be honest with your friends and let the bride know that you simply cannot afford it. I feel that weddings (including bach parties, showers, and engagement parties) are getting way out of hand in terms of cost. You have to protect yourself first. And trust me, it’s way better to be honest up front.  

Q

Do you have any tips or hacks on ways to keep costs down when planning and booking wedding activities?

A

If it’s your wedding…

Have a separate checking account/credit card for all your expenses so you know exactly what you are spending. That way, it is really easy to track! And please please do not take out credit card debt for your wedding. To me, it’s just not worth it.

If you’re attending the wedding…

When I attend weddings, I always know roughly what I plan on spending in advance. I actually write it down (love the Evernote app for this). And I always share with my boyfriend what I plan on spending so that way we are both on the same page going into it.

Q

Are there any other resources or tools that could be helpful for budgeting and saving?

A

I cannot recommend the Joy app more highly, which is for more broad based savings tips. And of course, don’t forget to listen to my podcast, Smart Women Invest. We’re planning to do a whole episode on what WE do when we’re bridesmaids, so watch out for that 🙂

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Carolyn Stine
A party without cake is just a meeting.

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