Money-Saving Tips for Wedding Guests June is a prime month for weddings, and it can get expensive for guests -- clothes, gifts and travel costs can easily run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Day to Day personal finance contributor Michelle Singletary shares tips for surviving the financial burden of being a wedding guest.
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Money-Saving Tips for Wedding Guests

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Money-Saving Tips for Wedding Guests

Money-Saving Tips for Wedding Guests

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

It's June. Many of us are going to be attending weddings. That's going to cost us a little money for traveling and for gifts. And then if you have the honor of being in the wedding party, it will cost more. Shoes, accessories, maybe that lime green taffeta dress you'll never wear again. So, how much is too much to spend on someone else's wedding?

Michelle Singletary is our guest for questions of personal finance.

Michelle, welcome back. And do you know on average what are people in wedding parties, that if you are a part of the wedding party, what is the average amount people are spending these days?

Ms. MICHELLE SINGLETARY (Personal Finance Contributor): If it's a local wedding, you don't have to travel, it could be a couple hundred dollars. For bridesmaid, for example, anywhere from $200 to $400 when you count in the dress and shoes, accessories and so forth.

If you are traveling to a wedding and you're in the wedding, you could end up paying several thousand dollars when you count in the amount it costs to travel, transportation, hotel, and so forth.

CHADWICK: And is there an average figure for guests. I guess I'm thinking of wedding gifts, that kind of thing. And maybe what you spend for your own attire.

Ms. SINGLETARY: Right. Well, you know, whenever someone is invited to a wedding, they feel like they have to get an outfit. So, you know, still a couple hundred dollars when you count in the gift. Anywhere from $50 to $100, I think is the average amount that people usually spend for a wedding gift. If you're a guest and you need to travel out of the local area to a wedding, we're talking several thousand dollars.

CHADWICK: Because people now, they're having these destination weddings, where you go to a special place and maybe it's an island or a resort somewhere. So, it's a big event that takes place there.

Ms. SINGLETARY: That's right. And particularly if it's a close family member, you want to be there. We're talking $2000, $3000, sometimes $4000 when all told to get to that wedding.

CHADWICK: If you go to a special destination wedding - this is a real cheap skate question - do you still need to buy a gift? Of course, you do, I suppose.

Ms. SINGLETARY: Well, if you're me, You know, hopefully, the couple will communicate to guests that a gift is not necessary if you're traveling and spending that kind of money.

CHADWICK: There must be people who look at their budgets and their friends wedding plans and say, 'I just can't do that. I just can't do it. I don't have the money. So what do you do in that situation?

Ms. SINGLETARY: You send your regrets. Listen, I had a relative who was having a wedding at some island or something. Says, you know, true friends would pay to go. Well, you know what, a true friend will do what they can afford, and if they don't understand that, that is, the couple, then too bad on them. Shame on them.

If you cannot afford to go, then you send a nice note saying, I would love to be at this wedding. I can't afford to go. I will send you a gift when you get back home.

Don't go broke. Don't charge it on your credit card if you don't have the cash for it. I don't care if it's your cousin Peaches. The buddy you grew up with in college.

And I think couples need to recognize this. When you're planning a wedding, think about your relatives and friends and their economic situation.

CHADWICK: And maybe what you can do as a couple to reduce the costs of the wedding in some way?

Ms. SINGLETARY: That's right. If you are intent on having your wedding in Jamaica, you know, try to negotiate with the hotel to bring down the rates for your wedding party. Limit the number of activities that your guests have to go to, to pay. You know, you go to some of these weddings, it's like a week long affair. You know, it's dinners, and you're expected to pony up for the dinner that you're having. That's how the costs start to increase.

So, if you're the couple planning it, keep that in mind. Particularly if you're in a family where you know lots of people have jobs where they can't afford it.

CHADWICK: Michelle Singletary, our regular guest for discussions of personal finance. And her latest book is, Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich and Get Married, Too. Eh, Michelle? Thank you so much.

Ms. SINGLETARY: It's like, well, you know, a marriage license is only $25.

CHADWICK: If you have personal finance questions for Michelle, we'd love to see them. Go to npr.org and click on the "contact us" button and remember to put Michelle in the subject line.

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