Saturday, March 12, 2011

Channeling Emily Post

Ladies and Gents, it's Wedding Season once again.

In the South, Wedding Season can pretty much happen all year long. But the High Wedding Season (like how I used the capital letters and the word High to make it seem all royal and official?) kicks off in early April and runs through October. In Atlanta, that is prime gorgeous-flowers-and-green-grass, sunshine-and-cloudless-skies and perfect-honeymoon weather timing.

It also happens to be bake-your-skin-off-heat weather timing, but that never really seems to play a factor with all these girls choosing their wedding dates, does it? :P

I mentioned a few weeks ago how I have three weddings coming up around the corner, two of which I am in. We are entering adult-wedding time -- late-20's engagements and guest lists consisting of mostly adult-couples (rather than kids coming from their finals and study sessions). By goodness, these weddings are going to be FUN :)

By what to do financially when you are swamped with 2, 5 or, Heaven forbid, 6+ weddings in a season? Especially if all 6 are for your nearest and dearest friends? How do you budget not only for the big day, but also for the variety of events that precede it?

As one of my dedicated readers, Hannah was quick to bring this up as a Buckhead Betty request, so I am going to share my two cents. Please remember, however, that my opinions here are based on my budget, my particular season of wedding events and my relationships with my friends. What you choose to spend on your one or ten wedding events this year is up to you. Plus, every wedding is different. It could be swank-city 200+ guest list, or 10 people on a beach with the preacher. These opinions are just meant as a gauge.

First things first. To best enjoy the entire calendar of showers, parties and wedding affairs, start putting aside some money each week as soon as you hear about the engagement. If there is any sign that you might be invited, just start saving. You should plan to spend a few hundred dollars at least on the shin-dig, and much more if you are in the wedding.

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Day-of affairs: I would be lying if I didn't say that the girls get the shorter end of the stick as a wedding attendee. If you are in the wedding, you have even more reason to budget ahead. A basic tux rental costs nothing compared to the hair and make-up, shoes, purses, dresses and other swag that bridesmaids encounter on the day-of.
  • Bridesmaid estimate for day-of: Plan on spending $300-400.
  • Groomsmen estimate for day-of: Plan on spending $100 for the tux, unless you already own one. 
  • Other attendees: Recycle something you already own. Girls, dress up last season's dress with new jewelry for about $30. 
Showers: Plan on attending at least one, if not two, showers ahead of the wedding. You don't have to bring a gift to each one, but if they are drastically different groups of people, or if one happens to be a couples shower, you should budget a reasonable gift for each. 

I like to pick one bigger-ticket item off the bridal registry and pair it with something complimentary and personalized from me. A favorite combination of mine is a selection of registry cooking supplies plus a cookbook. Add an inscription to the inner cover and voila -- you are set and it's memorable.
  • Shower estimate: $75 for one gift, or $40-50/each for multiple parties. 
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Bachelor/Bachelorette: This one is hard to budget for, because it all rests on the location. Destination parties are all the rage. If the group is talking about heading out of town, get them planning early -- plane tickets and hotel costs can skyrocket if they wait too long to book. For Bachelorette parties, don't forget that a lingerie party (and gifts) is usually part of the plans. Guys and girls should also plan to split the costs of the guest-of-honor while there, from their bar tab to the cab fares.

  • In-town Bachelor/Bachelorette estimate: $100-$200 for the night, including the gift.
  • Destination estimate: Anywhere from $300 and up, depending on travel costs and location.
Wedding Gifts: Depending on how close you are to the bride and/or groom, this one is all over the place. If you are heading to the wedding with a bunch of friends, check around on splitting one of the biggest items on the registry. Vacuums, honeymoon expenses and china/flatware usually hit the top of the list.

If it's just you and/or your significant other, plan on the same approach as the showers, but just increase the amount. Registries are there for a reason -- the bride and groom are telling you they need your help getting those items. Just make it more fun and add some other items to make it a themed gift.
  • Wedding Gift estimate: $100 is a great median to shoot for.

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Well, that all adds up to a lot of money, doesn't it? If you started saving up for those weddings in November when you heard about their engagement, you'd be near ready to go out and spend right about now :)

If you didn't, or if you got a last-minute or unexpected invitation, don't fret. Tradition says gifts can be sent up to a year after the wedding, and often are even more appreciated then since the new couple can sit back and actually enjoy them.

Alternative gift ideas are great, too. Consider throwing an intimate dinner party a few months later for the couple. For only the cost of the food and the effort it takes to prepare, you can create a memorable evening for them and reminisce about their big day.

I hope this helps. But since everyone looks at it differently, what guidelines do you set for yourself while planning on attending or participating in weddings? Share your tips with us!



Hannah said...

Thanks for the suggestions Kat! Helps with the budgeting for sure...