As February progresses along at an alarming rate, you’ll be happy to know that Spring is on it’s way. And along with warmer weather, bathing suit panic and better driving conditions comes Wedding Season. Generally known as the time between May and October, although there are always outliers, this is the time of year when there seems to be a never ending procession of events to attend. This year, so far, we are committed to Chicago, IL, Charleston, SC, Grand Rapids, MI and Detroit, MI, all in different months and all, theoretically, traveling from California.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than a good wedding celebration. I am known worldwide, or at least up into parts of Manitoba, for my ability to make a complete ass of myself dancing like a maniac, while somehow convincing others, often strangers, to join me. At the last wedding we attended, Dave was the Best Man and I was the Official Wedding Dancer. At one point, Age, the beautiful bride, came to be and said “Lane, NO ONE is dancing!” I replied with confidence, “I’m on it.” I had a little one-on-one with the DJ re: his terrible choices, got a few elderly people and some children to join me, and the rest is history. We danced the night away, madly, sweating and continued dancing when a downpour began and flooded the tent up to our ankles. Sure, it was probably an electrocution hazard, but those people caught my dancing fever. What can I say, it’s a gift.
All that being said, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the invitations. As happy as you are for your friends, going to a wedding, especially one you have to travel a great distance for, can be costly. And as I’m sure you may have heard on the news, we’re in a recession. Probably something worse than recession, but they don’t want to scare us too much by telling us the truth. So this wedding season, perhaps more than those previous, you may be a bit worried about your budget. You may be stressing over the cost. And all this tension may be putting a damper on the really exciting fact that people you know and love are ready to have a publicly declared commitment of THEIR love! GET PUMPED!
So, for selfish reasons I started a mental list of ways in which we can save money this wedding season. And for less selfish reasons, I thought it might be of use to you, too! Behold:
Ways To Survive Wedding Season During A Recession
- Pack a lunch. You think I’m kidding? I’m deadly serious. Whether you have to fly or drive, traveling to the destination is going to be a big expense that you can’t avoid. Everyone knows that eating out is a waste of money, and that is doubly true if you are trapped in an airport and have to pay those prices. Those pesky TSA officials won’t let you bring your beverage through security, but you can pack sandwiches, fruit (depending on if you are going through customs or not), crackers, granola bars and other goodies. If you save $10 minimum, per meal, per person traveling, it will add up throughout the summer. Also, you need to look as good as possible in that dress you brought to wear, so don’t bother with the extra calories of fast food.
- Raid a closet. It could be your closet, it could be the closet of someone you know. If you wore a dress to a wedding last summer, what is stopping you from using it again this year? Truly, during times of hardship, little vanities like this need to go out the window. If you are afraid of wearing the same dress or if you have multiple weddings with the same crowd throughout the wedding season, borrow a dress. Yes, borrow one. Go over to your friend’s house, bring the dresses you don’t plan on wearing to the big event, and do a swap. Swap shoes, accessories, jewelry. Mix and match, make the outfit your own. Don’t act like you aren’t creative enough to do this simple yet incredibly budget-friendly act. That’s just sad. Every woman I know has too many dresses worn too few times, dresses bought solely for a special event and then never used again. Recycling is trendy, don’t be a snob.
- You can’t buy their love. Believe me. Unless the betrothed couple are money grubbing, soulless, blood suckers, they are not rating your friendship based on how much the gift you bring cost. Of course you should never show up empty handed. You traveled, took time and have done your dancing duties. Pick something you can afford, write a meaningful and sincere note of congratulations, and be sure to kiss the bride when you see her. There were guests at our wedding who gave us tangible tokens of celebration even when their budgets were stretched thin. I appreciated the sentiment and the etiquette involved, but in truth I would have paid them to be there just for the love and life they brought to the party.
- a) If it’s an open bar…don’t bother predrinking. The bar in your hotel is overpriced. Why spend the money on something your hosts are graciously offering for free?
b) If it’s not an open bar…drink up early. Yes, I’m suggesting you pregame for a wedding reception (notice emphasis on the word RECEPTION), sort of like a form of tailgating. Oftentimes, there is that horrid pause in a wedding day, a few empty hours after the ceremony, before the reception beings. Find a 7-11, get the requisite beverage, and chill with your shoes off. Save money and embarrassment by sticking with water for the first half of the reception festivities.
- Bunk together. Unless your trip to the wedding is some kind of romantic getaway, find some roommates! (Listen carefully, Molly, Jenn, Erinn and Kristy). If you know other guests traveling in for the big day, split a hotel room. Not only does this cut your lodging budget in half, it makes for more fun! A slumber party, if you will! You won’t be spending much time in the room anyway.
- A wedding is not a marriage. This is the most important tip of all. Listen to me now, and listen to me carefully: being there for their marriage is more important than being there for their wedding. If it will absolutely break your bank to travel to a wedding, do not go. Call the couple and explain truthfully, and hopefully wedding madness hasn’t clogged their brains so much that they don’t understand where you are coming from. Some very close friends of mine couldn’t be there for our wedding day. Bernadette, Lanni, Claire and Sarah K. were only there in spirit because of various combinations of illness, distance, giving birth, finances, and other obligations. I missed them, even cried on the phone with some of them that day, but in the end it was only a party that they missed. All of them have since been there for me in my marriage (Remember that thing? It’s what comes after the wedding is over.) when I needed them, supporting me, Dave and the commitment we made that can be difficult at times. Put a gift in the mail, write the same meaningful and sincere card that you would have had you been able to attend, and make an effort to be there for them when it really counts.
After all is said and done, and assuming you don’t go into extreme credit card debt in the process, the cost involved in going to a wedding for someone dear to you is a worthy splurge. There was a time when I considered eloping, mostly so that people wouldn’t have to feel bad about not coming to the extremely inconvenient location of the U.P. for my wedding. But I was shocked and overjoyed at the people who not only traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles, but who did it gladly and made our day the most crazy, happy, beautiful, joyous day of my life. And so, I do the same, and realize that just like my guests I never feel put out by having to make a trek to show someone my support. I pack up, preferably with only a carry-on (a bonus budget tip) and a borrowed dress, to be in love with love and dance for the sake of dancing.