I love a good wedding– I'm yet to be bogged down into going to them every other weekend, and I love seeing two people I care about give a (hopefully) lasting declaration of love to each other. However, there's no doubt the money adds up. Everyone talks about the costs of weddings for the bride and groom, but I'm here to stick up for the humble money-strapped guest.
I came across the story of a Mumsnet poster this week, whose £100 wedding gift cheque was rejected by the bride and groom. The reason they gave was that it did not properly reflect the amount they believed they should have received.
This reaction left me flabbergasted – so much so, in fact, that the only appropriate word for my reaction was flabbergasted, a word I can't say I use all too much. I don't mind spending money on sharing someone's special day with them. In fact, I'm delighted to be asked to be involved. But I would really resent being pulled up on the amount I choose to give for a gift.
The weddings I am attending this year will cost me – bearing in mind none of them are near where I live so need to factor in the costs of getting there and staying somewhere. But there are ways I have picked up to keep the costs down.
Here are some of the cost-cutting ways I've learnt over the past couple of years.
Five ways to keep your wedding guest costs low
The first thing I would say is to plan in advance. The early bird catches the discount (usually), so if you know you need to travel to get somewhere think about your options and book any transport early. If there's a group of you going, it may make more sense to hire a car or drive. I'm going to a wedding this weekend in York and four of us are hiring a car – even with petrol costs, this saves us a lot compared to trains.
2. Work out your accommodation
Another good tip is to consider your accommodation, if you need to stay somewhere. Hotels are expensive and with some of the bigger chains, once you've seen one branch, you've seen them all. Shake things up with an Airbnb, or similar, instead – more personal, and tends to be a lot cheaper.
3. Keep outfit costs low
Don't spend lots on outfits either. Men do have it better than women here – one suit and you're sorted. But there are loads of ways you can cut the costs – charity shops for example. I often wear the same dress but will get a new hat or fascinator if I really want to mix things up.
4. Get your gifts for less
If you are going to get a gift, you don't have to be splashing out loads of money. Gifts are always best when they are personal.
One of my friends spotted a cork board she wanted to give her friend made out of wine corks for her wedding, but it was prohibitively expensive. So she saved wine corks and got a load from a local wine bar, and made her own for next to nothing. Imagine unwrapping that on your wedding day and knowing the effort that had gone into it? A thousand times better than shop-bought I think you'd agree.
5. Remember you don't have to go!
Also, don't feel you have to go to every part of the celebrations. Last year, I skipped a friend's hen do because I simply couldn't afford it at the time. If they're a friend, they will understand. But don't say you'll go and then back out unless completely necessary. I'm a bridesmaid at the moment and it's very frustrating when people do this!
You don't have to go to the wedding either, remember. Yes, it's wonderful to be invited, and it's great to go. But you will not have a good time if you are worrying about the costs the whole time you're there. This doesn't always feel possible especially with close friends or family, but honesty is the best policy.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.