One of the unexpected impacts of the pandemic is the glut of events that were cancelled or moved forward because they couldn’t take place. From concerts to festivals and other adventures, your diary may well be filled to bursting with two years of delayed events.
And, of course, there’s a backlog of weddings. Weddings are expensive and a commitment in many, many ways. So if you’ve been invited to multiple weddings, how do you keep down costs?
In short, your options depend on two simple things. If the couple to be married are easy-going and reasonable – of if they are high maintenance!
If it’s the later, consider whether you want to go at all if there’s little wriggle room on the high cost of attending, demands, gifts and stag or hen parties. But if not, here are my top tips.
Read the invite thoroughly. Many expensive mistakes with weddings occur when people don’t read invites. This can include; assuming you have a plus one, not looking at the cost of accommodation and travel and childcare costs. Read the invite or website in detail and know what you’re being asked so you can budget for it.
Book early. If it looks like the wedding is somewhere away from where you live or in a remote area, reserve accommodation as soon as possible. Make sure you’ve checked on the map where the place is though. Have a think about whether you want to book the night before the wedding or the night after (or both). Check what the cancelation policy is too. During the pandemic, thousands of pounds were lost by hotels and B&Bs declining to refund accommodation when weddings are cancelled.
Speaking of transport, book cabs and agree a price in advance. If you don’t drive – or you’re planning on having a fair few drinks, you’ll need a taxi to the wedding, to or from the local station and to your accommodation too. Lovely country houses are great wedding venues, but there may only be one cab operating in the whole area. Why not club together with other non-drivers/drinkers and hire a minibus?
Join forces with other guests. Many wedding invites have open forums, WhatsApp groups and more for guests to interact. Why not make a few connections in advance and discuss things like car-pooling, sharing accommodation and more to save cash?
Be aware of the ‘rules of the bar.’ No one loves a bar hog, so if there’s a limited free bar, don’t be the person ordering a zillion cocktails. Pace yourself and set a budget for what you’re willing to spend over the course of the day. If the bar takes cash, withdraw your budget in cash and stick to it. This has the additional bonus of helping you avoid being the wedding guest that brings shame upon themselves.
Don’t leave the gift till last. The only thing more competitive than the cheapest accommodation are the cheapest things on the guest list. Get in early and save a fortune! If you’ve left it till the last minute and there’s only pricy things left, then go in with other stragglers to split the cost. Or you could ignore the list altogether and offer some cash towards the honeymoon.
The pros and cons of being honest. There are lots of weddings going on in the aftermath of the pandemic. Limit yourself to the absolute unmissable ones if money is tight. You can be honest and say you can’t afford to go to the other ones, but if you chose to – ahem – bend the truth, then make sure you put a reminder in your calendar so you don’t pose for loads of social media photos on a night out while the big day is happening.
Ultimately though, if all weddings are too expensive for you this year, why not just fess up and send the happy couple a small gift of token to remind them that you care?
Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.