It's nearly upon us. Wedding season, the time when seemingly everyone you know is proclaiming their love under the watchful eye of family and friends. Whether it’s in a barn in the country, a registry office in town, or a brightly coloured Las Vegas chapel, if you’re lucky enough to be invited to be a part of their special day - there’s a high chance that you’ll have to spend a lot of money to be there.
If you want to get straight to the good stuff, then here's your chance:
- How to save on Travel & Accommodation
- How to save on a Wedding Outfit
- How to save on a Wedding Gift
- 6 Bonus Money-Saving Tips
It's amazing to watch The Happy Couple get hitched, however, it's easy to see how all of these factors can end up costing you a lot. According to a new study by American Express, UK guests are likely to spend, on average £1,728 over four weddings this summer. Blimey!
Are you part of the bridal party? Bridesmaids will be paying on average £659, with groomsmen paying £909 on average for the big day.
Ever keen to help you save money, we at Magic Freebies UK have created a useful guide on how to save money as a guest this wedding season. Learn how to cut down the cost of travel, accommodation, your wedding outfit, and a wedding gift. We’ve also thrown in a 6 bonus tips, so make sure you check them out!
How to save money on wedding accommodation & travel
As soon as the Save The Date information falls into your hands, get yourself online. If you’re close to the bride or groom you may be able to get this information before everyone else knows. Use this precious time to assess your accommodation options.
Choose Airbnb or villas over expensive hotels
Are lots of your friends attending the same wedding? Instead of booking a hotel room, consider finding an Airbnb and splitting the cost between you.
If the wedding is far away from home and you need to stay not only the night, but the night before, an Airbnb is a great way for you to cut down the cost of eating too.
Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant and quaffing expensive booze, club together and drive to a local supermarket to pick up food for lunches, dinners and for those that can stomach it after the wedding – The Morning-After Fry Up.
You’ll end up saving a fortune on food. It will take an organised person to work out who will be attending what meal, how much money to spend and what to buy, but it will be worth it in the end.
Has one of your future temporary housemates has never used Airbnb? Don’t forget to that you can get £15 in travel credit when they sign up. Should they choose to be a host in the future, you’ll get £55 in travel credit.
Save money on your hotel
If Airbnb is not an option, then there are ways to save money on hotels, you just need to know what you’re doing. It’s time to do some research. If you know other guests attending, consider splitting a family room between you to cut down the cost.
Here are my top three tips for saving money when booking your stay:
1. Check hotel comparison websites
2. Call the hotel
3. Use cashback websites
After identifying your hotel budget, it’s time to hunt. Comparison websites are a great way for you to save money and if you’ve never used them before, you’re in for a treat. It’s an easy way for you to weigh up all your options at the same time.
Once you’ve found the perfect price, find the hotel phone number and give them a call. Ask them the price of the room you’re looking at and explain that you’re looking at a comparison site. There may be a deal to take advantage of, or it may be cheaper if you book with them directly.
If you are still booking online, check for an opportunity to use a cashback website before you finalise your accommodation. TopCashback offer (you guessed it!), money back on luxury or budget hotels, so it’s worth taking the time to see if your hotel is listed.
Stay in a hostel near the wedding venue
This is a great way to save money on wedding accommodation, especially if you’re staying abroad. Hostels aren’t just for enlightenment-searching-Gap-Yaahh students, but if you’re nervous, then try to book out an entire room for yourself and fellow wedding guests to avoid chance meetings with those pesky flip-flop-wearing youths.
Try University accommodation
This could be a fun way to relive or have an experience of university life without the lectures. Plenty of UK University colleges offer Bed & Breakfast accommodation during summer, Christmas and Easter holidays. Visit University Rooms for more information.
Save money on flights
Heading abroad for a wedding? If there are lots of you flying, ring the airline and see if there is a deal for a group booking. If you don’t know any other guests, contact the bride and groom to see if you can be put in touch with other people that may want to go out the same time as you.
When it comes to physically purchasing the flights, do your research on a Tuesday (when most airlines will have recently updated their systems) or on a Thursday (when most airlines have lowered the rates for the weekend).
Websites that may of interest for flight comparing include Skyscanner or Expedia. Take care to clear your cache and cookies when searching for flights. Often travel websites and airlines track how many times you’ve have visited, so may offer different prices – sneaky huh?
Uber vs taxi vs rental
Depending on where the wedding is, how long you need the transport for and how many people are involved, it’s a good idea to take the time to work out what the cheapest mode of transport is. Get an old-fashioned pen and paper and crunch the numbers.
How to save money on a wedding outfit
Suits, ties, shoes, dresses, hats, skirts, bags, jewellery – there are plenty of items you may have to purchase and if you’re not a naturally savvy saver, your outfit could end up costing a small fortune. Don’t panic, I’ve got some wonderful advice on how to save money on your attire if you really can’t find a stich to wear.
Hit the charity shops
The best thing about second hand clothes is that you have less chance of turning up to a venue in the same outfit as someone else. Oh, and you can save a packet AND contribute to a charity at the same time. Win, win, win.
Don’t leave it to the last minute - head to a shopping area which holds a cluster of charity shops and rummage through all of them, preferably armed with a list of what you need to get.
Raid a friend’s wardrobe
Got a friend who wears the same clothes size as you and isn’t attending the same wedding? Fantastic! Raid their wardrobe for the perfect wedding outfit and remember to return the favour.
