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How Not to Let Runaway Wedding Costs Derail Your Financial Plan

April 27, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Look, I love a good party as much as anyone else, especially when there is a great celebration, such as a wedding. But if you’re attending a few weddings a year—and god forbid if one or more is a destination wedding—then I am also worried you may be celebrating your way into a costly situation.

According to a survey last year from American Express, guests attending weddings spent more than $700 on average to attend each wedding. That includes the cost of an outfit, all the trimmings, a gift, and any travel. Millennials spent nearly $900, on average, per wedding.

That’s the one that troubles me the most. Because I bet plenty of millennials are the same people who are trying to juggle the rent and stay current on their student loans. And I know plenty of millennials are still working to get their emergency fund going, let alone have at least eight months of living costs saved up. So to spend $2,700 a year, on average to attend a few weddings (the same survey said the average was three a year), while you have yet to polish off some other important financial goals is a bit much.

And if your wedding expenses are being put on a credit card that you can’t pay off in full, then my goodness, the cost keeps climbing.

Look, I am not going to be the one to tell you not to attend a wedding. Especially if it is someone very near and dear to you. But you need to be smart about this. You may want a new outfit for each event, but you sure don’t need one. You may want to give the couple an expensive gift, but you don’t need to. A heartfelt gift—yes, homemade!—is going to be even more special. The point is, I want you to put yourself on the tightest of wedding budgets. And if you absolutely positively must attend a destination wedding, your goal is to cut back your regular spending the second you get the “save the date” notice. I want you to be able to save enough money by cutting back so you can pay for the entire cost of the wedding trip ASAP. Hopefully before the date arrives. I get that you might need to book the flight now, and it might go on a credit card you can’t pay off in full this month. But you can surely get it paid off in two, three, or four months if you make it a priority. That’s a plan you should be wedded to, so you don’t let all the celebrating make a mess of your financial life.

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