We’re heading into prime wedding season, and the planning, scheduling, arranging, and worrying is hitting a peak during the next few weeks.
But for many couples, families, and guests, there is one more “-ing” that started a long time ago, and may not be finished until well after the vows are spoken: “spending”.
Here are some of the figures involved with getting hitched, along with some potential ways to save. This week we’ll cover the ancillary events and expenses, and next week we’ll discuss The Big Day and how everyone involved can save.
First, the ring
A recent survey by wedding website The Knot found that respondents spent, on average, almost $6,000 on their engagement rings.
That number will astound many of us who last shopped for engagement rings a few decades ago. But if you figure the diamond industry guidelines of “one to two months’ salary”, a worker making $36,000 could theoretically fit in to that price range.
You can spend considerably less than that $6,000 and still get a beautiful piece of jewelry by shopping online, buying a used ring (or stone), picking a stone other than a diamond, or having the ring custom-made with a unique design.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties
GOBankingrates.com researched how much the invitees of the bride or groom spent on their respective pre-wedding celebrations. The ladies got off relatively easy, spending $437 each on average to attend a bachelorette party.
Not so much with the guys, who plunked down an average of $681 per person on some combination of travel, lodging, dining, drinks, and other miscellaneous activities.
A Priceline.com survey of 1,000 invitees to bachelor or bachelorette parties found that 45% didn’t attend due to the high cost.
There are several ways to have a good time without spending the equivalent of a month’s rent for a night or two of would-be debauchery.
Start by reducing or eliminating travel and lodging, by hosting drinks and dinner at the home of the bride, groom, best man, or maid of honor.
Those who have to travel to attend should have the choice of staying in a spare bedroom or living room of one of the attendees who live in the general vicinity of the party, rather than being forced to shell out for a hotel room.
A great way to save money for everyone is to rent a house with plenty of room for the guests to eat, drink and sleep. Try Airbnb.com or VRBO.com for listings in a particular area.
With the money saved on lodging, there could be plenty left over to hire a caterer or private chef. Or get some quality steaks or seafood that can be cooked and served relatively easily by the host.
Bringing in your own wine, beer, or liquor to an in-home meal will allow your guests to drink much less expensively than they could at a bar or restaurant. Hopefully you and the invitees will use the savings to boost the quality of the libations, rather than the quantity (but who are we to judge?).
Bridesmaids and groomsmen
The bachelor and bachelorette parties are just one part of the expense of being asked to be a part of the wedding party. The aforementioned survey from GOBankingRates.com found that the average bridesmaid’s dress cost $214, while men spent $245 renting(!) a tuxedo.
The bride and groom can do their wedding party a favor by suggesting that the bridesmaids simply wear a dress that matches a particular color (and that they either already own or may be able to wear again).
The men might wear similar-colored regular suits, and maybe a special neck- or bowtie chosen by the couple.
This casual approach not only saves the members of the wedding party hundreds of dollars apiece, but it also means they will spend less time in fittings and alterations of clothes that they will never wear again.