Don’t be a mug and buy your wedding outfits at full price. Shop in the sales or peruse in winter for cheap summer clothes. If you love a certain shop, ask the sales assistant when they’re next dropping prices. There seem to be constant sales at all kinds of clothes shops lately, so make sure you’ve thoroughly checked them all out.
Another great tip is to make sure you’re signed up the mailing list of any shop you love – as soon as a sale is on you’ll be among the first to know.
Rent a dress or suit
You don’t have to buy a new dress or suit - why not rent one instead? Girl Meets Dress allows you to rent a designer dress from £29 and there are over 4,000 new season dresses to choose from. I’ve just looked at the website and it looks like they’re offering £10 off your first order – hurrah! For suits, there are all kinds of high street shops with suits to hire from, such as Debenhams, Moss Bros and Burton.
Be clever with accessories
If you have purchased a dress that you want to wear to multiple weddings, then accessories are your key. A bag, cardigan, belt, statement necklace – each one of these pieces can make your dress look like a completely different outfit.
A neutral shoe can go a long, long way
Buy a good pair of quality shoes and they should last you far longer than a pair of cheap shoes. Purchase them in nude or another neutral colour so that they will go with whatever outfit you choose.
Upcycle old outfits
Handy with a needle? Use your artistic skills to create a new look from an old outfit. Stitch exciting buttons to collars, or use fabric glue to embellish a dress with gems.
How to save money on a wedding gift
Firstly, don’t panic – you do not have to hand over your last pay check to the bride and groom. It’s often said that you should spend roughly what the lovely couple spent on your attendance at the wedding, e.g. the food and venue, however, you should just give what you can afford to give.
If you’re strapped for cash, here are a few ideas that might be slightly more purse-friendly.
A group effort can be thoughtful and you can afford to give the happy couple something grander than you would by yourself. If you know other fellow wedding guests, then get organising. A memorable experience might be a good idea, or something beautiful for their home.
Make your own
A homemade gift is a lovely option. Grab a hamper, fill it with packets of teabags, a few mugs and some homemade biscuits! You’ve got yourself an afternoon tea hamper for a fraction of the price of one put together by a company.
Offer your time & expertise
Forget a normal gift, offer yourself instead. If you’re great coding, why not make them a lovely wedding website? If you’re handy with flower arranging, offer to create bouquets for the wedding or perhaps you’re a graphic designer and could help make stunning invitations. There are many important jobs you could do and the bride and groom will really appreciate a helping hand.
Bring a bottle of champers
It’s a celebration, so why not take a bottle of bubbly? Consider rummaging in your local Aldi or Lidl to find a cheaper alternative. Dress it up in a pretty box or wrapping paper and pop it on the gifts table.
Buy second hand
A gift doesn’t have to be new to be special. Why not pick up your gift to the lovebirds from places like the Oxfam shop or any of your local charity shops. There are lots of unusual gift ideas out there and it’s highly likely that no other guest will be giving the same item.
6 bonus tips on how to save money as a guest
We’ve now covered all the big costs for you at a wedding but here are some other helpful tips that you and your bank account are sure to love.
1. Cut down the cost of childcare – ask for help
If your children aren’t invited to the wedding, consider asking family members or friends if they can look after them for you. Offer to return the favour on a different day – perhaps they’ll have a wedding to attend too and need their children looking after. You can now enjoy the wedding with the knowledge that childcare isn’t costing you the earth… and dare I say it, you might have more fun!
2. Save on Stag & Hen events
Often a Stag or Hen do can involve several different activities in a gruelling itinerary, over the period of one, two or three days. A rising trend is for a European city break for the weekend and we all can imagine the dent this would be to your cashflow.
It’s important to be firm and polite and let the organisers know early on if you have a strict budget, and what it means you can or cannot partake in. It may be that you can attend different parts, instead of the whole event. If you feel like you can’t do this, see if you can help organise it - you might be able to find a more suitable, cheaper activity to fit your price range.
3. Hire a hat
There’s nothing like a good hat at a gorgeous wedding, but realistically, how often do you think you’ll be wearing it? Forget spending your precious money on a brand spanking new hat, hire one instead. There may be places to hire a fascinator too so it’s worth a search.
4. Save money on hair
If you need a haircut then head to your local salon and ask if they need a guinea pig for their juniors. These cuts will often be heavily discounted, or if you’re brave and looking for an adventurous haircut they might even cost nothing.
Compromise on the hairdressing experience and opt for the haircut only, without washing and drying – this will really bring the cost down. Alternatively, if you have a friend in the biz, ask nicely if you can get a freebie!
5. Set a budget for booze
Be kind to your wallet by researching the bar prices in advance and taking a set amount of cash with you to the wedding reception. Leave all those credit cards back in the hotel room so you’re not tempted to spend more than you budgeted for. Avoid round systems at all costs and be honest with everyone – you’re on a budget so can’t get involved.
6. Don’t feel pressured to spend & decline if you want to
Finally, and more importantly, if you genuinely can’t afford to attend a wedding, do not feel guilty or pressured into going. It’s also completely acceptable to decline your invitation, just politely say that you won’t be able to make it. Send a gift if you can, but you certainly don’t have to do this either.
I hope you have enjoyed our guide on how to save money as a guest during wedding season. Please spread the word by using the share buttons above and below!