Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weddings: Saving money on out-of-town events..

Have you ever noticed that other people's lives tend to cost you a lot of money?  People graduate, have birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings.  You want to participate.  Some of you agree to the festivities without thinking of the cost because you can't imagine missing their event.  Others reluctantly agree to join the festivities, but secretly cringe, not knowing how you will finance your end of the obligation.

This month, I am attending an out-of-town wedding.  Out of town weddings come with a lot of expenses, some that are easy to overlook.  Planning ahead, and using these simple tips can help save you hundreds!

  1. Transportation:  Consider driving. While this won't work for events across the country, things that are in your region may be a drive-able distance.  I live in New York City.  The wedding I am attending is in Virginia.  In order to fly to this wedding, I would need to purchase two adult airfares plus rent a car at the other end (the wedding is not in a city with an airport).  Instead, I rented a car.  I got a cheaper rate by renting out of New Jersey, so I will spend the 30 minutes on public transit to get there.  I am paying $126 for the car rental for the entire weekend.  This is way cheaper than flying.  The miles are unlimited.  I will have to pay for gas.
  2. Transportation:  Consider a ride share.  Find out if there is anyone else in your area that is traveling to the wedding.  If so, they may want to consider a ride share.  I found a gal in Brooklyn that is also going.  She is going to ride with us, and contribute to the car rental and gas.
  3. Hotels:  Typically the bride and groom get a "block" reserved at a local hotel or two.  The hotel will set a price for all rooms in that block, and you have to reserve by a certain date in order to get a room at that rate.  You would think that this would be a discounted option, and it very well may be.  That being said, do some of your own hunting.  Check online well enough before that "reserve by" date.  See if you can find something near where the other hotels are, but less spendy.  The rates for the "reserved block" in this Virginia town were roughly $150 per night.  I did some searching, and found a hotel on the same street that looked nice enough for half that price.  I will be staying for two nights, and paying only about $150 for that entire time.
  4. Breakfast Counts:  When you are looking for hotels, look for one with free breakfast.  Don't pay a higher rate in order to get one, but you will likely find some choices that include breakfast.  Hotel breakfasts are typically not gourmet, but they have come a long way since the doughnut and coffee trend of the 1980's.  If you stay in the hotel two nights, and breakfast is included, you are saving the cost of two meals out.
  5. What to wear:  There is a good deal of pressure in this department.  Weddings are a time when people size you up to see if you look good, or have "let yourself go."  Don't get sucked into this madness.  Ask the bride and groom what level of formality it is, and select something from your closet accordingly.  Most likely you have something that is appropriate that you have ALREADY paid for.
  6. The Gift:  You are not to look at the registry until you set a dollar amount.  Mine is $50.  Once you have set your budget, you may look at the registry.  Personally, if I don't find something I like for my set amount, I will give them the cash.  People feel strange giving cash, thinking that it is "impersonal."  The truth is, the couple will appreciate it.  They will appreciate it for two reasons.  First, they will not get everything on their registry.  Maybe they asked for 4 bath towels, and got 2.  Things like this happen.  If a few thoughtful people have given them cash, they can use it to purchase items that were not selected by their guests.  Secondly, they might want to use the money for their honeymoon.
The above list represents what I plan to do to make it through this wedding in style, and without spending too much.  I will spend about $65 on the car rental, $150 on hotel costs, $40 for gas, $60 for food (2 lunches, 1 dinner for two of us), $50 for the wedding gift.  This brings my grand total to $365.  This is great compared to my original estimates.  When I priced this out for two people to fly, stay in the hotel that had the blocks reserved, etc. the price came out closer to $1500,  a definite budget buster!  My way creates a relaxing, stress-free, mini-vacation that I can fully afford!

Feel free to add any money saving tips of your own when it comes to out-of-town events!

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