How to stay on budget during wedding season

Wedding season is officially here! While it's one of the most special and beautiful times of the year to celebrate L-O-V-E, it's also one of the most expensive times of the year whether you're a wedding guest, bridesmaid/groomsman or +1. Tristan and I are attending six weddings total this summer and it's getting pricey! I've already learned so much about needing to budget in advance for these types of events (especially weddings that require travel!)

I'm sharing my tips for ways you can stay on budget this wedding season without breaking the bank! 

Top 4 tips for out of town weddings:

1. Book your plane tickets as soon as you get the save the date! The closer you get to the wedding date the more expensive it will be to purchase a plane ticket. I recommend using the app Fareness - it uses algorithms to supply you with the best options for affordable flights to destinations all around the world on reliable airlines. 

2. Coordinate with friends/family attending to split the cost of lodging. Instead of purchasing a hotel room solo or with your +1, reach out to friends or family you know to determine if it makes more sense to split the cost of an Air Bnb. More often than not you get more for your money in splitting the cost with a group.

3. Get AAA. Tristan and I have been using our AAA membership discount when booking hotel rooms and it often saves us close to $25-$40 on average for the room rate. Not to mention, it's great to have for any car issues you may have down the road whether its your own or a rental! 

4. Scope out the wedding invitation/site for deals on hotel prices. Often times, the bride and groom will feature hotels/lodging nearby the venue for guests and typically they will have some sort of discounted rate for the wedding guests to stay. I learned the hard way when I skipped over the lodging discount code on a previous wedding invitation and the discounted rate expired before I could use it! Definitely take note of discounts you can apply if offered from the wedding party when booking. 

Top 4 wedding gift options for the newlyweds:

1. Honeymoon gift. If you aren't a fan of digging through wedding registries but want to treat the newlyweds on their special day, I highly recommend finding out where they are staying for their honeymoon and when. A fun gift option that is affordable is treating the couple out to a gift card at a recommended restaurant during their stay, money toward a special excursion or a special service during their stay like a couples massage gift card. 

2. Check Groupon. Groupon is constantly offering fun gifting options that you can treat the newlyweds to. Whether its a couples cooking class, date night cruise or a local tourist attraction, getting them a gift of something they can do together is always a win/win!

3. DIY. If you're extremely crafty put your skills to the test. Are you an amazing painter? Paint a canvas for the newlyweds to feature in their new home. Are you an amazing photographer? Create a photobook for your favorite couple. You don't have to break the bank when you are putting your skill set to use! 

4. Couples cookbook. If you are a huge fan of cooking/baking and so is the soon to be newlywed couple, a really thoughtful gift idea is to compile your favorite recipes into a handwritten cookbook (you can purchase these at Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Paper Source). Not only is it a sentimental gift to give the couple but it is one they can use/reference regularily when cooking their meals together! 

Top 4 online retailers to purchase (affordable) wedding attire (guest or bridesmaid):

1. Rent the Runway. A great option if you are uncommitted when it comes to dress shopping and want something just for the day or occasion. 

2. ASOS. A large range of product and prices from jumpsuits, rompers and dresses (of all shapes, colors and sizes) which are perfect wedding attire! 

3. Lulus. A great place to shop for bridesmaid dresses. Affordable prices and on trend styles.

4. Nordstrom Rack. If you're patient enough to dig around on the website or in person, you can find a true gem! 

Top 4 bridal shower gift ideas all under $150:

1. Artifact Uprising wedding guest book: $139

2. Glassybaby candle - $50

3. A gift set of wine from Winc - $100-$135

4. A Knackbox - $50+

Top 4 gift ideas for your bridesmaids under $30: 

1. Fresh Tangerine friendship bracelet

2. A bouquet of flowers.

3. A bottle of champagne.

4. A framed photo of the two of you. 

Top 4 tips regarding bridesmaid attire:

1. Research your alteration options. If you need to get your dress altered, scope out your options! Some stores will do alterations for free or a low charge if you purchase the dress from their store. 

2. If you can wear your own, wear what you own. If your bride is not picky about the bridesmaid dresses and allows you to pick out your own dress or shoes within a set color or style, evaluate if you already own a dress or pair of shoes that work instead of immediately going on a shopping spree. The more times you can wear a special occasion dress, the better! 

3. Hair and makeup. Find out what the bride wants you to do about hair and makeup on the big day. Find out if you are expected to pay for the hair/makeup services provided and budget accordingly. If there isn't a hair or makeup artist involved, determine if the hair style or makeup style is something you can do on your own to keep you on budget. You can also visit a local hair stylist or makeup artist for a consultation on recommended products/styles to try if you are doing your own that day.

4. Scope out discount codes. I peruse websites often for limited time only discount codes or sales during wedding season to see if there are any discounts I can apply to wedding attire I have to purchase. 

Top 4 tips to remember during wedding season:

1. Start budgeting before the peak of wedding season. When you start receiving Save the Dates and your friends/family members start to get engaged, start formulating a budget that will go toward attire, travel, gifts, etc. The earlier you start planning the more ready you'll be when the special time of the year comes! 

2. Sometimes, you just can't go. Life happens and people get it. Work can be hard to get off and sometimes you just have other things planned and that is OKAY. Learn to be okay with saying no if you can't swing the cost, travel or time. That doesn't mean you still can't celebrate the couple and do something special for them before or after their wedding day! 

3. No matter what, it will be special. Just being part of a wedding day as a guest, +1 or member of the wedding party is special. There is no need to break the bank on an extravagant gift that's out of your price range or feeling the need to buy the most expensive outfit to wear. Keep this in mind as you are budgeting for wedding season and dream up alternative ways to do special things for the couple! 

4. Treat yo'self. If you're going out of town for a wedding at a neat destination and are in need of a little vacay tack on some extra time before or after your trip to enjoy yourself when you aren't partaking in wedding festivities. Weddings can be a great opportunity to explore a new destination and enjoy some much-needed R&R time!